Last week, Sir David Attenborough did an exclusive article for the Radio Times, reflecting on the Planet Earth 2 series. And, as you all probably now know, I am a huge fan of Attenborough and his work, so I thought I’d share his thoughts (and a few of mine!) on the epic series that captured our hearts.
Attenborough explains that in a turbulent world, the Planet Earth series often acts as a refuge for viewers. It is a chance for us for one hour, every Sunday at 8pm, to turn to the natural world for sanctuary. But as David explained in the opening episode, ‘never has the wilderness been as fragile and as precious as it is today’. Each episode showed us what we face losing if we do not step up and address these environmental challenges. In a previous blog post I explained that nature documentaries showcase how beautiful the natural world still is. I explained that witnessing these ‘perfect’ habitats motivates us to restore degraded ecosystems back to their natural state. We can literally visualise our conservation goals.
Apparently this series attracted over 10 million viewers, with more young viewers (aged 16-35) than The X-Factor. Attenborough is immensely pleased that the younger generations are reconnecting with “a planet whose beauty is blemished, whose health is failing, because they understand our own well-being is inextricably linked to that of the planet’s”. After all, it is the next generation who will be the environmental champions of the future. That is why nature documentaries are so important. Planet Earth doesn’t just transport these animals into our homes, it deliver us into theirs. In this series, the latest technology and stunning HD allowed us to be closer than ever, almost feeling included in the daily struggles the animals endure to survive. Common emotions and themes of life, love and loss connect us to the animals. We come to understand that their survival is our survival.
Ten years ago in the original Planet Earth series, Attenborough did not include cities as it was felt they were not a significant habitat. Today, they certainly are. With over half the world’s population now living in towns or cities, we are encroaching into the natural world, so animals must find respite in ours. In the final episode of Planet Earth 2, Attenborough explained that although we must preserve what is left of our natural habitats, those designing our cities must be mindful of all inhabitants. Both humans and animals. Many cities today deprive humans of contact with nature. In a previous blog I explained the benefits of nature for child development, happiness and general wellbeing. As a species, we need nature to thrive and survive.
At the end of the series ten years ago, Attenborough’s closing remarks were: “our planet is still full of wonders…we can now destroy or we can cherish. The choice is ours.” And today, at the end of Planet Earth 2, his message is even more pertinent, and it is even more essential that we listen.
“It is surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life.”