In case you missed it last night (assuming you are reading this from the UK or US – it is yet to be aired in Australia, the Nordic countries, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and another 40+ countries but will be in due course) I strongly recommend you catch up with the Obama/Attenborough interview. In an unprecedented screening the President of the United States asked all the questions when he invited Sir David to discuss issues such as Climate Change and conservation with him at the White House on his 89th birthday. It was clear that both men were slightly in awe of each other and both enjoyed the experience. Sir David appeared like he was in a dream as he was driven to the White House.
The main thing I was thrilled about was that in a very high profile staging, the natural world was at centre stage. Hopefully it did something to inspire someone who was previously unaware or uninspired to get out there and explore or at least to give a damn about nature and the environment.
Obama admitted that ‘we’re not moving as fast as we need to’ and that a global solution is what is required. Having the USA on board in terms of tackling climate change for example is vital (as is China and Obama wanted to make it very clear that he had been moving forward with encouraging China to curb its emissions). Another key thing that both Sir David and Obama raised is that people won’t protect nature if they don’t value or understand it. They agreed that children need to be encouraged to ‘get out there’ and experience nature not in front of the TV screen (although it is great if children watch nature documentaries) but in the field – visiting national parks (as Obama said) but also just getting outside and exploring.
These two men – giants in their own way, will unfortunately not be around forever and so it was a necessary screening to encourage others to think along similar lines and to ensure that the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, human population rise and species extinction are kept in the public eye and not brushed under the carpet as they so often are. People may know it is happening but, rather like killing animals in an abattoir, it is something they do not often want to talk about or face up to.
Obama is reaching the end of his presidency but the question must be raised what is it that he is going to do afterwards? Could he reach out to environmentalists and become an environmental campaigner? Anything is possible. For the remainder of his time in office however I hope that he makes the absolute most of the opportunities available and raises awareness of the issues he discussed with Sir David as much as possible. Eyes will be particularly keen come the UN Climate Change talks in Paris this December.
Sir David is 89 but is still going strong, continuing to make programmes and to campaign for the issues he has dedicated his life to. He has certainly inspired me and I hope that his programmes will inspire others long after he himself has left us.