The David Attenborough Effect
As David Attenborough turned 92 this week, he has been in the news being celebrated for his incredible life. We wanted to discuss one element of that legacy which has been having a colossal effect on society’s views of sustainability and environmentalism within the UK recently.
Since the airing of the recent series of ‘Blue Planet’ on the BBC. There has been a noticeable uplift in community awareness and engagement with plastic reduction and biodiversity protection.
The format was simple, it was an hour-long show divided into two sections. The first 45-minutes showed the beauty of the blue planet with unrivalled production values letting people see inside this hidden world in such detail never seen before – it was engrossing and beautiful. The second part was a 15-minute segment at the end about how the people filmed it, how the crew accomplished the feats and the difficulties that stood between them.
One particular clip that resonated with me was the footage of the mother Whale carrying her dead baby around days after it had passed away. The mother had been unknowingly consuming plastic, which had tainted her bloodstream and poisoned the calf who was feeding on her. Each episode had a moment like this that would grab people’s attention. The final episode was a call to action to protect the ocean and its inhabitants. It was incredibly beautiful, completely distressing and very effective.
This dramatic display shook people from their apathy and got them to engage with the issue. Social media feeds lit up during and after the shows with trending topics like ‘beat plastic pollution’, ‘make a difference’ and ‘climate action’. It was the most watched TV show in the UK in 2017 with 17 million people viewers tuning in to watch it.
While the footage was often tragic, the enduring message has been incredibly positive and uplifting.
Since its airing there has been an unprecedented increase in social activism and discussion around sustainability. Blue planet brought it right to the top of the political agenda. And it is easy to see the correlation with topics trending on social media and the airtimes of his show.
There are those who would disagree, but the facts speak for themselves with The Scottish government banned plastic straws, The BBC is banning all plastic across all sites of their company and other companies are doing the same. Retailing giant Iceland is going plastic free, just like Pizza Express, Wagamama and JD Wetherspoons – just to name a few of the brands included.
At the time of this article being written news broke about a ban on wet wipes in the UK. There has even been a boom in eco-tourism due to the show’s popularity according to the chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents. And there is no question that it is linked to blue planet, many press releases from these companies referencing it directly.
Producers of the show are already making foreign language versions of the show to export to other countries and hopefully have the same effect in other parts of the world.
It is for this incredible show and the input of David Attenborough that sustainability and environmentalism are entering the mainstream. For that alone, he should be remembered as a giant of the field, one who has genuinely ushered in positive change. Luckily Sir David also has a lifetime of incredible achievements to boast.
So, are you in a position within a company that could effect change within your business? Will you be looking at improving your carbon footprint in the spirit of David Attenborough.
Contact us to discuss your environmental strategy and see how you can make a difference today.
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