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At 94, Attenborough lands in a vast new world, to help build us a better one.
Written by Malcolm Robertson, founding partner
10 October 2020
A few weeks ago, Sir David Attenborough joined Instagram. Four hours and 44 minutes later, one million people had followed @davidattenborough (a world record) and today, 5.6m people follow a brilliant man who has become, in his twilight years, one of the most compelling advocates for the changes in human behaviour that may arrest what he sees as the ruination of the planet.
While social media is perhaps not the natural habitat of this 94-year old broadcaster, and campaigner, there is something greatly encouraging about Attenborough’s dramatic arrival on Instagram (his first post has been viewed nearly 18 million times) and the power one hopes he is gathering to influence all generations as he promotes his latest documentary, A Life on our Planet, which has been described as an obituary for our world and the most important documentary of the year.
That documentary has been reviewed in Wired and is included here in our weekend reading list. Or you could just go straight to Netflix and judge for yourself. Elsewhere, our list this week is a typically diverse and interesting collection, from the black holes that I do not profess to understand, to poverty, diversity, empathy and a delightful wander along an old drovers’ road in a Scottish highland glen.
I hope you enjoy them, and the weekend too.
1. Walking adventures
Not surprisingly, Patrick Barker’s book, entitled ‘The Unremembered Places: Exploring Scotland’s Wild Histories’, has been nominated for the 2020 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. Having read this piece in The Guardian, I bought the book this week and I consider myself lucky to be able to go to some of those places with relative ease. For those of you not so close, you can follow the author as he walks Jock’s Road, retracing the steps of the generations of drovers who moved cattle to market through some of Scotland’s wildest and most beautiful places.
Read in: The Guardian
2. A life on our planet
Sir David Attenborough’s nature documentaries have for many years provided a thrilling experience for those of us keen to explore the world beyond our most immediate surroundings. But his latest production, A Life on Our Planet, is different; it is Attenborough’s “witness statement” in which he documents the damaging changes to the natural world as a result of human activities. Charting the ways in which we have systematically removed biodiversity and tamed wildlife during his 94 years on the planet, Attenborough isn’t afraid to look into the future and propose solutions through which we become a species in balance with nature once again. As WIRED’s Amit Katwala puts it, this “obituary for the Earth” is essential viewing.
Read in: Wired. Watch on: Netflix
3. What the Earth owes to black holes
Earlier this year, astronomers found the closest known black hole to Earth 1,000 light-years away, which is almost on our doorstep by cosmic measures. Black holes have a reputation as monstrous maws, but truthfully, we benefit from their existence. The collisions of black holes and neutron stars help spread heavier elements, such as gold and platinum. These elements make up our Earth, and our own selves.
Read in: The Conversation
4. 50 years of poverty: has anything changed?
To mark Scotland’s Challenge Poverty Week, we asked Martin Dorchester, chief executive of Includem, to write about his childhood and the experiences that have shaped him and how they influence the work he and his organisation does now. It’s a powerful piece of writing.
Read in: Charlotte St Partners
5. The trouble with the diversity debate
In this thought-provoking piece, David Johnston argues that when it comes to the diversity debate, we’re squabbling over symbols rather than focusing on the substance of inequality. He argues that while companies talk the talk about valuing diversity, they rarely focus on diversity of social background, and in doing so miss out on the many benefits class diversity can bring to us all. When we talk about race, he says, we mustn’t neglect to include class.
Read in: Unherd
And finally: Leveraging empathy
Data from Boston Consulting Group shows that among companies where men are actively involved in improving gender diversity, 96 per cent report progress, compared with 30 per cent where they are not. It’s critical that men are included in gender diversity efforts. In this piece, Naina Bhattacharya writes about how understanding and empathy are highly persuasive tools.
Read in: Financial Times