‘Breaking Boundaries’: David Attenborough & Johan Rockström Warns Of Biodiversity Collapse In New Netflix Documentary

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Just released on Netflix, the new documentary Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet shows viewers the devastating consequences of our continued destruction of nature. Led by Sir David Attenborough, the film is focused on the work of renowned Swedish climate scientist Professor Johan Rockström on “tipping points” that the world must not exceed if we are to protect humanity against disaster.

Breaking Boundaries debuted on Netflix on Friday (June 4), depicting the biodiversity collapse of our Earth and presenting a dire warning to humanity that there is no time left to tackle the climate and environmental crisis. Over the course of the 75-minute documentary, veteran broadcaster David Attenborough takes viewers on a journey with Professor Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to examine the science behind our planet’s degradation. 

Over a decade ago, Rockström and 28 other leading scientists came up with the concept of “tipping points” and identified the nine natural processes that all life on Earth depends on – and the disastrous impacts that will come from exceeding these limits. 

“Breaking Boundaries tells the story of the most important scientific discovery of our time – that humanity has pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept Earth stable for 10,000 years, since the dawn of civilisation,” states the synopsis of the film. 

Sir David Attenborough (L) and Professor Johan Rockström (R).

Humanity has pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept Earth stable for 10,000 years, since the dawn of civilisation.

Breaking Boundaries: The Science of our Planet

These planetary thresholds that Rockström researched represent the very boundaries that we must now protect, “not just for the stability of our planet, but for the future of humanity”. 

Beyond the science, the film shows viewers dramatic visuals of real-life disasters already taken place over the past few years, from the Amazon rainforest in flames to melting ice caps to the “summer from hell” that Australia experienced in 2019, when unprecedented bushfires ravaged through the country – and the hugely emotional toll it has had on environmental scientists and academics through a series of testimony dotted throughout various scenes. 

“There’s no sign of any wildlife at all,” said Dr. Daniella Teixeira, an Australian scientist featured in the film, walking through the landscape where she was studying the conservation of the endangered glossy black cockatoo. “There’s nothing left.” 

In another scene set in Australia, Breaking Boundaries documents what many have described as the underwater bushfire crisis – the most widespread coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef. 

There are three priorities: cut greenhouse gases to zero, protect the wetlands, soils, forests and oceans that absorb our impacts, and change our diets and the way we farm food. This is the mission.

Professor Johan Rockström

“We are heading for a future where the Great Barrier Reef is a coral graveyard,” said Attenborough in the documentary. 

Breaking Boundaries sets one thing clear: that nothing except drastic action will suffice. It offers up the solutions that “we can and must put in place now” if we are to stand a chance to protect the very support systems that humanity relies on. 

“The key message from the film is that we still have time,” said Rockström. “We are an endlessly innovative species. Cooperation is our superpower. And we are beginning to see signs that major change is coming.”

“The science is clear on what humanity needs to do. There are three priorities: cut greenhouse gases to zero, protect the wetlands, soils, forests and oceans that absorb our impacts, and change our diets and the way we farm food. This is the mission.”


Lead image courtesy of Netflix.


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