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David Attenborough Finds ‘Comfort’ in Nature

But life will be tougher for our children

David Attenborough’s new TV series is “The Frozen Planet.” Photo by Vanessa Berlowitz for the BBC

Sir David Attenborough, whose TV programs about animals and nature are still the gold standard, says that he finds deep comfort in being absorbed in the world of nature.

Sir David, whose wife of almost 50 years, Jane, died of a brain hemorrhage 14 years ago, said that immersing himself in the natural world helped him cope with grief. Though he had spent decades exploring the worlds of plants and animals for his many TV series, he said he only realized how much it comforted him after receiving letters from viewers saying that watching nature shows had helped them, too, cope with the loss of a loved one.

“In moments of grief, deep grief,” he told interviewers, “the only consolation you can find is in the natural world. People write to me and tell me this. People of great distinction have written and said, ‘When so-and-so died, the only thing that made life tolerable was to watch programs on plants and animals.’”

Sir David’s next TV series, The Frozen Planet, begins on BBC TV in Europe next week, and will be seen in the United States in a few months’ time.

Climate change is real

Sir David also warned that life will get tougher for future generations as they battle the effects of global warming.

He said he has “no doubt” that global warming “is man-made”, and that it only suits climate change skeptics to “be that way” because it makes their own life easier.

Asked how he sees the future of the planet, he said, “I’m on the pessimistic side. I don’t think there’s any question that things are going to get worse.”

He sees his own work in producing series like The Frozen Planet as a way to help protect the Earth, but also as way to cope with the loss of his wife and the knowledge of his own mortality.

“I don’t fear death,” he said. “But I fear suffering, of course. Who wouldn’t?”

He said that work, rather than “filling in time, like playing golf,” gives him a reason to get up at four o’clock in the morning. “I am blissfully blessed that people want me to do something, so why should I say no?”

What do you say? Have you found comfort in nature after the loss of a loved one? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.