Natural historian, English broadcaster and 93-year-old national treasurehas spoken. Whether you like his chosen topic of or not, the naturalist has an effortless and coercive way with words.
Speaking to a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London on Tuesday morning, local time, Attenborough gave evidence on the radical action required to tackle the climate crisis.
“We cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment,” he said, the full talk detailed by The Guardian. “The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things?”
The UK has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that target, according to Attenborough, “is not the way of focusing on the problem.”
Attenborough did acknowledge the lively efforts young people had put in to “recognising that their world is the future.”
“The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear,” he said. “And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future.”
Attenborough compared our attitudes toward climate change with the transformation of slavery.
“There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed.”
In the next 30 years, as climate change further impacts the planet, it’s “going to cause social unrest, and great changes in the way that we live, and what we eat,” Attenborough said.
Attenborough called out hiking prices of “extraordinarily cheap” airline tickets as being one of the consequences of climate change’s impact.
He added, “If the world climate change goes on as it is we are going to be facing huge problems with immigration. Large parts of Africa will become even less inhabitable than they are now and there is going to be major upsets in the balance between our national boundaries.”
Attenborough also called out Australia and the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef.
“I will never forget diving on the [Great Barrier] reef about 10 years ago and suddenly seeing that instead of this multitude of wonderful forms of life, that it was stark white, it had bleached white because of the rising temperatures and the increasing acidity of the sea.”
Despite the climate issues the world faces, Attenborough remains hopeful.
“People are understanding that to chuck plastic into the ocean is an insult… And for some reason or other young people understand that.
“That’s a source of great hope to me.”