4 Key Takeaways From David Attenborough's 'A Life on Our Planet' | Earth.Org (2022)

In 2020, world-renowned naturalist David Attenborough released a new film – “A Life on Our Planet” – which he calls his “witness statement” for the environment. The film traces his 60-year career, outlining how steeply the health of the planet has declined in his lifetime. It also makes grim predictions for the future should humanity continue on its current path, predictions that Earth.Org has covered extensively. Here are some of the key takeaways and predictions from A Life on Our Planet.

David Attenborough maps out how humanity’s wanton destruction of nature will render the planet totally degraded and barren, uninhabitable for millions of people and bringing biodiversity populations crashing. Since the 1950s, animal populations have more than halved, while domestic birds’ populations have skyrocketed; 70% of the mass of the birds on the planet are domestic birds- mostly chickens. Humans account for over one-third of the weight of mammals on Earth. A further 60% of animals are those that are raised for us to eat. The rest- “from mice to whales”- make up just 4%. Domestic animals require vast swathes of land and half of the fertile land on the planet is now farmland.

Humans cut down up to 15 billion trees per year; this is just one facet of the planet’s degradation thanks to humans, which has resulted in 30% of fish stocks being fished to critical levels and freshwater populations declining by over 80%. The Arctic, one of the coldest and remote places on Earth, has experienced summer sea ice reducing by 40% in 40 years.

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David Attenborough makes horrifying predictions for the 2030s, 2040s, 2050s, 2080s and 2100s:


If deforestation in the Amazon rainforest continues, it will degrade to a point where it can no longer produce enough moisture, transforming into a dry savanna. Not only will this decimate the biodiversity in the rainforest, but it will also alter the global water cycle.

Additionally, the Arctic will start experiencing ice-free summers. Without the white ice caps, less of the sun’s energy will be reflected back into space, which will accelerate global warming.

(Video) Life On Our Planet By David Attenborough Audiobook

You might also like: The Amazon is at Risk of Drying Out


In the North, frozen permafrost soils will thaw, releasing methane into the atmosphere.

You might also like: Methane Emissions in the Arctic Could Amplify Global Warming


As oceans continue to heat and become more acidic, coral reefs around the world will bleach and die. This will cause fish populations to crash, which will affect millions of people who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods.

You might also like: Improving the Resilience of Coral Reefs

(Video) A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough (BOOK INSIGHTS)


Global food production will enter into a crisis as soils become exhausted by overuse. Pollinating insects will disappear and the weather will become more unpredictable.

You might also like: The Climate Crisis is Threatening Global Food Security


The planet will be four degrees Celsius warmer, rendering large parts of the Earth uninhabitable and leaving millions of people homeless. Scientists predict that the sixth mass extinction will be well underway at this point, causing irreversible damage to the planet. The security and stability of the Holocene era- our “Garden of Eden,” as Attenborough calls it, will be lost.

David Attenborough: What Can We Do?

All hope is not lost however, David Attenborough asserts. We still have time to halt and even reverse the damage we have caused to the planet. The film lays out several fairly simply and feasible solutions, including:

1. Stabilise the Global Population

We need to slow the rate at which the global population is growing; by 2100, the population is expected to reach 11 billion people. To slow the population growth rate, we need to raise people out of poverty, improve access to healthcare globally and enable children, especially girls, to stay in school for as long as possible.

(Video) Lessons From "A Life On Our Planet" (Sir David Attenborough) - FULL SUMMARY

2. Shift to Renewable Energy

We need to shift to renewable energy, a process which is already happening at a rapid- albeit not rapid enough- pace. At the turn of the century, Morocco relied on imported oil and gas for almost all of its energy. Today, it generates 40% of its needs at home from renewable sources, boasting the world’s largest solar farm. With its rapid advancements in this area, Morocco could be an energy exporter by 2050. Globally, renewable energy may be the dominant source of energy in 20 years. David Attenborough calls for divestment from fossil fuels, and points out the irony of banks and investment firms investing pension funds in fossil fuels when it’s these dirty fuels preventing the future that we are saving for.

3. Restore Biodiversity

We need to restore-or “rewild”- biodiversity on the planet. When ecosystems are more diverse, they are better able to perform essential ecosystem services, like carbon sequestration. An example of this is the oceans. Palau is a western Pacific island nation dependent on its oceans for food and tourism. When fishing stocks were rapidly depleting, the government restricted fishing practices and banned fishing entirely in some areas. The protected fish populations soon became so healthy that they spilled into areas where fishing was allowed. These no-fish zones resulted in increased catches for fishermen and recovered coral reefs. Globally, if no-fish zones were implemented over a third of the world’s oceans, we would have all the fish we would need. The UN is trying to do just that- create the largest no-fish zone in international waters.

Additionally, we need to reduce the space we use for farmland to instead make space for returning wilderness. The easiest way to do this is to change our diets. If we all had a largely plant-based diet, David Attenborough says, we would need half the land we use now. In nature, large carnivores are fairly rare; for every predator on the Serengeti, there are more than 100 prey animals. The Netherlands is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. This has forced Dutch farmers to use land much more efficiently. Through creative and innovative changes to farming practices, in two generations, the nation has raised yields tenfold while using less water, fewer pesticides and fertilisers and emitting less carbon. Today, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of food.

4. End Deforestation

Finally, we need to halt deforestation as forests are the planet’s biggest ally in locking away carbon. Further, forests must be more biodiverse as this will make them more effective at absorbing carbon. Crops like oil palm and soya should only be grown on land that was deforested long ago. The example of Costa Rica is used. A century ago, more than three-quarters of the nation was covered with forest. By the 1980s, thanks to rampant deforestation, this was reduced to one quarter. The government intervened, giving grants to landowners to replant native trees. Thanks to this initiative, forests now cover half of Costa Rica once more.

The problem is immense, but we already have the knowledge and skills to halt and reverse it. We need to reexamine our relationship with nature, working with it instead of against it, to restore our planet to its former glory.

(Video) Book Summary | A Life on Our Planet By David Attenborough | Audiobook Academy

Featured image by: Flickr


What can we learn from David Attenborough a life on our planet? ›

As David Attenborough said in his documentary, “Life On Our Planet”, we can only thrive if everything around us thrives. In that way we must make a conscious effort to help nature continue to thrive. “If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us”.

What is the main message of our planet? ›

Nature is vital – we can't survive without it. But our world is under threat like never before. Our Planet, a groundbreaking eight-part documentary series voiced by Sir David Attenborough, will raise awareness of the world's rarest wildlife and most precious habitats, and the threats they face.

What are five steps to help save our planet as outlined by Mr Attenborough? ›

The Five Steps to Help Save Our Planet outlined by Mr. Attenborough are:
  • Make your diet as plant-based as possible;
  • Shop for sustainable fish and meat;
  • Switch to a clean energy provider;
  • Choose deforestation-free palm oil products; and.
  • Buy wood and paper from well-managed forests.
18 Apr 2021

What is the summary of how do you save our planet? ›

How to Save Our Planet is a call to action, guaranteed to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change. Be under no illusion the challenges of the twenty-first century are immense. We need to deal with: climate change, environmental destruction, global poverty and ensure everyone's security.

What does David Attenborough believe about the way human beings live? ›

The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel. Yet the way we humans live on Earth is sending it into a decline. Human beings have overrun the world. We're replacing the wild with the tame.

What does David Attenborough say about our future? ›

ATTENBOROUGH: I don't think it is a responsible thing to do is to simply say that what we see the future, it's very dangerous, and to hell with it. We have to do our best. And I believe we can do our best.

Why is Our Planet important? ›

Our home planet provides us with life and protects us from space. Earth, our home planet, is a world unlike any other. The third planet from the sun, Earth is the only place in the known universe confirmed to host life.

What does the stability of life on Our Planet rely on? ›

The stability of life relies on the connection between habitats. The biomes across our planet connect to one another, so the health of one will affect the health of others.

Will there be an Our Planet 2? ›

Our Planet season two has not been confirmed and does not have a release date yet. David Attenborough fans may have a while to wait until they get another series of Our Planet on Netflix.

How can we save our planet from global warming? ›

10 Ways to Stop Global Warming
  1. Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  2. Drive less. ...
  3. Recycle more. ...
  4. Check your tires. ...
  5. Use less hot water. ...
  6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
  7. Adjust your thermostat. ...
  8. Plant a tree.

How can we save our environment? ›

Choose reusable over single-use

All of the above items (and more) have more environmentally responsible counterparts. Switch to reusable items and make a commitment to use them as often as possible. You'll have less trash piling up at your curb, and you'll be helping to protect the environment in a major way.

When did David Attenborough start helping the environment? ›

Sir David began working on natural history programmes in the 1950s, and his programmes filmed in far-flung parts of the world became immensely popular. In the past four years, his warnings about the damage that climate change is causing the planet and humans have become more stark.

How many years do we have left to save the earth? ›

Scientists say eight years left to avoid worst effects.” : “IPCC climate report gives us 10 years to save the world.”

How can we save our nature essay? ›

Soil conservation is yet another important way to save the Environment. For this, there must be control of landslides, floods, and soil erosion. Furthermore, there should also be afforestation and tree plantation to conserve the soil. Also, terrace farming and using natural fertilizers are some more ways.

How will you help our Mother Earth to restore in your own ways essay? ›

Ways to save Mother Earth includes planting more and more trees, using renewable sources of energy, reducing the wastage of water, saving electricity, reducing the use of plastic, conservation of non-renewable resources, conserving the different flora and faunas, taking steps to reduce pollution, etc.

What is David Attenborough's message? ›

Sir David stresses the importance of the world's oceans and how they effect every living thing on Earth from the air we breathe, and the water we consume. It drives the weather and stabilises the climate.

What is one solution to our environmental problems that Attenborough advocates? ›

The trick is to raise the standard of living around the world, without increasing our impact on that world," he says. “If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us."

What would happen to the world if humans become extinct? ›

Lacking human oversight, glitches in oil refineries and nuclear plants would go unchecked, likely resulting in massive fires, nuclear explosions and devastating nuclear fallout. "There's going to be a gush of radiation if suddenly we disappear.

What changes do we need to make to increase the stability and health of our planet? ›

Phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with renewables will slow the warming of the planet and the acidification of the ocean and create clean air for all of us. Upgrading to efficient food production and reducing our consumption of meat.

What does the stability of life on our planet rely on? ›

The stability of life relies on the connection between habitats. The biomes across our planet connect to one another, so the health of one will affect the health of others.

How long is David Attenborough a life on our planet? ›

When was a life on our planet filmed? ›

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is a 2020 British documentary film narrated by David Attenborough and produced and directed by Jonnie Hughes.

What are 3 things you think are essential for the health of the planet? ›

If you want to take small eco-friendly steps to jump start your health, keep reading. It's easier than you think.
  • Ditch the car and walk more often. ...
  • Get a reusable water bottle. ...
  • Eat more locally grown, organic produce. ...
  • Reduce your meat consumption. ...
  • Make your home a little greener.
22 Apr 2019

How can we make our world a better place without destroying anything? ›

10 things you can do to help save our planet
  1. Use your voice. We are the first generation to know we're destroying the world, and we could be the last that can do anything about it. ...
  2. Be Informed. ...
  3. Be political. ...
  4. Travel responsibly. ...
  5. Eat sustainably. ...
  6. Reduce your waste. ...
  7. Watch what you buy. ...
  8. Find ways to donate.

What are the 4 factors that make a planet habitable? ›

It is the right distance from the Sun, it is protected from harmful solar radiation by its magnetic field, it is kept warm by an insulating atmosphere, and it has the right chemical ingredients for life, including water and carbon.

What are the factors that support life on Earth? ›

It is useful to categorize the requirements for life on Earth as four items: energy, carbon, liquid water, and various other elements. These are listed in Table 1 along with the occurrence of these factors in the Solar System (2).

What does David describe as the true tragedy of our time? ›

People are also reading… In the Netflix documentary, produced by Silverback Films and World Wildlife Fund, Attenborough says, “The true tragedy of our time is still unfolding across the globe, barely noticeable from day to day—the loss of our planet's biodiversity.”


1. Our Planet | One Planet | FULL EPISODE | Netflix
2. David Attenborough's 'A Life On Our Planet' - Episode #83
(InfoQuench Podcast)
3. A Life on Our Planet: Sir David Attenborough's Witness Statement
(Factual America Podcast)
4. Our Planet | From Deserts to Grasslands | FULL EPISODE | Netflix
5. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet || Full Audiobook
6. A Reply to David Attenborough's A Life On Our Planet
(Michael McGillicuddy)

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