Last night, Planet Experts held an exclusive screening of Racing Extinction, the new documentary from filmmaker Louis Psihoyos. After the screening, Planet Experts CEO David Booth Gardner hosted a Q&A session with members of Psihoyos’ crew and some of our veteran Planet Experts.
Dr. Ryan Harrigan: ‘There’s Never Been an Easier Time to Get Involved’
The panelists were all very game to discuss their thoughts on the film and how species can be preserved in the face of overwhelming destruction. Biologist Ryan Harrigan warmed up the audience with some light ribbing.
Harrigan was the most ebullient of the panelists, congratulating the theatre’s worth of people for showing up and saying the potential to do good has exponentially increased with the rise of the internet. “There’s never been an easier time to get involved,” said Harrigan.
He pointed to iPhones, High Definition mobile video and even Apple Watches as proof of this. “That’s Dick Tracy stuff in the modern world!” he said. Staying engaged, staying in the loop, that was his advice. At this point, there’s no excuse not to be.
Benjamin Kay: ‘This Could Be the New Sputnik’
Marine scientist and teacher Benjamin Kay brought the noise – literally, as a good portion of the audience was made up of his Santa Monica High School students.
“We need to push from the top down,” said Kay, addressing both his students and the need to go directly to the policymakers.
Convincing legislators that the environment is worth saving is “so, so important,” he added. The environment could – and, he argued, should – galvanize the public to demand action.
“This could be the new Sputnik,” said Kay. “The race to get a satellite to space, that was really transformative. That took science to a whole new level. People actually had meaning and a higher sense of purpose to go to school and study. Well, saving the planet, what could be more important than that. We have an opportunity right now for students to push the environmental agenda.”
Dr. Heather Rally: ‘It Never Gets Easier to See the Things That You’re Seeing’
As part of the Racing Extinction crew, Dr. Rally participated in several of their undercover operations. Gardner asked her what it was like to be part of the Hump restaurant sting, which ultimately resulted in the closure of the restaurant for illegally selling off-menu whale meat.
Dr. Rally continues to participate in undercover operations with the Oceanic Preservation Society, Psihoyos’ nonprofit organization, but as a veterinary tech, she admitted that it’s still a challenge to remain nonchalant when faced with flagrant animal abuse.
“It never gets easier to see the things that you’re seeing,” she said.