Sir David Attenborough, the legendary English broadcaster and naturalist, is more popular than ever at age 94. Listening to his narration of nature documentaries, you can’t help but have a reverence and sense of wonder for the natural world. Since 1979, and over almost seven decades, he’s been a constant presence in our lives.
Today, the nonagenarian has broken the world record on Instagram, reaching one million followers in the fastest time ever, four hours and 44 minutes. Today, he’s reaching over 4.6 million followers just days after his debut on the social media platform.
With over 60 years of radio and television appearances, Attenborough’s voice as a steward of the natural world is more relevant than ever. Over his lifetime, he’s witnessed firsthand the impact people have had on nature.
Maybe only Dame Jane Goodall compares to this kind of longevity and influence as a voice for respecting and preserving the natural world. Their voices are critical right now, and people are responding to hearing them.
Appearing in his first Instagram video, Attenborough had an alarming message:
“As we all know, the world is in trouble.”
“Continents are on fire; glaciers are melting, coral reefs are dying, fish are disappearing from our oceans. The list goes on and on,” he said. “But we know what to do about it, and that’s why I’m tackling this new way of communication.”
On the Essential Need to Save Biodiversity
In a more recent post, Attenborough, with his classic voice, reminds us of what we as a species have forgotten. Discussing his new film, A Life On Our Planet, he talks about remembering our place in it all. The new film appears on Netflix in October.
“Nature, the living world around us. From the tree roots and fungi to the songbirds and great whales. It’s easy to forget that we are also a part of nature,” he said. “Our natural world is much more than just nice to have; it’s fundamental to our survival.”
Attenborough points out that the loss of biodiversity on Earth “is as grave an issue as climate change.” Recent reports state that 2/3rds of all wildlife has disappeared within the last 50 years.
“The natural world is fading. The evidence is all around. It’s happened in my lifetime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he says. “This film is my witness statement and my vision for the future. The story of how we came to make this our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.”
On What Can Save the Natural World
Until his most recent film, Sir David Attenborough avoided talking directly about how people are putting the world’s ecological in peril. He was skeptical of climate change.
Now, he says the evidence is clear and is sounding the alarm. On his recent 60 Minutes appearance, he says, “a crime has been committed” against the planet. As an elder statesman of the planet, nobody has more authority on the subject.
“The way we humans live on Earth is sending into decline. Human beings are overrunning the world. We’re replacing the wild with the tame. Our planet is headed for disaster,” Attenborough says in a preview.
However, Attenborough remains hopeful for the future.
“There’s a huge movement around the world of people from all nations, young people who can see what is happening to the world, and demanding that their government should take action,” Attenborough said. “And that’s the best hope that I have. Obviously, my generation failed. We’ve allowed it to happen.”
See him on 60 Minutes below:
On the Importance of the Natural World During Covid-19
Attenborough, who is on quarantine in London during the Covid-19 pandemic, reflected on why nature is particularly vital right now. Millions of people are socially distancing and taking to nature to find relief.
“In the course of this particular pandemic, I think people are discovering that they need the natural world for their very sanity. People who have never listened to a bird song are suddenly thrilled, excited, supported, inspired by the natural world. And they realize that they are not apart from it. They are part of it.”
By saving nature, we are saving ourselves.
On Moving to Renewable Energy
Unfortunately, man’s reliance on fossil fuels has led to rapid climate change. But Sir David Attenborough says redemption is entirely possible with a shift to renewable energy.
“We know ways in which we can get, from the Sun up there just a tiny fraction of the amount of energy that sprays on this Earth 24 hours a day, one way or another, for nothing. If we can solve the problems of storage and transmission, the world is ours. We have all the power we need. Why should we go on poisoning life on Earth?” he asks.
If the world’s leaders would begin acting together, the problems could be solved and solved fast.
“The repopulations of the oceans can happen like that in a decade,” Attenborough says with a snap. “If we have the will to do it. But we require everybody to agree that.”
On His Goals for the Future
Today, Attenborough is using his voice to call on the need for change. For him, there is no alternative and he plans to go on speaking out.
“I have been unbelievably privileged in my life to go around seeing all these miraculous, heart-warming things around the world. I have no alternative but to speak about it,” he says.
Although the world’s problems seem dire, he believes young people and voters can turn everything around. Will they vote in overwhelming numbers and turn the tide?
“It’s up to the voters, assuming we’re talking about democratic societies where voters can have a say. Voters can determine that now, and that’s one of the reasons why I think we have some hopes, some fragments, some threads of optimism.”
Sir David Attenborough, like Dame Jane Goodall, are the voices we need right now. Let’s listen and take action for a better future.
More from Sir David Attenborough’s September 2020 appearance on 60 Minutes below: