By Steve Backshall
I started my first conservation TV series with National Geographic back in 1999, when mobile phones were the size of bricks and some TV’s were still black and white! Back then,
environmental themes felt new. Many of our shows uncovered completely new science about the effect of humans on climate change, habitat loss, wildlife extermination,
and the looming threat of plastic pollution. Even for a naturalist like me, the revelations were new and shocking. The world expert scientists we filmed with always concluded by saying things like:
以及迫在眉睫的塑料污染威胁。即使对我这样的博物学家来说，这些发现也是新的、令人震惊的。我们拍摄的世界专家科学家总是这样总结： Sound familiar? In the following decades, those words have become like a mantra to the conservation community and now finally the sixth extinction has entered the common lexicon. And not a moment too soon.
There has been a noticeable rapid decline in the state of our diverse environments in just the last three or four years. Inevitably if I find a deserted tropical beach hundreds of miles from civilisation, the strand line will look like a rubbish dump, with bottles, diapers, straws, current-borne flotsam, and discarded jetsam.
On a beach in Gabon, West Africa, we found bottles from China, bags from Brazil, aerosol cans from Indonesia, and a baby potty from the UK! Once discarded, our plastic garbage becomes a global problem.
在西非加蓬的海滩上，我们发现了来自中国的瓶子、来自巴西的袋子、来自印度尼西亚的喷雾罐和来自英国的婴儿便盆！一旦被丢弃，我们的塑料垃圾就成了一个全球性问题。 On every SCUBA dive I do nowadays I need to carry twine cutters – I’ve had to use them to cut loose seals, sharks, fish, coral heads, and turtles from nets and indestructible plastic trash.
As I write this, my beloved Australia is on fire, with a loss to wildlife and nature that cannot be quantified. Amy and Ella’s generation have grown up with these looming concerns as an omnipresent spectre over their futures.
The sixth extinction is to them, what Chernobyl and the Cold War were to me as a kid; just as scary, every bit as insidious, with the potential outcome every bit as cataclysmic.
第六次灭绝对他们来说，就像切尔诺贝利和冷战对我小时候一样；同样可怕，每一点都是阴险的，潜在的结果都是灾难性的。 I first met the (far from) Meek Sisters when they spoke before a lecture I was giving at the Royal Geographical Society. They were no more than 14 and 12, and the audience was blown away by their poise and eloquence,
outperforming their adult counterparts (very much including me). While there were already many young conservationists making a name for themselves by speaking from the heart with passion and emotion, what impressed me about this pair was that they fact-checked everything they said with peer-reviewed science.
These weren’t just feisty firebrands that might burn bright then fade away. They were in it for the long haul. And all of a sudden, I find that I’m following in THEIR FOOTSTEPS, speaking alongside them in Parliament, appearing on their TV show,
pinching their experiments and results for my own lectures – watching their inevitable, inexorable maturation into world-class conservationists.
为我自己的讲座捏紧他们的实验和结果——看着他们不可避免地、无情地成熟为世界级的自然资源保护主义者。 Amy and Ella give me HOPE. They have drive, awareness, and purpose, in a way I never had. They and their contemporaries believe they can change the world.
We have to believe they are right. This time in history, for all its madness, will be looked back on and equated to the great civil rights movements of the past.
As a time when young people stood up and shouted about what they believe in – the future of our planet and all life upon it. Ella and Amy will be leaders in that movement, and I am proud to know them.