Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes: Sir David Attenborough

“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.”

“An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.”

“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for - the whole thing - rather than just one or two stars.”

“The whole of science, and one is tempted to think the whole of the life of any thinking man, is trying to come to terms with the relationship between yourself and the natural world. Why are you here, and how do you fit in, and what's it all about. “

“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”

“Neither have I said we have got to do this because of some pharmaceutical advantage there may or may not be. The moral issue is that we should not impoverish this world.”

“It's not just that we are dependent on the natural world for our food and for the very air we breathe-which is, of course, the case-and that the very richness of the natural world continues to provide us with all kinds of assistance.”

“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.”

“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.”