Josh Mitchell (Colchester Royal Grammar School) reviews David Attenborough's 'A Life On Our Planet'

For 70 years, Sir David Attenborough has appeared on our screens engaging millions of awestruck viewers through his prize-winning documentaries. Whether it be the astonishing footage, the imposing soundtrack or simply the phenomenon of the natural world; every viewer becomes instantly mesmerised with the power of Mother Nature.

“A Life on Our Planet” does not fail to meet the high standards of Attenborough. The reader is able to learn more about the impressive and inspiring life that Attenborough has led. From childhood adventures finding fossils to producing BAFTA winning documentaries, Attenborough explains not only his life story but also the story of how planet Earth has deteriorated.

Attenborough then presents his “Witness Statement” – an account of the damage that the human race has inflicted on the planet. Over-fishing, industrialisation and the improper disposal of plastics are just some of the factors addressed. Attenborough then explains how intrinsically linked the entire natural world is, teaching the reader about food chains, natural selection and evolution; he portrays how the slightest change in an ecosystem can destabilise all life forms existing within it and then threaten the extinction of entire species.

Lastly, Attenborough describes some solutions to how we, as a race, can reduce our impact on the environment. Attenborough explains “The Doughnut Model” – a simple yet definitive set of boundaries that the human race should operate within to allow both humans to live in the comforts that they are used to, as well as reducing our environmental impact to that of an ecologically sustainable level. Attenborough also details how governments and global organisations can play their part by introducing new socio-economic policies to promote sustainable growth and development.

Something I agreed with in this book was…

The need to make important changes now to ensure that biodiversity is preserved.

Something I disagreed with in this book was…

The nature of this book being that of Attenborough’s personal experiences combined with well-established facts makes it very difficult to disagree with anything in this book.

Something I learnt from reading this book that I didn't know about this subject before was…

The “Happy Planet Index” which is beginning to be used as an alternative index to GDP for countries to measure their yearly growth against their environmental impact.