Breaking Bad Habits
Planet Earth is reaching a point of no return. Climate change has been a constant hot topic (no pun intended) for decades and the overwhelming evidence is now too great to ignore.
Hot off the heels of shocking documentary Seaspiracy, Breaking Boundaries is a scientifically sound, shocking and harrowing examination of just how close we are to the tipping point for sustainable life on this planet.
Specifically, the boundaries in question are rounded out to 9 key segments. These include biodiversity, aerosols and, of course, climate change itself. Together they make up a shield of sorts, stopping humanity from staring extinction in the face. Right now though, that shield is starting to wane.
Narrated by David Attenborough and utilizing the science of Johan Rockström, Breaking Boundaries is a comprehensive breakdown of what problems Planet Earth faces, what risk they have to our everyday life and what we as a species can do to stop a possible mass extinction from coming to fruition.
Visually, the documentary combines different splash screens, interviews and archival footage with a few recurring CGI screens that do become a bit tedious after a while.
One in particular shows numerous people walking through different coloured zones. While this works to begin with, it’s repeated for each of the nine segments and – as you can imagine – it does become a bit visually stale after a while. Thankfully the material itself is hard-hitting enough to look past that but one can’t help but feel a more simplistic graphic would have sufficed.
In a way, it feels like the TV equivalent of that one kid during a school presentation using the fanciest Wordart title possible. Sure it looks nice but the real crux of the issue here is the data – and thankfully Breaking Boundaries delivers. At least for the most part.
Where it’s less successful however, is the stretch this documentary makes to correlate our changing climate to COVID-19. There’s no evidence to suggest this is the case, beyond the obvious juxtaposition about being ill-prepared for a globally crippling incident.
The other problem here is one that’s never, ever addressed in these documentary films and really ought to be. “Just eat healthy food!” Johan tells us, and yes it is that simple. Eating healthy food should be a given for everyone. The trouble is, it’s not. In this capitalistic world we live in, that’s made unnecessarily challenging for those on the poverty line. And I’ve been there myself.
That horrible, dread-inducing existence where every day is a new wave of stress and anxiety as you’re forced to spend every penny wisely. The meticulous shopping list cannot be deviated from and every penny is crucial to make sure you have enough for seven meals.
When 12 doughnuts are cheaper than 4 apples, processed chicken nuggets cost a fraction of fresh garlic marinated chicken breasts and salads are more expensive than processed sandwiches, then it’s unsurprising that so many people adopt the food habits they do.
The other annoying omission comes from a distinct lack of finger-pointing at the companies responsible for the largest carbon footprints on the planet. This is probably a big point of contention, given consumer trends drive the market. (Ie. If less people ate chicken then less chickens would need to be killed and sold, ergo production slows) but again it comes down to money.
While you can poke holes in the claim that “100 companies are responsible for 70% of all greenhouse gases”, its far harder to argue against the influence money has on said consumer trends.
At the end of the day, Governments hold the key to putting plans in place that will push consumers to make the right choices. And these must be fair and impartial for everyone – regardless of income level.
Despite those gripes, Breaking Boundaries is another scientifically sound and hard-hitting Attenborough documentary, reminding us that this planet is at breaking point. While it would have been nice to see more discourse leveled at those at the top, there’s enough here to make this essential viewing nonetheless. In the end, as the final credits roll, we’re left with one damning question – will we be able to reverse the damage done before it’s too late?