Why our planet now needs a "revolution of solutions"

Award-winning natural history photographer, documentary film-maker, author and public speaker Doug Allan looks back over a busy career in a theatre tour which brings him to Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on October 5.
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He will also look to the future with sobering thoughts about the state we have brought the world to.

“I’ve always balanced optimism with reality but the latest world climate report lays bare the need for radical, urgent action. There are solutions, and I want to talk about them. They’re all challenging, some are scary and depend on us making deep changes to how we live. The planet’s at a crossroads and we’re at the wheel.

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“It's a grim story,” he says. “A very, very grim story. I tried to encapsulate what if we had paid attention to the science and the scientists when the red flags first got raised 40 years ago” – when James Hansen testified to Congress in 1988 that the planet was warming up.

Doug Allan (credit Doug Allan)Doug Allan (credit Doug Allan)
Doug Allan (credit Doug Allan)

“If we had listened to those warnings then we would have had an evolution of solutions. It would have been gradual and we could have tried several options but it could have happened slowly but now because we didn't pay attention to those red flags we're looking at not an evolution of solutions but a revolution of solutions which is going to be very expensive and very messy. The challenge that this country and other countries have is that it is not ready to make the changes which are needed because they're expensive and because they change too much of our social cultures. What we need to be doing is to be prepared for a lot of disruption as we roll out renewables at a rate that has not been seen before. We need to introduce wind farms onshore and offshore but that is not going to happen. And it would be great if we get get this power supply from the wind farms underground but that's not going to happen. There is not time.”

The tragedy, Doug says, is that governments ignored the evidence of what was happening because of very powerful fossil fuel lobbies that managed to convince that the science was not there: “The fact is if you carry on channelling CO2 into the atmosphere it will carry on getting warmer and we know that because that has already happened.” Doug cites a report last year by ice scientists around the world. On the front of the report it said simply: “You can't negotiate with the melting point of ice.” That's why Doug will be hoping that his audiences on tour will go home seriously contemplating renewable energy though he stresses that his theatre tour absolutely isn't all about climate change. It’s A Wrap is also a chance to share his extraordinary filming challenges and successes.

“There are big days when animals behave spectacularly right in front of your lens. And other quieter times when a deeper understanding reveals itself, a new insight into the environment and what’s alive there. I’ll be talking about these moments of truth and how they’re the biggest privilege of a wildlife cameraperson.”