A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future - David Attenborough & Jonnie Hughes
April 5, 2021
Goodreads Book Blurb:
See the world. Then make it better.
‘I am 94. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.
As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.
I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.
We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.
We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wild will return.
David Attenborough is one of those mystical humans who have the respect and admiration of the entire planet, likely to go down in history with the likes of Steve Irwin, forever remembered as the man who taught us about animals and helped us to experience a world outside our own. Having him release a book (and corresponding documentary) on a topic which, unfortunately, has been too polarising to allow significant progress in the areas which are needed, can only do good.
Attenborough’s narrative flows well and is easy to follow but doesn’t sugarcoat the situation in which we find ourselves. I appreciated learning about his career and how he came to do the work he is so well known for and his first-hand account, or witness statement as he describes it helps to drive home the very real changes he’s seen within his own lifetime. And while I know this isn’t supposed to be the moral of the story, I was so envious of his life and his work. The things he’s seen, the places he’s travelled, the experiences he’s had; I want all of it. I found it similar to Roman Dial’s The Adventurer’s Son, solely because it wasn’t the point of either book but they both made me want to spend the rest of my life exploring and having adventures in the wilderness.
I appreciated that Attenborough was able to get his point across without sounding overly preachy or political. The narrative is easy to read, the concepts are kept simple and broad without too much specification or complexity to help it appeal to a wider audience. Even easier, the documentary of the same name covers the same information but with incredible footage. That would be the biggest downside for me; I read this on my kindle and the included pictures definitely do not have the same impact in black and white.