A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future Hardcover – 1 October 2020
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About the Author
Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly seven decades.
His first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at a London publishing house. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe, to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.
He was Controller of BBC 2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for BBC Television (1969-1972). In 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing, and has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several
landmark BBC series, includingLife on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials
of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998),The Blue Planet (2001),Life of Mammals (2002),Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008).
Sir David was knighted in 1985 and received the Order of Merit in 2005. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, and stands at the forefront of issues concerning the planet's declining species and conservation.
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While there are those who say that he is an alarmist, no serious scientist contests that this description of natural history is largely correct. And so, the controversy comes down to what measures must be taken to halt this more and more pressing situation.
Attenborough’s solution is for a sea change in public attitudes. Such an approach shouldn’t be mocked: witness the change in attitudes to human slavery in the nineteenth century. But it would take a sea change to accept, for example, his proposal for zero economic growth as the new normal.
Otherwise, the suggestions are mostly the large scale implementation of successful scientific experiments already in place. He tends to sugarcoat these by saying that they will benefit both humankind and the rest of nature. But the book is more intended to change attitudes and bring about awareness than set forth a blueprint for action.
As a fan of the documentaries I was predisposed to like this work. Everyone, however, will acknowledge that Attenborough, by working on BBC nature shows since the 1950s, has a privileged position with which to view the dewilding and subsequent loss of biodiversity on Earth. Thus, while it is certainly recommended to fans, newcomers who want to go beyond the trivial and tired question of “What to do about the environment” will also find that it opens a prescient perspective on the panoply of life that share the planet Earth.