There are things we need to hear again and again and again and again.

We start as children, hearing to follow the golden rule, to clean our plate, to not hit your sister. We continue to hear them (usually in our parents’ voices) later. When we grow up there are other important things we need to hear repeatedly too – and unfortunately, they rarely come with a comforting voice.  Taking care of our planet is one of those ideas.  There can be no honest debate that we must do this – the only remaining debate is how to convince each and every individual to do their part.

PLANETARY harnesses the knowledge of experts of every stripe – ecologists, astronauts, philosophers, environmentalists, writers, teachers, and repeats some of the most important words our world can hear at this time.

Full disclosure – I say repeats these things, because this is my profession as well.  I teach these ideas: how to care for the earth, how to value nature, how to combat climate change, every day.  The experts from PLANETARY, including Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black female astronaut, express why they think we’re at a crossroads in how we view the earth.  Dr. Jemison said we’ve been looking to technology, and other people, and laws to save us.  She says we need to “look inside ourselves to figure [this] out”.  She, and the others, are saying that we need to rethink how we connect to nature, how we see ourselves as part of nature, or there might not be anything worth saving.  They point out that finally seeing a picture of the earth from space fundamentally changed how we need to think about the planet.

Bill McKibben takes it a step further.  A fervent climate change fighter, and co-founder of, McKibben points out that the first photo taken in 1969 (and plastered all over dorm rooms ever since) resembles our world today as much as your high school yearbook photo does you.  We’ve started pushing ourselves towards a only the 6th mass extinction event in evolutionary history that many, if not most, people are barely aware of.  Several people who are experts on meditation and the philosophy of nature describe needing to go into nature and actually experience it to begin to fully understand what’s at stake.

This is a sentiment that has been echoed for more than a century by writers and scientists alike.  Thoreau “went to the woods because [he] wished to live deliberately” and Muir told us “to do something for wildness and make the mountains glad”.

I often get accused of teaching a downer subject, that lectures often end without hope .  Thankfully, this movie is filled with some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen.  Pictures that show what’s worth saving are hopefully worth more than the words that accompany them.  But sometimes seeing is believing and on the right day, the right words can change the world.

PLANETARY plays at Hot Docs 2015 tomorrow, Thursday April 30th – 6:30pm at The Kingsway Theatre, and again at The Bloor on Sunday May 3rd – 1:15pm (official website)