SOMETIMES it’s hard not to despair at the destruction we humans wreak on our beleaguered planet.
But if there’s one man able to provide us with a sense of hope at the start of a new year, it’s Sir David Attenborough.
No one is better placed to understand the scale of the challenge. With over 60 years of wildlife documentary-making under his belt, he’s visited some of the most spectacular places on earth and encountered some of the world’s most remarkable animals.
Last year, he told us in his hour-long film Extinction: The Facts: “Only now do I realise just how lucky I’ve been. Many of these wonders seem set to disappear forever.”
This year he’s back on our screens with another stunning series, The Green Planet, this time focusing on the life of plants.
But rather than use one of the stunning images from his TV programmes, our picture choice this week reminds us of the extraordinary achievements of the man himself: now in his mid-90s but still a soothing and reassuring voice, despite the increasing starkness of his message.
It’s only too tempting to lash out in anger at the state of our planet. In our anthrocene epoch, there are no shortage of targets for our wrath, from the multinational companies ripping the rainforest apart to the flytippers leaving household debris scattered across our countryside.
Sir David, who, like the Queen, has been on our planet for almost a century, has spent that lifetime telling us in his distinctive hushed tones about the beauty of the natural world and must know those frustrations better than most.
His latest series reflects on the importance of plants to every breath we take and every mouthful we eat, gently reminding us that we can’t afford to take nature for granted.
It’s Attenborough at his best: awe-struck, full of wonder and curiosity. A natural storyteller, he finds it easy to enthral an audience of all ages and he knows it’s that education and engagement that holds the key to our shared futures.
Shouting apocalyptic warnings might make us switch off in horror. Showing us at first hand the wonders of our planet might just make more of us want to protect it, before it’s too late.