Sir David Attenborough has revealed he spent much of lockdown sitting in his garden and “listening to birds”.
Forced to abandon his travels, the famous naturalist said lockdown offered “a vision of what life can be like when you’ve got more time to sit and stare”.
Time, too, to join Instagram, where he last week landed a million followers in record-breaking time.
“The message that I am concerned about is so important I would use any medium to get it out,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Speaking ahead of the release of a book and a Netflix documentary, both titled A Life On Our Planet, the 94-year-old broadcaster acknowledged that the months of lockdown had been relatively painless for him.
“Many people are having a much worse time than I am,” he told the BBC. “I am lucky. I have a garden, I have a house… my daughter and I are surviving very well.”
“I’ve certainly spent more time in my garden listening to birds, than I have for a very long time. A lot of people have been surprised by that – a lot of people have suddenly realised what deep, profound joy can come from witnessing the rest of the world – the natural world.”
He said his astonishing debut on Instagram last week – which saw him break Jennifer Aniston’s record for the fastest time to reach a million followers – gave him “great hope” that the younger generation were engaged in the issue of climate change.
“That is the most important hope,” he said.
“It’s their world and it’s their tomorrow. I won’t be there, they will be. It’s theirs and if they aren’t persuaded that it’s important, we’re wasting our time.”
“I feel privileged that they should listen to what an old bloke like me is talking about.”
But he cautioned against using overtly aggressive tactics to communicate the climate message, as favoured by some Extinction Rebellion activists recently.
“In getting it [the law] changed you have to be careful that you don’t break the law, I think.
“I also think that we have to treat the people we share our community with, with respect. Disturbing their lives to such an extent that innocent people can’t get about their own business is a serious thing to do and could disenchant an awful lot of people from the action that we’re talking about.”
“Of course I agree with their message. It’s simply a question of what is politic and sensible.”
Asked about the government’s response to the climate emergency, Sir David said they had “made the right noises” and it remained to be seen what would happen following the delayed UN climate conference, known as the COP.
The annual conference, which was due to be held in Glasgow, has been delayed to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“But we must back them, we must urge them to get international agreements as a country,” insisted Sir David warning that otherwise “it’s going to cost us a very, very great deal more”.
But what about the divergence of opinion – and actions – of some of the most industrialised nations?
“China is taking very big steps you know in many directions – it’s a huge country with an immense population. They’re starting doing things about sorting out their climate… China is moving in the right direction
“I agree that the present administration in America, from a conservationist’s point of view, is disastrous. But there we are: that’s who’s been elected and we have to go through it.”