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You can cry about death and very properly so, your own as well as anybody else’s. But it’s inevitable, so you’d better grapple with it and cope and be aware that not only is it inevitable, but it has always been inevitable, if you see what I mean.
In the old days… it was a basic, cardinal fact that producers didn’t have opinions. When I was producing natural history programmes, I didn’t use them as vehicles for my own opinion. They were factual programmes.
If my grandchildren were to look at me and say, ‘You were aware species were disappearing and you did nothing, you said nothing’, that I think is culpable. I don’t know how much more they expect me to be doing, I’d better ask them.
It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.
I don’t think we are going to become extinct. We’re very clever and extremely resourceful – and we will find ways of preserving ourselves, of that I’m sure. But whether our lives will be as rich as they are now is another question.
You can only get really unpopular decisions through if the electorate is convinced of the value of the environment. That’s what natural history programmes should be for.
The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.
The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?
People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.
An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.
We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves – and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse.
I can mention many moments that were unforgettable and revelatory. But the most single revelatory three minutes was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It’s just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions.
It is vital that there is a narrator figure whom people believe. That’s why I never do commercials. If I started saying that margarine was the same as motherhood, people would think I was a liar.
had a huge advantage when I started 50 years ago – my job was secure. I didn’t have to promote myself. These days there’s far more pressure to make a mark, so the temptation is to make adventure television or personality shows. I hope the more didactic approach won’t be lost.
I don’t like rats, but there’s not much else I don’t like. The problem with rats is they have no fear of human beings, they’re loaded with foul diseases, they would run the place given half the chance, and I’ve had them leap out of a lavatory while I’ve been sitting on it.
The whole of science, and one is tempted to think the whole of the life of any thinking man, is trying to come to terms with the relationship between yourself and the natural world. Why are you here, and how do you fit in, and what’s it all about.
I’ve been to Nepal, but I’d like to go to Tibet. It must be a wonderful place to go. I don’t think there’s anything there, but it would be a nice place to visit.
I’d like to see the giant squid. Nobody has ever seen one. I could tell you people who have spent thousands and thousands of pounds trying to see giant squid. I mean, we know they exist because we have seen dead ones. But I have never seen a living one. Nor has anybody else.
All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people and harder – and ultimately impossible to solve – with ever more people.
We really need to kick the carbon habit and stop making our energy from burning things. Climate change is also really important. You can wreck one rainforest then move, drain one area of resources and move onto another, but climate change is global.
If you watch animals objectively for any length of time, you’re driven to the conclusion that their main aim in life is to pass on their genes to the next generation.
People are not going to care about animal conservation unless they think that animals are worthwhile.
All we can hope for is that the thing is going to slowly and imperceptibly shift. All I can say is that 50 years ago there were no such thing as environmental policies.
I’m not an animal lover if that means you think things are nice if you can pat them, but I am intoxicated by animals.
The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.