David Attenborough takes aim at Trump and warns climate change will cause ‘great social unrest’

‘We cannot be radical enough in dealing with these issues’

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 09 July 2019 20:35 BST
David Attenborough says he is 'sorry' that there are people in power in USA and Australia who still deny climate change

Sir David Attenborough has taken aim at Donald Trump over climate change with a warning global warming will cause “great social unrest” over the next 20 years.

The natural historian made the comments on Tuesday during an appearance before the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to discuss the environmental crisis.

Sir David was asked what his response would be to climate change deniers.

He said that those who voice “criticism” and “disbelief” about climate change should be heard, but expressed dismay over individuals in positions of authority who do not believe that the issue is a matter of urgent concern.

Sir David said he was “sorry that there are people in power internationally” who are not strong advocates for tackling the environmental crisis, “notably, of course, the United States, but also in Australia, which is extraordinary actually because Australia is already having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change”.

He added: “Both Australia and America – those voices are clearly heard. And one hopes that the electorate will respond to those.”

The broadcaster also spoke about Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement on climate change.

In accordance with Article 28 of the deal, the earliest point at which the US can withdraw from it is November 2020.

Sir David told the committee it would be a “very sad day” if the US successfully withdrew from the agreement.

The broadcaster emphasised the importance of tackling climate change issues as a matter of urgency, stating: “We cannot be radical enough in dealing with these issues.

“The question is what is practically possible. How we can take the electorate with us in dealing with these things.”

He said over the coming decades, “great social unrest” caused by climate change will affect “what we eat and how we live”.

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The natural historian compared public attitudes towards climate change to past perceptions on slavery, stating: “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.”

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