Climate Conscious
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Climate Conscious

David Attenborough — Loved, Adored, Ultimately Ignored

David Attenborough is an undisputed national treasure, loved by millions for both his conservation work and contribution to TV with his nature documentaries (and, of course, that famous silky smooth narration). Planet Earth II was the most watched natural history programme for over fifteen years when it released in 2016, showing just how much people adore him and his work.

Sir David. Source: BBC.

Why then, do his messages, pleas, and begs fall on deaf ears?

From “Planet Earth”, and “Blue Planet, to his latest BBC series “The Green Planet”, David Attenborough has been spreading the same message for decades — that earth is precious, finite, and that climate change is mankind’s greatest ever threat.

His Netflix special “A Life On Our Planet” was met with absolute praise. It was showered with commendations and applause and became an instant success. However, it didn’t follow his traditional successful formula for a nature documentary. Awe and spectacle were replaced with grief and loss, as we watched the results of a century of our mistakes through the eyes of the world’s longest-serving television naturalist.

I was heartbroken, knowing the part that I have played (or rather not played), in the extinction of our planet, as I make little to no efforts to change my ways. Billions of others are no different. It’s not our problem. It’s years away. It’s not even real. The film shows us the ugly truth — we can no longer ignore climate change. If we continue on our current path, we will destroy our planet — our home — and die.

Polar Bears Fight For Survival. Source: EDF.

There’s no doubt in my mind that “A Life On Our Planet” was Sir David Attenborough’s last card to play. He’s sounded the trumpet before, countless times. People see it, hear it, even talk about it, but never take action. I fear the same mistake will be made again.

His enemy? Convenience. He smashed the record for the fastest Instagram account to reach one million followers when he joined the platform in 2020, displaying how people show support as long as it’s easy. You like or share a post and that’s you doing your bit. How many people watched “A Life On Our Planet” and were moved by it? Likely everybody. It brought people to tears, got them talking, got them thinking. That’s a feat in itself — one that Attenborough has perfected over the years. But how many took action? How many people got up, made a change, and took responsibility, instead of just moving on?

Yes, the general stance on climate change is changing, as people protest, and governments start to take action. Costa Rica, for example, generates 99% of its energy from renewable sources, and we all know about Greta Thunberg, the now 19-year-old activist speaking and leading marches around the globe. But it’s still not enough. Not enough people make the effort to change. We have to forget convenience. Re-use plastic bags. Recycle. Walk instead of drive. This is our future, that because of us, we have no choice but to embrace — yet people won’t. It’s too much work.

The Green Planet. Source: Financial Times.

I fear Sir David’s new series “The Green Planet” will suffer the same fate as its numerous predecessors. It’ll no doubt be considered a success, but only with ratings and viewership. His message, his plea, will once again be lost. If we still refuse to act against climate change, even with it unfolding in front of our eyes (in 2020, Arctic sea ice melted to its second-lowest extent on record, beaten only by 2012), then what chance does he have? He’s now 95, and after devoting his entire life to wildlife preservation, he will end it, sat in his armchair, resigned to the fact that it’s all going to end.

David Attenborough has watched our planet slowly die over his lifetime. He’s been screaming at the top of his lungs for us to change, to improve, and to support animals and wildlife. Yet we haven’t. Instead we’ve patronised him. We give him awards, commendations — even a knighthood. Yet we don’t listen. We ignore him.

That’s no way to treat a national treasure.

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