David Attenborough On Climate: ‘The Most Powerful Nation In The World Denies What The Rest Of Us Can See Very Clearly’

David Attenborough, the famous British naturalist and filmmaker, is worried about what it will take for us to collectively wake up about the threat of climate change: “Disaster.”

“It’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? Even disaster doesn’t do it. There have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes and floods, yet still people deny and say ‘oh, it has nothing to do with climate change.’ It visibly has got [something] to do with climate change.”

Speaking to the Guardian about the need to address climate change, Attenborough expressed his worries about the lack of urgency in the United States.

“[It] does worry me that most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don’t know what you do about that. It’s easier to deny….The situation is worse than we thought [in the Arctic]. The processes of melting are more volatile than we thought. More complicated. The ice cap is really melting faster than we thought.”

Watch the interview below. You can read more from the full interview at the Guardian.

16 Responses to David Attenborough On Climate: ‘The Most Powerful Nation In The World Denies What The Rest Of Us Can See Very Clearly’

  1. Sasparilla says:

    I have immense respect for Mr. Attenborough, but he has the picture wrong here. It’s not the general U.S. population / people that needs converting to see the light on climate change – they already believe climate change is happening and think the U.S. should move forward with action with more than 2/3rds majority of the population for a decade or more (larger numbers now, close to 3/4 population).

    Its the absolutely corrupted U.S. Federal Political system in Washington – where the fossil fuel interests (Oil, Coal, Koch’s etc.) that don’t want action on climate change have effectively been able to keep the entire world from moving forward on climate change action by the shear control of the system with their money, power and avarice here in the United States.

    When longer term, persistent actual disasters occur (true food shortages due to crop failures for example.) that provide persistent widespread hardship to the U.S. population and the general populace becomes enraged, then they will force politicians in Washington to do something (overcoming the forces actively fighting action on climate change), although I’m sure the fossil fuel interests will still be trying to hold things back at that point. JMHO…

  2. Robert Marston says:

    A few oil company funded quacks have managed to confuse the issue just enough to poison the politics. If they continue to succeed, they will probably end up being the most hated and criminal group in world history.

  3. Bill Wilson says:

    I agree

  4. mark E says:

    It will take not just expensive food but empty spots on shelves;

  5. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Attenborough is on thin ice! He cannot come out in public on this topic and not address that the series he hosted, BBC/Discovery’s “Frozen Planet”, purposefully and consciously made a high profile internationally seen piece on arctic melting that left out the human cause — passing up a huge educational opportunity and perhaps adding to the public’s confusion. He wasn’t the producer/editor to make the call, but he was the front guy. He must address this if he is to start complaining about American attitudes!

  6. I posted this on a ‘mainstream’ comment thread about the approaching ‘perfect storm’ and, the article, AMAZINGLY, did mention climate change!
    “It becomes clear after working in the climate change arena for some time that the disease of modern humankind comes down to this: ARROGANCE. We believe we are somehow ‘separate and above’ the rest of nature and natural systems. This arrogance has, perversely resulted in a widespread discounting and denigration of modern science. The science Academies and scientists have been QUITE CLEAR about climate change for some time. Global temps are rising. Ice Sheets are losing volume. Arctic ice is dramatically losing volume. Antarctic SEA ice (NOT land ice) is, for now, gaining volume and this is in line with a warming planet (though it has, of course, been seized upon by ignorant denialists), Sea levels are rising, storms are gaining in intensity, drought is worsening…EVERY indicator points the same way. We are in trouble and it is just beginning. “Chicken Little! The sky is falling!” you see on almost every climate thread.” It is simply arrogance..and the fear and false bravado that goes with it.”

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    You are correct, Christopher. Attenborough dogged it on Frozen Planet. His monologue went something like this: “Is climate change good or bad for people? It depends on who you talk to”.

    This was a tawdry abdication, and “Sir” David lost all credibility on the subject.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    I don’t like Attenborough (see comment below), but he’s actually right about American ignorance, though he did nothing to correct it in the Planet series. About 40% of the US population is either unconcerned or unaware of climate change. That’s enought to provide cover for all of the crooks in Washington, and in our media.

    Climate denial is practically nonexistent everywhere else. The deniers actually have done a good job, in a malevolent kind of way.

  9. Lori says:

    But David, that storm may bring snow to Virginia in October, so obviously global warming is a hoax. :-)

    I am, of course, kidding, but my point here is why can’t we simply all dismiss the deniers as idiots? Why do they get any press or attention whatsoever? There is no validity to their “point of view.” Can I say climate is managed by a giant invisible bunny in the sky and expect anyone to take me seriously? Why would anyone waste time trying to argue with me, just write me off as a moron please! I think it is time for a zero tolerance policy here. It might catch on. Make it as shameful and socially unacceptable as smoking while pregnant. Sure, a few people will continue to do it no matter what, but everyone will know they are idiots.

  10. Artful Dodger says:

    Yes. Everywhere except Australia, Great Britain, or Canada. Every place with a right wing corporate Media.

    Sure it’s chicken-and-egg, but to say it exists only in the USA is to underestimate the size of the problem.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The difference is in general activities. Compared to the USA, more people in Europe particularly, and Australia have taken to feet, bicycles, very small cars, growing vegies, and limiting water & electricty use. In Europe, every light seems to have a sensor and comes on only when there is someone in the room, ME

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s the BBC talking, and it is a totally morally compromised and corrupt organisation, in my opinion. It serves power, slavishly. Attenborough has spoken the scientific truth, outside the BBC shackles, for quite some time. He’s only one man.

  13. Benthicooze says:

    “Truthiness” in American society has been promoted to a greater extent than critical thinking skills by the incessant bombardment of media ads. Lack of a national science curriculum has allowed state and local school boards to pick and choose what science to teach. Overcrowded classrooms have had little or no time allotted to teach science in elementary grades where high stakes tests in the three r’s are given the first priority. Secondary schools have traditionally provided little time for students to engage in doing science. Thus we have a public that is ill equipped to evaluate the multitude of claims that they face.

  14. Damn, Lori- that is a refreshing take and one I have been gravitating towards myself. We have ALL of the evidence on our side and denialists are engaging in, at best, rank ignorance and, at worst, crimes against humanity. Perhaps if they were ridiculed openly they would attack back (of course they would) and then we could ‘hit them’ with the facts. And, along these lines, I feel it is high time that denialists are called out for being unpatriotic- over and over again until it ‘sticks’.

  15. Kaj Embren says:

    Better late then never is maybe the comment when I read Attenborough. So many of his fantastic production of nature – but mostly missing a piece of humans and climate change relation. The fossil fuel dependency in the US is one of the problem but new threats we will see around the corner – The Arctic and Greenlands ice melting – Read more about this at – More then a drop of water….

  16. Bernard J. says:

    David Attenborough is not new to commenting on the trashing of the planet. His productions on this subject include:

    “State of the Planet” (2000)
    “The Truth about Climate Change” (2006)
    “Can We Save Planet Earth?” (2006)
    “How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?” (2009)

    These are in addition to his prodigious and extraordinary productions on the natural history of the planet which is, after all, his day job. I’d say that Attenborough has more than said his piece on the matter, especially as this is not what he set out to do when he commenced his career.

    Those late to the fray and largely deaf to the long-repeated messages from Attenborough, Suzuki, and the scientists whom they rely on for their information are the Western politicians and their somnambulent public.

    It’s rich for them (or anyone else) to claim that they weren’t told.