Australia

David Attenborough takes aim at Australia for lack of climate action

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Legendary natural historian, David Attenborough, has outlined a dire future for the world if climate change is not addressed immediately.

Legendary natural historian David Attenborough has slammed Australia for a lack of action on climate change, as he issued a stark warning to British politicians that mass migration and social unrest would occur if the issue is not addressed immediately.

The 93-year-old told members of the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee that large areas of Africa would become "even less inhabitable" than they are now if "radical" climate action is not taken.

These actions, he said, would need to include lifestyle changes including raising the price of "extraordinarily cheap" airline tickets. 

David Attenborough appearing as a witness during the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London.
David Attenborough appearing as a witness during the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London.
UK Parliament

"We cannot be radical enough with dealing with these issues," he told politicians on Wednesday.

"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."

Mr Attenborough, who has been making nature documentaries for almost 70 years, named Australia in his damning speech as one of the countries worst affected by climate change.

"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," he said of his return since first diving there in the 1950s.

And in response to a question about climate change sceptics, he said the "voice of disbelief" should not be stamped out but that he hoped leaders in Australia and the US would come on board.

"Australia is already facing, having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change," he said.

"But both Australia and America those voices are clearly heard."

Known for his nature documentaries, Mr Attenborough said he was hopeful that the world was on the cusp of great social change due to young people speaking out about the climate crisis, comparing the forthcoming attitude shift to how views changed regarding 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," he said.

"I suspect that we are right now at the beginning of a big change. Young people, in particular, are the stimulus that’s bringing it about."

Speaking about his shift from entertainer to climate advocate, Mr Attenborough said he didn't have a choice. 

"If you become aware of what is happening, you don't have any alternative," he said.

"I feel an obligation. The only way you can get up in the morning is to believe that, actually, we can do something about it. And I suppose I think we can."

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