David Attenborough says humans have made ‘tragic, desperate mess’ of planet

Broadcaster urges people to look after natural world as he launches new series with conservation ‘at its heart’

Chris Baynes
Sunday 20 October 2019 07:07
David Attenborough's Seven Worlds, One Planet trailer

Humanity has made a “tragic, desperate mess” of the planet, Sir David Attenborough has said.

The veteran broadcaster urged people to “look after the natural world” and waste nothing, as he prepared for his latest series to air this week.

Seven Worlds, One Planet, breaks with the tradition of previous BBC Natural History Unit programmes by putting a conservation message “at its heart”, instead of being tagged on at the end of each episode.

The series, which has been four years in the making, features wildlife firsts and has already been bought by broadcasters around the world.

Producers took drones over “volcanoes, waterfalls, icebergs and underground into caves” to shoot heart-wrenching “animal dramas” in all seven continents, the BBC said.

Dramatic scenes include a lone, grey-headed albatross chick in Antarctica being blown off its nest as a result of increasingly intense storms in the region.

Speaking at the launch, Sir David, who presents the programme, said: “We are now universal, our influence is everywhere. We have it in our hands, and we made a tragic, desperate mess of it so far. But, at last, nations are coming together and recognising that we all live on the same planet ... and we are dependent on it for every mouthful of food we eat and every breath of air we take.”

Asked what we can do to save the planet, Sir David, 93, said: “The best motto ... is not to waste things.

“Don’t waste electricity, don’t waste paper, don’t waste food – live the way you want to live, but just don’t waste.”

The broadcaster added: “Look after the natural world, the animals in it and the plants in it too. This is their planet as well as ours. Don’t waste.”

The seven-part series will reveal “new species and behaviours,” producers said.

Highlights include “a new species of jumping spider, in Australia, with dance moves that need to be seen to be believed”, and “the most extraordinary gigantic gathering of great whales” in Antarctica.

BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall said there had “never been a more important time to bring nature’s wonders to everybody”.

He said: “This series has conservation at its heart. Each one of the seven episodes takes on some of the major threats facing the world today. “

Sir David suggested he was perceived as a “crank” when he and the Natural History Unit began broadcasting programmes with an underlying message about caring for the natural world.

“But as it’s gone on, and we’ve repeated it on and on and on – not wasting things, not polluting things – then suddenly, for no reason that I can understand ... suddenly you hit the right note," he said.

His 2017 series, Blue Planet II, raised awareness around the world of the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution.

“We don’t understand how it happens but with Blue Planet II, suddenly the world was electrified about the crime of chucking plastic into the ocean that can throttle creatures, that can poison creatures, including ourselves,” Sir David said.

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However, some scientists have accused Sir David’s programmes of “actively misleading audiences” by showing nature as pristine and seldom damaged by man.

The new programmes, the result of 92 film shoots in over 40 countries, features “grave-robbing hamsters” in Austria and polar bears in a never-before-seen hunting strategy to catch beluga whales.

Antarctica, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia will feature over different episodes in the seven-part series.

Seven Worlds, One Planet begins on Sunday 27 October at 6.15pm on BBC One.

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