David Attenborough to publish 'witness statement' on climate crisis

Alison Flood
Photograph: Alex Board/AP

David Attenborough is to publish his “vision for the future” of Earth this autumn, laying out “the dreadful damage” done by humanity, and the ways “we can begin to turn things round”.

A Life on Our Planet, which the 94-year-old has described as his “witness statement”, will cover his career documenting the natural world and his first-hand observations of the decline of the planet’s environment and biodiversity, as well as possible solutions.

“This book records some of the dreadful damage mankind has already wrought upon the natural world, and the real and imminent danger that things could get much, much worse if we do not act now,” said Attenborough. “But it is also a hopeful book: it offers a different future. It describes some of the ways in which we can begin to turn things around, if only we all have the will to do so. Surely together we must now find that determination, and begin to make that change, for the sake of all the inhabitants of our planet.”

The broadcaster and natural historian said he has had “an extraordinary life”, and that “it’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary”.

He added: “As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day: the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. I have been a witness to this decline, and this book contains my witness statement, and my vision for the future – the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake. And how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.”

Attenborough, whose career with the BBC spans six decades, has written several bestselling books including Adventures of a Young Naturalist, Journeys to the Other Side of the World, Life on Air and Life on Earth.

Publisher Ebury described A Life on Our Planet as “legacy-defining” for Attenborough. It will be released in October, coinciding with a Netflix documentary film of the same name commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund. “It’s David’s masterpiece – a book with huge heart and urgency, and a message the world needs now more than ever,” said publisher Albert DePetrillo, who is using the book as the launch title for a new imprint devoted to natural history books by writers who help us “see the world, and make it better”.