A Life on Our Planet is not an autobiography. Instead, Attenborough intends to refer to witnessing the dewilding of Earth over the past century. Dewilding, a neologism, denotes the growing extinction rate, loss of wilderness, over harvesting of the oceans and all the myriad ways we humans have pushed nature to the outskirts of the planet. None of this will be new to viewers of his documentaries. But the medium of print allows him to develop these themes in more depth.
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.
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A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future Paperback – 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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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Amazon.com: 34 reviews
Aran Joseph Canes
A Witness to the History of Planet Earth7 October 2020 - Published on Amazon.com
40 people found this helpful
A good read, not great, but not a fault of Mr. Attenborough25 November 2020 - Published on Amazon.com
I am extremely happy that I bought this book. David Attenborough has spent a lifetime admiring and studying nature, and his pure love for wild places shines through in this book. The first half or so of the book is his testimony as to what he has witnessed firsthand, hence the title of the book stating it is his witness statement. I was wholly fascinated with this part of the book. His firsthand accounts leave no doubt that there are essentially atrocities being committed against the Earth by humans and something does need to be done. The later half of the book is devoted to ways to mitigate and erase the problems created by humans. This is where the book fell apart for me. I am a realist and I do not see how these proposals could ever become reality. Getting all of the many factions of humans (nations, religions, race, tribe, whatever) across the world to agree on these just seems like fantasy to me. Not that I don't think that some of these proposals could do some good, just that there is only one way I see them coming to fruition. That would be after the future catastrophic event, and not before. You need a 9/11 type of event first, before people will come together. Sorry, my pessimism is now showing. I still easily recommend this book. To me, it is a must read.
16 people found this helpful
A Source for Hope6 November 2020 - Published on Amazon.com
The world is in trouble. We know that and this book affirms it. But that is not ultimately what this book is about. There is a roadmap here to a future that is not only sustainable but more satisfying. Lift your spirits. Read this book.
7 people found this helpful
Very clear and profound explanation of the climate crisis and solutions14 December 2020 - Published on Amazon.com
Through experiences during Attenborough’s life in sequential order we see how he viewed earth at first unaware of the fact global warming was impacting plants and animals. Looking back, he explains how we were missing information that was evident. Then, climate changes rapidly increased to where we all can see the problems. Solutions are beautifully described. We already know what to do. Some countries are already demonstrating how to increase fish in the ocean, or farm in limited space. New Zealand has a new understanding of how to calculate growth and progress. Will mankind learn and avoid a mass extinction?
3 people found this helpful
mary in new york city
A real testament from one of the great naturalists17 November 2020 - Published on Amazon.com
This one is a very important book, laying out the wonders of nature, our current climate issues, what the future might be-negative and positive....and a guide to the best, newest environmental practices that hopefully can be done.
4 people found this helpful