Six minute applause for climate sceptic-turned-champion Attenborough

June 4, 2007 at 6:05 am | Posted in Attenborough, Climate change, Environment, Global warming, Natural history, Nature, Responsibility, TV | Leave a comment

Another uplifting climate tale of a hero of mine written up by a local news reporter in Wales. David Attenborough echoes feelings I expressed in my earlier post today, Hampered by design, but he can articulate much better and reach a far wider audience, of course.

Ovation for naturalist’s global warming call
Jun 4 2007

by Karen Price, Western Mail

Wildlife broadcaster talks of our responsibility for all species

SIR David Attenborough received a six-minute standing ovation after urging people to help prevent global warming for the sake of the natural world as well as themselves.

The broadcaster and naturalist, said plants and species didn’t just exist to feed us – they were there for our sanity too.

Sir David was one of the headline speakers during the closing weekend of the Hay Festival and his sell-out talk prompted huge applause.

And as he spoke about the steps he himself takes in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, he hinted that he may retire next year from making award-winning TV programmes from around the world.

Talking about his career in producing wildlife shows – which has spanned more than 50 years – and his passion for the natural world, Sir David said humans had responsibility for taking care of the planet for future generations of all species.

“Millions of species of animals and plants we share this planet with are facing just as great a threat as we are ourselves,” he said.

“Had it not been for us, the current climate would not have changed. We have destroyed so much of the natural wilderness.

“The natural world is not something which is separate. We depend upon it for our food, for the air we breathe – we are a part of it.

“We are looking after our own interests in these current changes but we must look after the natural world as well.

“We don’t just depend upon it for our health and food but some of us think we depend upon the natural world for our sanity.”

Sir David said people needed to take steps not to waste energy.

“Even if it means switching off a light and not letting it burn all night or turning off the standby switch on a television – it’s morally wrong to waste energy.”

When questioned on what he did in a bid to reduce his own carbon footprint, the 81-year-old – who travels the globe to make programmes like his Life series and the award-winning Planet Earth – said he had never run a car.

And he hinted that he may soon retire.

“I’m making a big series on amphibians and reptiles and once we finish in the new year I have no plans to go abroad again.”

But he said that while people were now concerned about global travel, “eco-travel” was helping save species. There are now more species in places like East Africa as they were supported by the tourists.

“Tourism has to be handled with sophistication, care and skill.”

Sir David, the younger brother of film director and actor Richard Attenborough, started his association with natural history programmes when he produced and presented the three-part series The Pattern of Animals during the early ‘50s.

The studio-bound programme featured animals from London Zoo and through the programme he met Jack Lester, the curator of the zoo’s reptile house.

They decided to make a series about an animal-collecting expedition. The result was Zoo Quest, first broadcast in 1954 and Sir David stepped in to present when the presenter was taken ill.

From there, his career took off and one of his first expeditions was visiting New Guinea to film the birds of paradise.

“As far as I know, we were the first Europeans to go through that part of the world. It was a marvellous privilege and a huge delight.”

Sir David said he remains “potty” about birds of paradise, which are his favourite species.

“There are 42 different species which live in or near New Guinea. Given the opportunity, I would go there again tomorrow.”

With natural history programmes attracting huge audiences over the decades, Sir David believes that they have helped to shape the political agenda.

“Thirty years ago there was no such thing as the Department of the Environment and now that’s totally changed. It’s evident there has been a change in political attitudes and I would like to think television has played some part in bringing it about.”

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