Let Sir David Attenborough’s Eco-Advice Calm Your Climate Anxiety

Good morning! Syrup faves Maisie Williams, Billie Eilish and the cast of Sex Education just sat down virtually to chat to fellow Syrup fave and literal eco-legend Sir David Attenborough about climate anxiety, his career and how to appreciate and stay connected with nature during lockdown.

To celebrate the release of his Netflix documentary, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, Netflix recently shared a video of the 94-year-old nature documentarist and eco-activist answering some of the biggest questions about his career and our forthcoming climate apocalypse, from some famous fans. The clip included questions from Billie Eilish, David Beckham, Maisie Williams and Sex Education stars Asa Butler, Patricia ‘Trish’ Alison, and Kedar Williams-Stirling. 

Fun fact: David Attenborough joined Instagram late last month to raise awareness about climate change and the need for immediate action. Four hours later, and he broke a world record, having the fastest growth on the platform ever with one million followers (he currently sits at 5.4 million), per The Verge.

Billie Eilish, as the token mascot of our generation, asked the knighted climate activist and filmmaker how he copes with his “personal feelings about all the animals that are losing their lives and going extinct” from humanity’s actions? “How do you actually deal with that as a human, idk, I don’t understand. I don’t know how.”

“You feel desperate,” answered Sir Attenborough. “I think the most astonishing sight in the natural world that I’ve ever seen, and one I’ll never forget, [was] the first time I dived on a coral reef. You go into a new world and it’s a world of extraordinary beauty and complexity and wonder. You see all kinds of wonderfully colourful fish, lots of creatures you don’t even know exist. The most rich, the most beautiful, the most daring sight in the natural world.”

“And I went to almost the exact same place as when I first saw that on the [Great] Barrier Reef and instead of that life it was like a cemetery. It was stark white. It had died. It had been killed. And it had been killed by the rising temperature that we, humanity, have created. That was a terrible sight and a terrible vision of what we are doing to the natural world, not only the sea but in the land and the air.”

Adding to that, Kedar Williams-Stirling said, speaking on behalf of his Sex Education costars, “we feel that the disconnect from nature is one of the reasons the planet is the way that it is today. So we would like to know how you think people can reconnect on a budget?”

“It is amazing how much the natural world can come into our cities,” Sir Attenborough began. “Most of our cities, thank goodness, have parks of one kind or another, and there are many parts of the country that are wild parks that have been put aside so nature can flourish. And you’d be astonished how much stuff you can see there. How many different kinds of butterflies, how many different kinds of birds…”

Then, Game of Thrones star and resident matching fashion icon Maisie Williams entered the chat: “It’s a pleasure to stay connected albeit through the internet. Given the current travel restrictions, how can people better connect with nature?”

“During this recent year and months of lockdown, I’ve been spending more and more time in the garden and realising what riches there are,” reflected Sir Attenborough. “But apart from that, I’ve got a little pond—I’ve got dragonflies, wonderful dragonflies. At least half a dozen different kinds come to that pond.”

“They’re harder to see than birds but when they settle, you can see they’re wonderfully blue, turquoise blue insects of astonishing beauty and butterflies, wild bees… there’s so much to see and so much that you’ve realised you’ve never actually looked at before.”

Elsewhere in the video, Sir David Attenborough answers questions from Greenland teen activist and Arctic 2019 student participant Iluuna Sørensen to unfortunate Cats star Dame Judi Dench about our climate doom and apocalypse, and how we can help make a change. 

You can check out the full video below. Sir David Attenborough’s latest documentary, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, which looks back at some of his career’s defining moments, is available to stream on Netflix. And, if you’d like to be more sustainable, check out our guides to being plastic free, sustainable streetwear, and the beauty and skincare products that take care of your bod and the planet.

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.