Sir David Attenborough, an English broadcaster, author and biologist, has been one of the world’s most prominent environmentalists for over half a century. Born in 1926, he began his television career in 1952, when he joined the BBC. His first show, Zoo Quest, was a large success, as he provided a new way of bringing the beauty of nature into millions of households. After parting ways with the BBC, he began to produce many natural history movies and documentaries as a freelancer.
Initially, Attenborough created his content without wanting to start a conversation. He simply wanted to display all the amazing sides nature has to offer. However, once he realized that the wildlife and nature he was filming were in danger, he wanted to help to preserve it. He did so by creating Nature Documentaries in a way they hadn’t been seen before. His ways of capturing all the facets our planet has to offer were truly revolutionary and the beginning of Natural History Documentaries as we know them today. His impact doesn’t only involve the exceptional environmentalism he displayed, but also his role as a revolutionary television producer. He was at the forefront of bringing color to the television by overseeing the first ever color broadcasts in Europe in 1965. His ability to find new ways of reaching an audience was truly remarkable. While he found new ways of displaying what he discovered, he was also able to show places, people, and animals that hadn’t been filmed before. Attenborough traveled the world, bringing some of the most remote places to millions of living rooms.
What makes his work stand out is his way to promote environmentalism. Rather than forcing it onto the audience, he used a subtle approach. He wanted the audience to fall in love with the fascinating nature he was showing, leading them to get motivated to preserve it. His passion for nature is clearly shown through his work and spreads onto everyone watching. One of his most influential works, the show Life on Earth, is estimated to have been watched by over 500 million people, showing the reach his work had. Another factor that makes him so influential is his ability to amaze an audience, even at an old age. In a digitalized world, he is still able to successfully promote sustainability, recently narrating the 2019 published show Our Planet. Additionally, he was recognized with the UNEP Champions of Earth Lifetime Achievement Award, which represents dedication to research, documentation, and advocacy for the protection of nature. Not only does this award show his determination and passion for sustainability, but it also represents his impact. Inger Anderse, executive director of the UNEP, accredited the possibility of averting climate breakdowns to Attenborough, saying “it’s because millions of us fell in love with the planet that he showed us”.
Sir David Attenborough is undoubtedly one of the most influential climate activists in history. Through his efforts he was able to reach millions of people, inspiring them to preserve our planet and join the fight against environmental issues.