by Kate Humble
If legacy is a requisite for a statue, then there can be no argument when it comes to David Attenborough. His achievements as a broadcaster and naturalist are without parallel. For more than 60 years he has been the nation’s guide to our planet and its natural wonders. Generations of us have travelled vicariously with him to the tops of mountains, the bottoms of oceans, to deserts, rainforests and the icy expanses of the poles. We have crawled into caves, climbed trees, burrowed into termite mounds, scrabbled under hedges. We have been shown that even in the most inhospitable of places, as well as right on our own doorsteps, there is life, everywhere, on Earth.
And once Attenborough has helped us make that discovery, there is no need for hyperbole, for a stream of trump-card statistics, because he knows the natural world can speak for itself. He knows it can leave you speechless, breathless with delight, and he allows us that moment, so that when he goes on to explain that every living thing, from the vast to the tiny, from the magnificent to the nondescript, has a role, a purpose, we don’t simply understand why that is important – we care.
And by opening our eyes and making us care, Attenborough has been able to educate and inspire and influence people of all ages and all backgrounds. There are – and will be for a long time to come – scientists, conservationists, naturalists, and broadcasters who will cite Attenborough as their role model, who will take up his baton and ensure that for future generations there will still be life on Earth.