David Attenborough

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Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Frederick Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS (born 8 May 1926) is a pioneering British natural history filmmaker and writer.

Sourced[edit]

  • I often get letters, quite frequently, from people who say how they like the programmes a lot, but I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature. To which I reply and say, "Well, it's funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the Almighty, always quote beautiful things. They always quote orchids and hummingbirds and butterflies and roses." But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he's five years old. And I reply and say, "Well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well," and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action. And therefore it seems to me safer to show things that I know to be truth, truthful and factual, and allow people to make up their own minds about the moralities of this thing, or indeed the theology of this thing.
    • From the BBC documentary Life on Air (2002)
  • If we [humans] disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off.
    • The Daily Telegraph (London, 2005-11-12), making the point that the reverse is not true
  • They ate a pig’s anus? Oh, come on. I have to tell you there is nothing there to eat. Is it fair? I think the pig is past caring whether it is fair or not. Look, my view is that any bloody fool can be uncomfortable. I don’t go into harrowing circumstances for fun or entertainment. I mean, I am not a hair-shirt guy.
    • Ridiculing the TV series "I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!"
    • Daily Mail, 3rd December 2011 [1]

A Blank on the Map (1971)[edit]

  • Trade is a proper and decent relationship, with dignity and respect on both sides.
    • 44 min 10 sec, On civil behavior when encountering an uncontacted tribe

The First Eden (1987)[edit]

Episode 2: "The Gods Enslaved"

  • The Roman public's thirst for blood and pleasure in witnessing pain seems to have been unquenchable and without limit." "The caged animals were kept in dungeons below the main arena. The terrified animals in their cages were hoisted up from this pit. And not only animals, human beings too, criminals, slaves and prisoners of war. And here in this arena they were set one upon the other to provide the crowd with spectacles of the most appalling carnage. It still continues to this day in Spain.
  • And yet, today the harbour is silted up, most of the city lies buried beneath sand dunes and the land has become a desert. As the population had grown and more people wanted more fields, so more of the forest that once stood around the city was cut down, until eventually it was all gone. With no roots to hold the soil, and no attempt to conserve it, it was carried away by the wind and the rain.
    • 49 min 40 sec
  • And this is where it went. In places all around the eastern Mediterranean the sea is separated from the mainland by strips of flat marshy land like this. Made up of the soil that once clothed the hills beyond. All this was deposited during the last 2000 years. This is the marsh that now separates the sea from the city of Ephesus. These ruined buildings mark the edge of the quay where once merchant ships lay moored. As the harbour died, so did the trade upon which the city's wealth was based, and so, well, ultimately did Ephesus itself. What was once one of the most splendid cities in the Roman Empire fell into decay and was abandoned.
    • 50 min 10 sec
  • It used to be said, that in places like this, nature eventually failed to support man, the truth is exactly the reverse, here man failed to support nature. Ten thousand years ago man regarded the natural world as divine, but as he domesticated animals and plants so nature lost some of its mystery and appeared to be little more than a larder that could be raided with impunity.
    • 52 min 20 sec

Life on Earth (1979)[edit]

  • There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive. This is the story of how a few of them came to be as they are.
    • Opening narration
  • This is the last programme in this natural history, and it's very different from all the others because it's been devoted to just one animal: ourselves. And that may have been a very misleading thing to have done. It may have given the impression that somehow man was the ultimate triumph of evolution, that all those thousands of millions of years of development had no purpose other than to put man on Earth. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever for such a belief. No reason to suppose that man's stay on Earth should be any longer than that of the dinosaurs. He may have learned how to control his environment, how to pass on information from one generation to another, but the very forces of evolution that brought him into existence here on these African plains are still at work elsewhere in the world, and if man were to disappear, for whatever reason, there is doubtless somewhere some small, unobtrusive creature that would seize the opportunity and, with a spurt of evolution, take man's place. But although denying a special place in the world may be becomingly modest, the fact remains that man has an unprecedented control over the world and everything in it. And so, whether he likes it or not, what happens next is very largely up to him.
    • Closing lines

The Living Planet (1984)[edit]

  • Our planet, the Earth, is, as far as we know, unique in the universe. It contains life. Even in its most barren stretches, there are animals. Around the equator, where those two essentials for life, sunshine and moisture, are most abundant, great forests grow. And here plants and animals proliferate in such numbers that we still have not even named all the different species. Here, animals and plants, insects and birds, mammals and man live together in intimate and complex communities, each dependent on one another. Two thirds of the surface of this unique planet are covered by water, and it was here indeed that life began. From the oceans, it has spread even to the summits of the highest mountains as animals and plants have responded to the changing face of the Earth.
    • Opening narration
  • Immensely powerful though we are today, it's equally clear that we're going to be even more powerful tomorrow. And what's more there will be greater compulsion upon us to use our power as the number of human beings on Earth increases still further. Clearly we could devastate the world. […] As far as we know, the Earth is the only place in the universe where there is life. Its continued survival now rests in our hands.
    • Closing lines

The Trials of Life (1990)[edit]

  • The savage, rocky shores of Christmas Island, 200 miles south of Java, in the Indian Ocean. It's November, the moon is in its third quarter, and the sun is just setting. And in a few hours from now, on this very shore, a thousand million lives will be launched.
    • Opening words
  • 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. Most do so directly, by breeding. In the few examples that don't do so by design, they do it indirectly, by helping a relative with whom they share a great number of their genes. And in as much as the legacy that human beings pass on to the next generation is not only genetic but to a unique degree cultural, we do the same. So animals and ourselves, to continue the line, will endure all kinds of hardship, overcome all kinds of difficulties, and eventually the next generation appears. This albatross is over 30 years old, she's already a grandmother, and this year once again she has produced a chick. She will devote the next 10 months of her life looking after it. She has faced the trials of life and triumphed, for her little 2 day old chick the trials are just beginning.
    • Closing lines

Life in the Freezer (1993)[edit]

  • I am at the very centre of the great white continent, Antarctica. The South Pole is about half a mile away. For a thousand miles in all directions, there is nothing but ice. And, in the whole of this continent, which is about one-and-a-half times the size of the United States and larger than Europe, there is a year-round population of no more than 800 people. This is the loneliest and coldest place on Earth, the place that is most hostile to life. And yet, in one or two places, it is astonishingly rich.
    • Opening words
  • At a time when it's possible for thirty people to stand on the top of Everest in one day, Antarctica still remains a remote, lonely and desolate continent. A place where it's possible to see the splendours and immensities of the natural world at its most dramatic and, what's more, witness them almost exactly as they were, long, long before human beings ever arrived on the surface of this planet. Long may it remain so.
    • Closing lines

The Private Life of Plants (1995)[edit]

  • Midwinter, and the countryside is so still, it seems almost lifeless. But these trees and bushes and grasses around me are living organisms just like animals. And they have to face very much the same sort of problems as animals face throughout their lives if they're to survive. They have to fight one another, they have to compete for mates, they have to invade new territories. But the reason that we're seldom aware of these dramas is that plants of course live on a different time-scale.
    • Opening words
  • Ever since we arrived on this planet as a species, we've cut them down, dug them up, burnt them and poisoned them. Today we're doing so on a greater scale than ever […] We destroy plants at our peril. Neither we nor any other animal can survive without them. The time has now come for us to cherish our green inheritance, not to pillage it – for without it, we will surely perish.
    • Closing lines

Attenborough in Paradise (1996)[edit]

  • Wallace's emotions on discovering such marvels must surely be echoed by all of us who follow him. This is what he wrote:
    "I thought of the long ages of the past during which the successive generations of these things of beauty had run their course. Year by year being born and living and dying amid these dark gloomy woods with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness, to all appearances such a wanton waste of beauty. It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man, many of them have no relation to him, their happiness and enjoyment's, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone."

The Life of Birds (1998)[edit]

  • Birds are the most accomplished aeronauts the world has ever seen. They fly high and low, at great speed, and very slowly. And always with extraordinary precision and control.
    • Opening narration
  • Birds were flying from continent to continent long before we were. They reached the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica, long before we did. They can survive in the hottest of deserts. Some can remain on the wing for years at a time. They can girdle the globe. Now, we have taken over the earth and the sea and the sky, but with skill and care and knowledge, we can ensure that there is still a place on Earth for birds in all their beauty and variety – if we want to … and surely, we should.
    • Closing lines

The Life of Mammals (2002)[edit]

  • Warm-bloodedness is one of the key factors that have enabled mammals to conquer the Earth, and to develop the most complex bodies in the animal kingdom. In this series, we will travel the world to discover just how varied and how astonishing mammals are.
    • Episode I
  • Three and a half million years separate the individual who left these footprints in the sands of Africa from the one who left them on the moon. A mere blink in the eye of evolution. Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever-increasing population. In spite of disasters when civilisations have over-reached themselves, that process has continued, indeed accelerated, even today. Now mankind is looking for food, not just on this planet but on others. Perhaps the time has now come to put that process into reverse. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it's time we control the population to allow the survival of the environment.
    • Closing lines

Life in the Undergrowth (2005)[edit]

  • An eye from another world; a smell-detector, investigating the path ahead. We don't often see a snail that way, and that's because we've only recently had the tiny lenses and electronic cameras that we need to explore this miniature world. But when we meet its inhabitants face to face, we suddenly realise that their behaviour can be just as meaningful to us as the behaviour of many animals more our own size.
    • Opening narration
  • If we and the rest of the backboned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if they were to disappear, the land's ecosystems would collapse. The soil would lose its fertility. Many of the plants would no longer be pollinated. Lots of animals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals would have nothing to eat. And our fields and pastures would be covered with dung and carrion. These small creatures are within a few inches of our feet, wherever we go on land – but often, they're disregarded. We would do very well to remember them.
    • Closing lines

Life in Cold Blood (2008)[edit]

  • Reptiles and amphibians are sometimes thought of as primitive, dull and dimwitted. In fact, of course, they can be lethally fast, spectacularly beautiful, surprisingly affectionate and very sophisticated.
    • Opening words
  • Reptiles and amphibians are sometimes seen as simple, primitive creatures. That's a long way from the truth. The fact that they are solar-powered means that their bodies require only 10% of the energy that mammals of a similar size require. At a time when we ourselves are becoming increasingly concerned about the way in which we get our energy from the environment and the wasteful way in which we use it, maybe there are things that we can learn from "life in cold blood."
    • Closing lines

Interview in Metro 29 Jan 2013[edit]

Metro link

  • I don’t like rats but there’s not much else I don’t like.
  • To suggest that God specifically created a worm to torture small African children is blasphemy as far as I can see.
  • 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 thing about a bush baby is that the male establishes its territory by peeing on his hands and putting it all on the walls. And after you've had a pair for about six months, you can see people coming into the house, sniffing and going: ‘Now, that’s definitely not mulligatawny soup.’
  • If you understand about the natural world, we’re a part of the system and you can’t feed lions grass. But because we have the intelligence to choose… But we haven’t got the gut to allow us to be totally vegetarian for a start. You can tell by the shape of our guts and the shape of our teeth that we evolved to be omnivores. We aren't carnivores like lions but neither are we elephants.
    • When asked if realising that animals are intelligent makes him want to be a vegetarian.

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