Sir David Attenborough Is Optimistic But We Must Take Action Now for the Planet


Many naturalists and biologists warned us about an impending pandemic, due to our increasingly close and often forced interactions with the wild world. Nowhere is this more evident than in so called ‘wet markets’ of the Far East, where species who would never, ever associate in the wild (as they live in different parts of the world) are forced together, and often butchered on site in absolute unsanitary conditions. This is the scenario which likely caused the novel coronavirus which the world is grappling and has been responsible for at least 1.79 million deaths (as of December 30).  This could have been avoided.

In 2019, I spoke with Dr. Jane Goodall, who issued a general warning that “we must take action” before there is a worldwide pandemic. Among those also voicing a concern, naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough, who has been warning of exactly what did happen ultimately occur in 2020. Among those also predicting an impending crisis, veterinarians who have been a part of the One Health initiative, which is all about how humans, animals and the environment intersect.

Attenborough, at 94, and Goodall, who is 86, both remain optimistic. But the planet is changing – and people who don’t believe this are simply not opening their eyes to the evident truth. But then something else that has diminished is the value of science.

This comes at a time when I feel we should be celebrating science. It’s not any public official who came up with the vaccines (though at least one has oddly taken credit), this is the work of scientists, often collaborating around the globe.

You might believe that the 2019 indiscriminate burning of Brazilian rainforests or warming of ocean temperatures by merely two degrees doesn’t impact you where you live, but unfortunately it likely is making an impact right now. And yes, aside from the aesthetic and ethical concerns, giraffe species on the verge of mere survival or a species of endangered bat truly affects humans. As smart as we are as a species, we are too dense and self-centered to see the problem (which we mostly created).

Here’s Sir David Attenborough’s New Year’s message, I hope this time we pay attention.