There have been 5 major extinctions on planet earth. Scientists now believe we have entered the sixth major extinction, the Anthropocene era (Age of Man), with the loss of half of the species on the planet by the end of the century.
This scary and powerful idea is captured and presented in the new documentary, “Racing Extinction,”, by Louie Psihoyos, which premiered this past Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. Psihoyos is famous for his Oscar winning documentary, “The Cove,” which focuses on the mass slaughter of dolphins. Now, “Racing Extinction” widens the scope to the entire planet.
The title, and expectedly the movie, plays two parts: it is both ominous yet hopeful. Though we are on the verge of worldwide catastrophic events, we still have the power to change our habits and prevent complete disaster. The film is meant to startle us of our dire and urgent reality, and also remind us of our ability to still turn things around. The trailer here shows how a large focus of the film is on the illegal hunting and selling of endangered species. Many times the team went undercover to get face-to-face with the offenders and catch everything on camera.
The film also focuses on our everyday habits that contribute to pollution and large carbon emissions. At one point in the film, the team uses special cameras to capture the amount of methane released by humans, and the results are astonishing. In an interview with NBC, Psihoyos said that one way people can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint is by eating more vegetarian and vegan diets. “More greenhouse gases are produced by raising animals for consumption than from all the emissions from the transportation sector. You can get all the protein you need from plants and it makes total sense to cut out the middle man. It’s not just a win for the environment, it’s a win for health, too.”
The title speaks for itself. We as humans are contributing unprecedented destruction to the world, so much so that we are heading towards mass extinctions and worldwide degradation. Though this idea is frightening, the main point of the film is to startle us, to awaken us, and for us to realize that the time to act is now.
“What will populate the planet in 100 million years from now will be determined by what happens in the next few centuries”
— Elizabeth Kolbert