It was an invitation that Sir David Attenborough called a "considerable surprise."

The famed naturalist, on the eve of his 89th birthday this past May, was asked to come to the White House to visit with Barack Obama and discuss the natural world. Turns out the president is a huge fan of Attenborough, having grown up watching the dozens of groundbreaking nature documentaries he's narrated over the years.

"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.

In a special to be aired tonight on the BBC, Obama and Attenborough discuss conservation, climate change and the need for global solutions to solve some of our worst environmental issues. They also touch upon future generations, placing hope in young people to move beyond the divisive politics that have mired the progress of sustainable solutions.

"The young people, they care," Attenborough told Obama. "They know that this is the world they're going to grow up in, that they're going to spend the rest of their lives in. But I think it's more idealistic than that, they actually believe that humanity, the human species, has no right to destroy and to spoil. They actually feel that very powerfully."

President Obama and David AttenboroughPresident Obama praised Attenborough for being both a 'great educator as well as a great naturalist.' (Photo: White House/BBC)

When asked how the world might solve the climate crisis, Attenborough named the continued push for renewable energy sources as a priority.

"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.

According to Variety, the Obama-Attenborough interview aired simultaneously on BBC America and BBC One broadcast in the U.K. on June 28. An extended version aired on BBC America and is available on the cable station’s website.

Check out a preview courtesy of the White House below.

Related on MNN:

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Barack Obama and David Attenborough discuss the natural world
The president invited the famed naturalist to the White House to celebrate his 89th birthday.