"Better to Light One Candle Than to Curse the Darkness"

A Film Review on Racing Extinction

What do you think our world will look like with 50% of all species wiped off the face of our planet? What might be worse is facing the fact that our human actions are what contributed to their disappearance and knowingly not taking action. 

Using state-of-the-art equipment, Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyus from Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) brings together a team of different artists and activists to createan exhilarating and eye-opening film, Racing Extinction. This film exposes the issue of our sixth mass extinction focusing on various issues such as overpopulation, globalization, and livestock production.

We are currently living in the Anthropocene era, an epoch that begins when our human activities have a significant global impact on our natural ecosystems. There have been five major extinctions in the history of our planet, we are now experiencing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. This can be considered the worst species die-offs since the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, a natural rate of species loss is about one to five species per year. We are currently losing species 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the natural rate with dozens of species going extinct every year. It would be a very scary world to live in with as many as 50% of all species possibly gone by mid-century. 

The wildlife trade is  an enormous industry and it’s second only to the drug market. As our human population grows so will the demand in wildlife trade. In many villages people depend directly on wildlife consumption as a way of making a living. OPS uses covert operations to expose threatened and endangered species being illegally killed, processed, and sold. Massive endangered marine species markets, millions up on millions of shark fins drying out on industrial roofs, and thousands of manta ray gills sold to China for medicinal uses. These are all of the brutal realities occurring everyday all over the world. Throughout the making of the film, undercover investigators visited many cities around the world exposing their illegal wildlife trade practices. Shark fin and manta ray gill trade markets in Hong Kong and mainland China were exposed. The film also covers the successful effort of including manta rays on the CITES Appendix II list of protected species, which ultimately stopped the village from killing the manta rays for Chinese markets. 

These people don’t realize that their traditional practices are driving their own resources towards extinction and their future generations will have nothing left to work with. These towns need to work towards creating marine sanctuaries in order to attract tourism as an alternative source of income. Manta rays, sharks, and all other top predators are worth far more money alive than dead. 

The film also focuses on methane produced by livestock and methane bubbles trapped in frozen reservoirs in the Arctic rapidly escaping into our oceans and atmosphere significantly contributing to global warming. OPS creates a high definition FLIR (forward looking infra red) camera, with a specific color filter to make CO2 and methane emissions from transportation, animals, and industries visible to the human eye. 

Throughout the making of this film OPS did an incredible job of raising awareness by projecting images and clips of the film all over the world along various important buildings such as the Empire State Building, Wall Street, United Nations Headquarters, and the Vatican. Tesla Motors designed a custom Tesla Model car created with electro-luminescent paint, inspired by bioluminescent organisms. The car also projects endangered animal sounds from Chris Clark’s Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The aim of the campaign, partnered with the #StartWithOneThing Campaign , is to raise awareness on a mass level and to inspire people to change habits for the survival of these endangered species. When the majority of nature is at risk, we all have the obligation to act, educate, and inspire others to act. As Jane Goodall says, we must have hope because there is far too much left for us to give up now. 

Related Posts