Environmentalist, journalist, television presenter and producer Sir David Attenborough has been changing people’s views on the world for decades. Attenborough became famous through his TV series, documentaries, books, and interviews about environmental issues, plants, and other living organisms.
One of his most famous series is Blue Planet where he highlights the fantastic worlds that exist under the sea. His work is not only informative but entertaining too, this helped him to become one of the most listened to environmentalists; using his fame to inform people about animals and habitats that are under threat globally due to climate change and deforestation.
Forging a Career
As an environmentalist David studied zoology and geology at Clare College, Cambridge. He then proceeded to serve in the navy for two years and briefly worked in publishing; this would eventually lead to his career in television. Attenborough has visited every continent in the world and has explored wild areas and documented the wide range of flora and fauna he has discovered. In the 1950’s Attenborough joined the BBC, becoming a producer for shows such as The Pattern of Animals and Zoo Quest.
He became most well-known for writing and presenting shows that have changed the way modern nature documentaries are made and produced. He has written, produced, presented, and narrated over one hundred documentaries over the span of 60 years in the industry. Some of his most famous documentaries are Life on Earth, The Private Life of Plants and Planet Earth. Planet Earth is the BBC’s most expensive nature documentary to date. He is most famous for his Life series, which has been going on for 30 years.
Attenborough has been in the environmental field for many years, sharing his love of nature with the world. Over time his voice and face have become well associated with environmentalism, making him a national treasure as he continually challenges us to do better. In 1985 he accepted a knighthood for all of his work over the years and was knighted again in 2020 for his work in television and conservation.
He has gained 32 honorary degrees from universities all over Britain, such as his Doctor of Science degree from The University of the West of England. David has the most honorary degrees from universities in the UK. David has also had multiple species named after him, such as the Pristimantis attenboroughi, which is a Peruvian rubber frog that is just over two centimetres in length.
“Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.”
Sir David Attenborough made the decision to join Instagram in September 2020. He broke the record for the fastest time to reach one million followers, becoming a positive and environmentally inclusive influence immediately. His first post was a video of him explaining why he joined Instagram. David felt that the social media platform was a good way to inform millions about how much trouble the world is in; hopefully to inspire positive environmental change.
He left Instagram two months after he joined, and the account is no longer active as it was reportedly only ever supposed to be a temporary way to spread a series of special messages. The main project he spoke about during this Instagram campaign was his film A Life on Our Planet, which was produced by him, and was in collaboration with WWF. He has been strongly connected with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (previously the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)) for a long time and is proudly a WWF-UK Ambassador.
“Many individuals are doing what they can. But real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics.”
He was also revealed as People’s Advocate for the COP26 climate change summit. He vowed to “put forward the compelling case to global leaders, key decision makers and the public for why climate action matters”. He described the COP26 climate change summit as potentially “our last opportunity to make the necessary step” towards protecting our world. He was honoured to be given the role of People’s Advocate and has previously emphasised the importance of the climate change summit. The COP26 will take place in November 2021, the aim of the event is to help countries to join forces in order to get climate change under control.
More than 190 world leaders are expected at the summit. A couple of the goals that they are trying to achieve at COP26 are, adapting to protect communities and natural habitats and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach. 1.5 degrees was a rule set at COP21 in Paris in 2015, every country in attendance agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees. This was put in place because every small percentage of a degree of warming results in the tragic loss of money, lives, and livelihoods.
“’Oh, to hell with it, I don’t care’ You can’t say that. Not if… you love your children. Not if you love the rest of human – how can you say that?”
Attenborough believes that climate change is a crime that humanity has inflicted onto the world. He asked why society continues to poison the earth when there is still time for us to turn things around and make a positive change.
A model has been produced based on historical climate data which predicts the Earth’s temperature until the year 2100. This model found that it is likely we could be in dangerous warming temperatures as early as 2027.
“A crime has been committed […] and it so happens that, I’m of such an age, that I was able to see it beginning.”
David has previously pointed out existing technology that could significantly lessen the threat of climate change. This could be done with initially shifting away from using fossil fuels as a main energy source. This will in turn give the world time to recover from the high carbon emissions.
He believes that now is the time to put national ambitions to one side and focus on the international goal for survival. Attenborough thinks that the world belongs to young people. One young person that he believes has made a real difference is Greta Thunberg. In an interview with the two environmental icons David said that “the impact of what Greta’s been saying is so powerful.” The younger generation will have to live through the mess that is currently being created when great individuals like Sir Attenborough are gone, it is important to have people like Greta to carry these important messages into future generations.
For More Information on the COP26 Summit and other Sustainbility Missions Head to:
UN 17 Sustainability Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals