David At­ten­bor­ough

The Guardian - G2 - - Shortcuts -

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.

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