Everyone’s favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, returns to our screens tonight with a brand-new one-off documentary. Called Extinction: The Facts (a follow-up to last year’s Climate Change: The Facts), it will look at how human overpopulation, rampant over-consumption, the illegal wildlife trade, climate change, overfishing, pollution and land-use change are all driving the loss of biodiversity across the world.
Back before COVID-19 dominated the headlines, before even the massive fires in Australia destroyed thousands of homes and killed billions of animals, another part of the world was burning. I can still remember seeing, on an online news article almost exactly a year ago, in August 2019, the almost apocalyptic images of huge fires devastating the Amazon rainforest. Smoke from the blaze, the article stated,
Coronavirus disease 19 (or COVID-19) is suspected to have originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, in December 2019. Wet markets such as this – ‘wet’ because of the melting ice used to preserve goods – are where traders sell fresh meat, fish and produce. Some, however, also sell live animals, which can be slaughtered and skinned for the customer upon purchase, to demonstrate their freshness. The Huanan Seaford Wholesale Market, for example, was selling a lot more than just fish – snakes, raccoon dogs, deer, porcupines and pangolins are just a few of the wild species that were also for sale there, both dead and alive.
If, like us, you found yourself during lockdown being overwhelmed by day after day of increasingly grim news, you may have found solace in the Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Madness is certainly apt. Every few minutes of this messy, captivating, and at times surreal, series yields some new surprise or jaw-dropping twist, to the extent that if I tried to explain the seven episodes in detail to someone who had never seen the show, I might be accused of making it all up.