Sir David Attenborough takes aim at Australia for lack of climate action

Sir David Attenborough has taken aim at powerful figures in Australia who are still denying the very real existence of climate change, stating that it is “extraordinary” considering the country is already dealing with some of the most extreme consequences.

The world’s beloved documentary-maker and natural historian was invited to speak in front of the UK parliament’s British, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee yesterday about his views on climate change.

Sir David Attenborough has singled out Australia as one of the places most significantly contributing to and affected by climate change, in a speech in the UK parliament’s Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

During his speech, Attenborough stated that the most significant examples of climate change that he has witnessed are on the Great Barrier Reef. He first visited the reef in the 1950s and told the committee that the “most vivid memory” of his life was seeing the “multitude of fantastically beautiful forms of animals”, many he’d never seen before.

However, when returning to the reef 10 years ago, he was disappointed and shocked to see how much they had changed, saying that he “will never forget diving on the reef … and suddenly seeing, instead of this multitude of wonderful forms and life, that it was stark white. It had bleached white because of the rising temperatures and the increasing acidity of the sea.”

Attenborough stated that it’s not just the beauty of the reefs that are important, but they are also crucial to the survival of thousands of species of marine life, their importance is because “30 to 40 per cent of all oceanic fish throughout the seas depend upon the coral reefs at some time of their lives,” and coral reefs act as a “nursery” for marine life.

When questioned about claims from climate change deniers that people were over-reacting, he singled out Australia and the US as places where there were still skeptics in positions of power.

“I am sorry that there are people who are in power, and internationally, notably of course: the United States but also in Australia — which is extraordinary because Australia is already facing having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change,” he said. “Both Australia and America — those voices are clearly heard — and one hopes that the electorate will actually respond to those.”

Attenborough stated that he believes authorities “cannot be radical enough in dealing with these issues,” in regard to climate change policy and action. “Dealing with these things means we’ve got to change our lifestyle,” he said

The 93-year-old naturalist explained that most of his faith in bringing the change necessary to save the planet lies with young people and activists,  who are now realising that it is their future that’s at stake. “The most encouraging thing I see is that the electorates of tomorrow are already making their voices very, very clear,” he said.

“I’m OK for the next decade and all of us here are OK because we won’t face the problems that are coming,” he said. “But the problems in another 20-30 years are really major problems that are going to cause great social unrest and great changes in the way that we live, in what we eat and how we live … it’s going to happen.”