The latest Vsauce video, a YouTube channel dedicated to explaining interesting and sometimes mind bending scientific topics, centers around the release of BBC’s Planet Earth II. In the video Michael, the host, speaks with Sir David Attenborough about humanity’s responsibility to document the world for future generations. The voice of the Planet Earth documentaries and countless other nature programs, Attenborough reinforces Michael’s assertions that it is important to study and record the world around us so we may understand our place in it. The two discuss the gravity of losing sight of how our actions impact the magnitude of creatures with whom we share this planet.
Throughout the video, clips from the upcoming Planet Earth II documentary were spliced in showing the magnificent beauty of our world and the animals throughout it. As the video came to a close I found myself reflecting on the scale of it. As I get older and interact with the world more and more, I find my perspective changing. I no longer think of the world as an insurmountable behemoth. Whether for my daily work or personal life, I communicate with individuals around the globe so casually that thinking of distance as a barrier is almost comical. Sitting in Phoenix I can send a message to Penang, Malaysia in an instance. I can view a video created by someone in London as quickly as if they were sitting next to me and playing it from their camera.
The shrinking size of the world made possible through advances in the way we communicate and share media makes for a confusing modern worldview. How is it that so many of us still cling to our nations in a desire to wall off others? We have unprecedented access to the rest of humanity and like unruly children we are bickering and running back to our rooms clutching our toys.
The days of isolated superpower governments are coming to a close. The scale of our population and our proliferation across the globe has made that a mindset of the past. We need to help each other think as a species, not as a collection of nations. There will always be the haves and have nots; it is simply a fact of nature. Suffering will come to all in one form or another, but while we can’t prevent suffering altogether we can do our best to reduce it. Why allow a beverage company to decimate a less fortunate country by depleting the water supply just so people on the other side of the world can get their carbonated sugar water?
The daily actions we take as individuals can combine to make sweeping changes and as we continue to grow more and more reliant on each other those actions become more important. Pay attention to the world around you because one day it may be you in need of goodwill.