Six things we learned from Sir David Attenborough
The significance of Sir David Attenborough cannot be overstated. He began his natural history broadcasting career with the BBC in the 1950s and he has continued to make groundbreaking work in the field ever since. In recent years he has used his familiar voice to speak out against climate change and his latest series, Our Planet, examines its impact.
Here are some of things we discovered when Sir David spoke to Front Row:
1. He would talk to Donald Trump about climate change, if asked
The American President is a noted climate change sceptic who has cast doubt on a report by his own government warning of devastating effects from climate change. Attenborough says he would try and talk him round: “I think anybody who knows what the facts are and has the facts has the responsibility to speak about them. If I’m asked to speak about them I’ll do my best to do so. If he wanted to speak to me, of course, why would I say no?”
2. He didn't predict drones, but thinks he should have done
Every time one of Attenborough's new landmark series starts production, new technology enables new ways of telling stories. "The most recent one, of course, has been drones," he explains. "You think you've done everything, and certainly I was guilty of thinking that. It never occurred to me that there would be drones, I should have thought of it I suppose.
3. He still sees brand new things in the animal kingdom
“There's an animal in this Netflix series [Our Planet], a bird of paradise, I'd never seen before,” he says. “When it bows its head there are reflective feathers with an almost metallic sheen which are exposed, which you can only see if you are right above the bird when it's on the ground. And that is exactly where the females sit to watch this dance.”
4. He says that climate change is no longer something that is up for debate
“There is no question now that global warming is taking place,” he states. “Who do you believe: people who look at something that happened next week or last week rather, or people who spent their lives studying the scientific evidence of what is going on in the atmosphere? In my book, those experts, those scientists should be listened to.”
5. He went to Chernobyl, but signs of life there do not make him optimistic
For the new series he visited Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters of the 20th Century. “On our visit to Chernobyl there was a forest. I have to say there was not a lot of birdsong I heard – that could be seasonal – I have to say there was not a lot of insect noise – and that could be seasonal. But, you know, a small creature that reproduces itself within a few months is one thing when it comes to surviving radioactivity: it can do. If you’re living there for 50 years the affect is cumulative and much more serious.”
6. He counts himself as lucky to have seen so much of the natural world, but there is still much more to see
“One human being can’t see it all. Mind you having said that, I've had a slice of luck in being around when I am around,” he says. He is lucky to have had access to air travel and been able to get around the world “in a matter of hours” and to have “seen just marvel, after marvel, after marvel, and it's an incredible privilege.”