Best 45 Quotes from David Attenborough (2023)

Best 45 Quotes from David Attenborough: Conservation and Environmental Awareness

There are few individuals who have done more for the world of conservation and environmental awareness than Sir David Attenborough. As a result, we thought it only fitting that we pay him a small tribute with 45 of our favourite David Attenborough quotes.

If you want to understand his thoughts and beliefs about humanity’s impact on the world around us, the following best 45 quotes from David Attenborough will give you a flavour of how he feels. Some of them might be disheartening, but they are the reality of the world we now live in.

His long career and years of experience shows us how even in his lifetime the world has significantly changed. As a sustainable fashion brand, Cariki are trying to do something about this. It’s our mission to release clothes with the environment in mind, something that is still sadly rare in a world of fast fashion designed to be disposable.

Cariki has been going for 3 years and we have never once mentioned the illustrious Sir David Attenborough. As an inspiration to our brand, it’s only fitting that we do a deep dive into his mind.

The myth, the man, the legend… 45 of the best quotes from Sir David Attenborough.

  1. “We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that. Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our Blue Planet. The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.”
  2. “Every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food that we take, comes from the natural world. And if we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves.”
  3. “The whole of life is coming to terms with yourself and the natural world. Why are you here? How do you fit in? What’s it all about?”
  4. “We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand.”
  5. “The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans”

6. “We’re facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years - climate change,” - this was the haunting warning from Sir David Attenborough yesterday as he delivered the People’s Seat Address at COP24 in Poland. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,”

7. “The worlds people have spoken, their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now.”

8. "Right now, 8 million tonnes of plastics ends up in the oceans every year, but you by your responses have shown that if we start doing those small steps that are easily achievable we can before long really have an effect.”

9. “Now we are facing a new change. Now people have come to realise that the changes that have been taking place on this planet, are comparable with the changes which they saw in geological eras. Not over centuries as it happened in the most recent changes, but within decades”
10. “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”

11. “No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”

12. “The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.”

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13. “Now, over half of us live in an urban environment. My home, too, is here in the city of London. Looking down on this great metropolis, the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking. It’s also very sobering, and reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world. Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend. And surely, it is our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.”

14. “The people have spoken. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilizations, and the continuation of the natural world, is in your hands.”

15. "It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It's not just climate change; it's sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now."

16. "If my grandchildren were to look at me and say, 'You were aware species were disappearing and you did nothing, you said nothing', that I think is culpable. I don't know how much more they expect me to be doing, I'd better ask them."

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David Attenborough Mural, East London

17. "We really need to kick the carbon habit and stop making our energy from burning things. Climate change is also really important. You can wreck one rainforest then move, drain one area of resources and move onto another, but climate change is global."

18. "We are not overpopulated in an absolute sense; we've got the technology for 10 billion, probably 15 billion people, to live on this planet and live good lives. What we haven't done is developed our technology."

19. "I was born into a world of just under two billion people today there are nearly seven billion of us. Whenever I hear those numbers I can honestly say I find it incredible, triple the number of human beings in what seems like the blink of an eye and the world transformed utterly. Human population density is a factor in every environmental problem I have ever encountered, from urban sprawl to urban overcrowding; disappearing tropical forests to ugly sinks of plastic waste, and now the relentless increase of atmospheric pollution. I've spent much of the last 50 years seeking wilderness filming animals in their natural habitat and, to some extent, avoiding humans. But, over the years, true wilderness has become harder to find. "

20. "Human beings are good at many things, but thinking about our species as a whole is not one of our strong points."

21. "I'm very aware that this programme may be regarded as bleak or depressing - an increasing population with an ever decreasing supply of resources – but humans have capabilities that animals don't: to think rationally; to study; to plan ahead. The number of people on the planet depends on the personal decisions we each make regarding the number of children we have even setting aside the moral responsibility we have to protect other species, if we continue to damage our ecosystem, we damage ourselves. It's clear that we'll have to change the way that we live and use our resources. We're at a crossroads where we can choose to cooperate or carry on regardless. Can our intelligence save us? I hope so."

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Young david attenborough 1956

22. "The natural world is the greatest source of excitement. The greatest source of visual beauty. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living."

23. "The most single revelatory three minutes for me was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It's just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions."

24. "An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment."

25. “About 70 or 80 men jumped onto the track, brandishing knives and spears. To say I was alarmed is putting it mildly. I walked towards this screaming horde of men, I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say 'good afternoon.'"

26. "Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics."

27. "There are four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. That's four million solutions to the problem of staying alive."

28. "It's extraordinary how self-obsessed human beings are. There is so much more out there than what connects to us."

29. "I've been bitten by a python. It wasn't a very big one..."

30. "I am intoxicated by animals."

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31. “A hundred years ago, there were one-and-a-half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity.”

32. “No, not a feminist. I’m a humanist. I’m neither one side nor the other. It’s about the human being. And wanting human beings to be better off so they don’t view children as an insurance for the future.”

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

34. “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.”

35. “If we disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off.”

36. "I would be absolutely astounded if population growth and industrialisation and all the stuff we are pumping into the atmosphere hadn't changed the climatic balance. Of course it has. There is no valid argument for denial."

37. "In moments of great grief, that’s where you look and immerse yourself. You realise you are not immortal, you are not a god, you are part of the natural world and you come to accept that."

38. “For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong."

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39. “It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans. They are under threat now as never before in human history. Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point.”

40. "I think, because the oceans are so vast and because they are so mysterious, there is a sense that somehow they are untouchable, and that what we do on land cannot really alter them in any meaningful way. Not true, sadly."

41. “Young people may lack experience but they also have clear sight,” he added.“They can perhaps see more clearly than the rest of us who have been around for some time. My generation is no great example for understanding – we have done terrible things. If we are not making progress with young people we are done.”

42. “It’s absurd to suggest we can do totally without plastic but there are so many areas where we use plastic without a thought.”

43. “We have a responsibility, every one of us… we may think we live a long way from the oceans, but we don’t. What we actually do here, and in the middle of Asia and wherever, has a direct effect on the oceans – and what the oceans do then reflects back on us.”

44. “The central ingredient, a central part of human life, is a healthy planet”

45. “If you give nature a chance, it recovers… if the world can get together and stop doing it, it will recover. And I am optimistic.”

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