My book review of 'A Life on Planet Earth' by David Attenborough

A Life on Planet Earth

by David Attenborough
A Life on Planet Earth
by David Attenborough

When the day-to-day may be enough to contend with, you'd be forgiven for not feeling able to take on board the implications of climate change.

But in this new book, David Attenborough pleads that we don't delay. Yes, there are some hard facts to absorb but he encourages us, too, to marvel at the natural world and leaves the reader feeling determined, energised and empowered.

As David Attenborough revisits the milestones of his career, he points out how the earth's bounty has been diminishing year by year. His chapter headings list startling figures for the rise in population and increasing carbon in the atmosphere, while simultaneously highlighting a diminishing wilderness.

We have replaced the wild with the tame, he says. We have overrun the Earth.

And the richest 16 per cent of the population are responsible for 50 per cent of humanity's impact on the natural world.

The challenge of improving the lives of people everywhere while reducing the impact on the natural environment may seem daunting, but it is possible, he says, and outlines how nature has the answers. He also gives examples of countries which are making innovative and effective interventions.

"I wish I wasn't involved in this struggle," he says. "[But] I've had unbelievable luck and good fortune in my life. I would certainly feel very guilty if, having realised what the dangers are, I decided to ignore them."

All the readers of this book will be grateful that this trusted, respected patriarch has done so in this engaging and accessible clarion call. Let's hope we will all feel able to heed its message and to act.

Review date: October 2020
Publication date: 1st October 2020