Sir David Attenborough has reacted to his record-breaking Instagram following, saying that it gives him “great hope” that the younger generation are absorbed by the climate crisis.
The 94-year-old broadcaster became the latest celebrity to join Instagram last week and quickly amassed a million followers within just four hours and 44 minutes – beating Jennifer Aniston’s record in October 2019 by 32 minutes.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Attenborough commented on his new social media presence and his current 4.5 million followers, saying: “That is the most important hope.”
“It’s their world and it’s their tomorrow. I won’t be there, they will be. It’s theirs and if they aren’t persuaded that it’s important, we’re wasting out time.
“I feel privileged that they should listen to what an old bloke like me is talking about,” he added.
Attenborough also advised against using aggressive tactics to communicate the climate message, which Extinction Rebellion activists have been accused of using.
“In getting it [the law] changed you have to be careful that you don’t break the law, I think,” he said. “I also think that we have to treat the people we share our community with, with respect. Disturbing their lives to such an extent that innocent people can’t get about their own business is a serious thing to do and could disenchant an awful lot of people from the action that we’re talking about.”
“Of course I agree with their message. It’s simply a question of what is politic and sensible.”
The award-winning natural historian’s first post, in which he explains that he’ll be using Instagram to “explain what the [environmental] problems are and how we can deal with them”, has been viewed by over 16 million users over the last three days.
Attenborough’s account is run by producers who worked with the broadcaster on A Life On Our Planet, an eight-part docuseries arriving on Netflix in October, exploring humans’ impact on the environment and the animals that are at risk of extinction.
The series was originally due to make a theatrical debut in April but due to the ongoing pandemic, its cinematic release was pushed back to September, with the series landing on Netflix on Sunday 4th October.
Produced by the World Wide Fund for Nature and Silverback Films, the documentary follows Attenborough as he reflects on his successful naturalist career and “the devastating changes” to the environment he has seen over the past 90 years.
Earlier this month, Attenborough received an Emmy for his work on BBC America documentary Seven Worlds, One Planet, collecting his third consecutive award for Outstanding Narration.