Conservation in pop culture: voices for nature, a binge-worthy docuseries and more

© Lucas Bustamante

After being stuck inside for months on end, connecting with nature might feel impossible right now. 

With that in mind, here are a few shows, podcasts and more that can help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

In Conservation International's new speaker series, “People Need Nature,” scientists, government officials and industry leaders virtually discuss what humanity must do to help people and nature thrive, together. 

Former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres kicks off the series by sharing insight from her new book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.” In a panel with Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan, Figueres offers concrete actions that people can take to play their own part in preventing climate catastrophe. 

According to Figueres, the first step is to approach the climate crisis with what she calls “stubborn optimism,” which “is essential for dealing with any challenge that we face, whether it is a personal challenge, institutional, national or global challenge.” 

“When we stand in front of any challenge, the one thing that we can control is what is the mindset with which we enter into that challenge. That mindset that you choose is very determinant of the feasibility of actually being able to achieve success.”

Other episodes feature conservation experts such as Conservation International’s senior wildlife scientist, Jorge Ahumada, and senior vice president of the Center for Oceans, ’Aulani Wilhelm, to dive deeper into a variety of environmental topics, including the connection between nature and pandemics and a unique partnership between surfers and conservationists working to “save the waves.”

  • For a list of the upcoming speaker series events, click here

Have you ever wondered how dust in the Sahara impacts the Amazon rainforest? Or how clouds in the sky are related to clouds on your computer? Netflix’s new show, “Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything,” answers these questions and more.

Hosted by science journalist Latif Nasser, this 6-part docuseries explores how everything on the Earth is connected — and why anything from feces to nuclear weapons can play an important role in day-to-day life. 

In the third episode of the series, Nasser explores the outsize impact of something so miniscule: dust particles. Visiting a variety of ecosystems, from the Saharan Desert in Chad to the Gulf Coast of Florida in the U.S., Nasser meets with experts to learn about what dust is made of, how it travels and why it could be the key to curbing climate change

Nasser’s mix of humor and genuine enthusiasm for discovery combined with the show’s vibrant animations transforms complex scientific topics into engaging and educational stories about the planet. In the weeks after watching, viewers will likely find themselves telling anyone who will listen about the facts they learned from the show — and even forming some connections of their own. 

Deep within the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Indigenous Waorani people are fighting to protect the nature they depend on from unsustainable oil extraction. 

Filmmaker and scientist Ryan Killackey has been documenting this battle over the past seven years, culminating in a 90-minute film called “Yasuní Man.”

The film takes viewers to one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, the Yasuní region of eastern Ecuador, where white-lipped peccaries roam alongside fluorescent green leaf frogs. Following the discovery of oil reserves in the Yasuní in 2007, however, oil companies began to make inroads into the remote forest. 

Tying centuries of history of the Waorani peoples to their modern experiences, “Yasuní Man” highlights the community’s struggles and their enduring resilience to protect their home from exploitation. Over the course of filming, Killackey also helped organize several scientific expeditions to research the migratory patterns of birds and species richness of the Yasuní region, co-authoring two papers on the subject. 

“I want this film to be a catalyst to help save the Yasuní Biosphere,” Killackey told Conservation News. 

“The power of film and imagery is substantial and combining film with hard scientific evidence can bolster the protection of the region as well as the people who live there.” 

  • Witness more of the natural wonders that Yasuní has to offer? Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan joined Killackey for part of his expedition — watch here.  

 

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: A three-toed sloth in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador (© Lucas Bustamante)


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