“I would go mad if I lived in the rainforest,” he laughs. “I like what human beings do, I’m fascinated by them, and if you want to know any of those things, a big city is the place.”
Is there anybody alive who has had first hand experience of as many species as the narrator of BBC nature documentaries across the last six decades? Maybe this makes him a prime candidate for alien abduction, but even at the ripe age of 83, he continues to expand his knowledge of nature, and ours in the process. Most recent doco? ‘Life in Cold Blood’, about ‘solar-powered reptiles and amphibians’. Currently working on? A one-off documentary about evolution, other narration and radio work, serving on the boards of several wildlife organisations, making International news about population issues, and just last week, providing news commentary on the finding of the ‘missing link’. Ready for a nap yet?
Missing Links, Or Actually : Transitional Fossils
Rather than ‘missing link’, scientists prefer the term ‘transitional fossils’, to describe the fossilized remains of intermediary forms of life that illustrate an evolutionary transition. But if Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is to be believed, argue the Creationists, why haven’t we found a fossil record of a species that is somewhere in between today’s higher primates ( humans, monkeys and apes ) and more distant relatives? Last week at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a fossil with that potential was unveiled. The scientists responsible argue the skeleton ( nicknamed ‘Ida’) wasn’t merely a lemur, but a new species, with some closer resemblances to ourselves. Dr Jens Franzen described Ida as “like the Eighth Wonder of the World”, because of the extraordinary completeness of the skeleton. The full verdict is out just yet, but naturally, there is already a David Attenborough narrated BBC programme about it. Sayeth Dave : “the “little creature is going to show us our connection with all the rest of the mammals. The link they would have said until now is missing … it is no longer missing,” he said.
Ida Vs The Creationists
Hard to imagine writing hate-mail to the curious brained David Attenborough, he with the ever-infectious popping from behind bushes kinda joyous way of explaining some obscure facet of nature. His lack of crediting God in his documentaries however, has inspired creationists to write and tell him to ‘burn in hell’. Famously he responded on a BBC interview by saying how he always remembers a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way. “I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator,” Attenborough said.
1950s, When David Attenborough started making TV? 3 billion people.
At Time of Writing? 6,836,787,487 people.
2050? An estimated 9.1 billion people
The latest of many organisations Sir David has thrown his weight behind, The Optimum Population Trust believes that Earth may not be able to support more than half its present numbers before the end of this century, and that the UK’s long-term sustainable population level may be lower than 30 million ( currently 61 ). “For the past 20 years I’ve never had any doubt that the source of the Earth’s ills is overpopulation. I can’t go on saying this sort of thing and then fail to put my head above the parapet…. If we don’t find a solution to our population problems, nature will. Other horrible factors will come along and fix it, like mass starvation.”
Last word? His astonishing list of documentaries speaks for itself.