David Attenborough: 15 of the naturalist's best quotes

In celebration of his 91st birthday

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The Independent Culture

Sir David Attenborough has long been a national treasure, best known for his awe-inspiring BBC documentaries such as Life, Planet Earth, and The Blue Planet.

To celebrate the esteemed broadcaster’s 91st birthday, we’ve compiled some of his best quotes, ranging from impassioned speeches on conservation to being a humanist.

1. “I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.” 

2. “Ever since we arrived on this planet as a species, we’ve cut them down, dug them up, burnt them and poisoned them. Today we’re doing so on a greater scale than ever.”

3. “There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.”

4. “I can't pretend that I got involved with filming the natural world fifty years ago because I had some great banner to carry about conservation - not at all, I always had a huge pleasure in just watching the natural world and seeing what happens.”

5. “An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment.”

6. “I don’t run a car, have never run a car. I could say that this is because I have this extremely tender environmentalist conscience, but the fact is I hate driving.”

7.  “A hundred years ago, there were one-and-a-half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity.”

8. “People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.”

9. “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”

5 best David Attenborough moments

10. “If we [humans] disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off.”

11. “You know, it’s a terrible thing to appear on television, because people think you actually know what you’re talking about.”

12. “No, not a feminist. I’m a humanist. I’m neither one side nor the other. It’s about the human being. And wanting human beings to be better off so they don’t view children as an insurance for the future.”

13. "The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”

14. "A hundred years ago, there were one-and-a-half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity."

15. “About 70 or 80 men jumped onto the track, brandishing knives and spears. To say I was alarmed is to put it mildly… I walked towards this screaming horde of men, I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say 'good afternoon.' "

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