Animals vis a vis humans in the Anthropocene

A few months back, Grist’s marvellous Justine Calma wrote a piece entitled “Humans vs. animals: Can the climate movement have both mascots?” Yesterday in Amsterdam, I took a break from the fugue of book drafting and mused about her short think piece. Essentially, she says that even though “polar bear imagery [as one type of climate change imagery]. Is pretty much tapped out,” nature documentaries, narrated under a backdrop of warming-world threatens, remain potent. Compared to even a few years ago, any narrative connections need to be more subtle and detailed – if our “furry and feathered friends” are suffering (and they are), how are they trying to adapt and what is the message for us humans?

Hmmm. I feel, at some deep level, that the fifteen species of Cranes can tell me how to live. But I know so little! I’ve no biology background that allows me easily understand the Cranes. Yes, 11 of the 15 species are “threatened,” but what does that mean in real statistical terms, let alone for majestic individual birds living their lives in 2019? Calma’s article also alerts me to a core writing issue: how do I write about Cranes in a way that intrigues and hopefully enthrals readers?

The Grist article foregrounds the new Nat Geo series Hostile Planet. I haven’t yet taken steps to access HBO series and now resolve to do so. And I resolve to complete the anxiety-inducing viewing of Attenborough’s Our Planet series.