President Barack Obama is a major fan of Sir David Attenborough, the celebrated British naturalist and TV host who has created and narrated numerous science and nature documentaries for the BBC.
According to The Guardian, Obama invited Attenborough to the White House in May to celebrate Attenborough’s 89th birthday. While there, the two taped an interview, in which Obama turned the tables and interviewed Attenborough, telling him that he grew up watching Attenborough’s programs.
“I’ve been a huge admirer of your work for a very long time,” Obama told Attenborough. “You’ve been a great educator as well as a great naturalist.”
The two discussed climate change, and Obama lamented what he sees as slow progress toward combating the issue.
“We’re not moving as fast as we need to, and part of what I know from watching your programs, and all the great work you’ve done, is that these ecosystems are all interconnected,” Obama said. “If just one country is doing the right thing, but other countries are not, then we’re not going to solve the problem. We’re going to have to have a global solution to this.”
Obama asked Attenborough what he thinks needs to be done in the fight against climate change.
“If we find ways of generating and storing power from renewable resources, we will make the problem with oil and coal disappear because economically, we’ll wish to use these other methods,” Attenborough said. “If we do that, a huge step will be taken in solving the problems of the Earth. I think what’s required is an understanding and a gut feeling that the natural world is part of your inheritance. This is the only planet we’ve got and we’ve got to protect it. And people do feel that, deeply and instinctively, it is after all where you go in moments of celebration and in moments of grief.”
Obama also discussed during the interview how growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia gave him a greater appreciation of the environment.
Attenborough, a Cambridge-educated naturalist, has been creating and hosting science and nature-related programming since 1954. His shows have won numerous awards, and he has become a vocal environmentalist. He is known for his distinctive voice as a narrator.
The Guardian reported that despite his long career, Attenborough had never visited the White House, and he said Obama’s invitation was “a considerable surprise.” The interview will air simultaneously on BBC 1 in the United Kingdom and BBC America in the United States on Sunday.
This is not the first time Obama has turned the tables on a notable television figure he admires. In March, he interviewed David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” about criminal justice reform, and told Simon that “The Wire” is his favorite TV show.
Watch a clip of Obama’s interview with Attenborough above.
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