David Attenborough turns 90: Naturalist issues stark climate change warning

'Humanity is facing a very big, slow, long, drawn-out threat'

Heather Saul
Thursday 05 May 2016 12:41

Over a celebrated career spanning six decades, Sir David Attenborough has issued warning after warning about the fate of humanity should it continue on its current path. While the gravity of his messages has been undeniable, few have actually had an effect on policy as a result.

Speaking at the launch of his Natural Curiosities series at London Zoo in January 2015, Sir David addressed politicians directly. The veteran broadcaster spoke about the fate of humanity and outlined what he believes to be the biggest threat to human existence: climate change and political apathy towards it.

When asked by the Independent if the world should be more concerned by our deteriorating environment than we are about the threat of terror attacks, his answer was simple: “Yes”.

“The nature of human beings is that they’d far rather face the disaster that is happening tonight than the one that is happening tomorrow,” he said.

“Climate change will affect the whole of humanity, while terrorist attacks will only affect a small section of humanity. Of course, you wouldn’t say that if you were related to someone who had been beheaded or blown up or murdered. But humanity is facing a very big, slow, long, drawn-out threat, and that is to do with the way the weather is changing and the size of the population.”

Sir David reiterated his warning during an interview with the Associated Press to mark his 90th birthday on Sunday, when he explained the most critical problems facing the natural world today. Top of his list was rising temperatures caused by climate change - “a very, very serious worry indeed”.

“Children around the world today are going to inherit a very different world from the one I inherited — one which is much more crowded and one which has more severe problems than anybody could have supposed, certainly when I was a child,” he said.

“I believe that if we find ways of generating and storing power from renewable resources, we will make the problem with oil and coal and other carbon fuels disappear because, economically, we will wish to use these other methods. And if we do that, a huge step will have been taken toward solving the problems of the Earth.”

It remains to be seen whether politicians and world leaders will ever heed his advice.

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