He is, undoubtedly, unquestionably, undeniably one of the most amazing, inspiring and influential naturalist ever.
He first started out on BBC 60 years ago, as a junior producer filming animals from zoos, but is now most known as The presenter for natural history documentaries. He revolutionised natural history broadcasting, filming animals in the wild for the first time, introducing colour, amazing photography and rare animals to television. The way nature documentaries are now must largely be due to his influence.
“When we first went there, their nature programmes were all whiz-bang stuff such as catching elephants or lassoing rhinoceroses. They thought the idea that you could do a programme on plants or caterpillars was absurd. But people seemed to like it.”
And yes, I do agree: BBC’s documentaries (e.g. Planet Earth, South Pacific etc.) >>>>>>>> Discovery Channel/National Geographic’s (e.g. Deadliest Catch, Man v. Monster etc.) Maybe I can’t compare them like that, cos their target audience is presumably different. But I just find the latter ones more anthropocentric and tending to give the impression that Nature is there to be conquered and lorded over by Man.
But anyway, the thing about David Attenborough is that he’s managed to impact a huge audience through his nature documentaries, not just biologists or zoologists. Even people who may/may not be concerned about environmental issues have heard of, and are surely awed, by him, his knowledge and simply the way he presents the natural world.
It’s also awesome that he has, in recent years, actively voiced out conservation issues and concerns.
“The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”
Primarily though, I think he’s awesome cos of the way he has broadcasted the beauty of the natural world to the world. He has, I’m pretty sure, inspired and spawned generations of zoologists and naturalists.
Of course, I’m sure credit has to go to the tech team who come up with the amazing graphics and videography as well. But really, Sir David Attenborough is a really amazingly awesome guy!
“And while people say, with good cause, that it’s all doom and gloom, I also think we’ve come a long way. It’s not so long ago that the idea of having a minister for the environment would have been absurd. Now no party could possibly be elected without a policy on the environment. I think people are increasingly realising that if we get out of kilter with the natural world, we are heading for catastrophe. And the associated emotional, spiritual and physical loss is the road to madness. The natural world is still a source of solace and pleasure and delight and beauty and reassurance.”
Read more about his thoughts and him:
A life in television
David Attenborough: US politicians duck climate change because of cost
David Attenborough: force of nature
Side note: it’s really fascinating how the perceptions of natural history and the Earth and how humans impact this planet we live on have changed so dramatically in the past 50 years or so.
“I was interested in the natural world, but it was nothing to do with saving the planet. There were people who thought the country had been desecrated in terms of putting up pylons and things like that. But the idea that you could actually destroy the Earth didn’t really occur. So we poured raw sewage into the sea because the seas were infinite. If there were unpleasant smells from a factory then you would build a higher chimney. The atmosphere was so big it could just absorb it all. If you wanted to dig up a bit of forest, no one was going to stop you. It was assumed the world was big enough. Maybe it was. But when I was a kid there were only a third of the people on the planet that there are today. It doesn’t seem big enough any more.”
Side note 2: I can’t quite decide who’s more awesome, Sir David Attenborough or Dr Jane Goodall, having read their books (or watched documentaries, for the former), and been fortunate enough to meet them (in 2009 and 2011, for Dr Goodall’s case). But I guess they’re both awesome in their own rights (: Feel super blessed to be in a generation when they’re still around, and to be able to meet them and be inspired by them!