New Attenborough narrated film shows how lockdown has affected wildlife

April 17, 2021
The Year Earth Changed - film poster with penguins
Courtesy of Apple TV
By Eko Diena in 

I don't think that our admiration for David Attenborough at EKO Diena can be overstated, or could be fail to be noticed by any regular readers. So, whenever there is a new project featuring the beloved broadcaster and environmentalist we get a little bit excited.

Today, a week ahead of Earth Day, he takes to the screen again as the voice of a fascinating new documentary about the effects of a year of human lockdown on the natural world.

'The Year Earth Changed' features exclusive footage from around the world after a year unlike anything in recent times. It takes a fresh view of the global lockdown and instead of showing the human frustration and tragedy, instead shows some of the uplifting stories of the natural world that have come out of it.

Those include whales communicating in new ways because they can actually hear each other, and penguins roaming the streets in South Africa. While we haven't been able to interact with each other in the way we are used to, people all over the world have had the chance to engage with nature like never before.

The documentary also shows how changes in human behavior, like reducing cruise ship traffic, closing beaches a few days a year, and identifying more harmonious ways for humans and wildlife to coexist, could have a profound impact on nature. This film is a love letter to planet Earth, highlighting the ways nature bouncing back can give us hope for the future. 

Asked by BBC Science Editor David Shukman what message he hoped that people would take away from the film, Attenborough replied: "That human beings, even with the best will in the world, cannot but restrict the natural world. That's what we're doing, we're pushing it aside, even the most considerate of us. That's almost inevitable to some degree but let us realise that we are intruders, that we are latecomers, and that the natural world actually by-and-large would do much better if we weren't there at all."

In the same interview, he asserted that at the COPP climate conference this year nations have to come together and agree that big changes have to be made and that people will need to give things up. Attenborough then insisted that he receives far more praise than he should, with the plaudits for the programs he narrates being deserved far more by the natural world itself and the camera-people who capture it.

Although he has publicly declared himself to be "a BBC man" in the past, over the last few years David has made shows for Netflix, as well as briefly embracing Instagram. While it was produced by the BBC Natural History Unit, this new film was made for and will be released on Apple TV. If you happen to have that service then you can find the show to stream right now, if not then let's hope that it's available somewhere else sometime soon.

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