David Attenborough Says He Is Sorry the U.S. And Australia Have Climate Change Deniers in Power: 'One Hopes That the Electorate Will Respond'

Renowned British broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has said it is concerning that there are climate change deniers in positions of power in countries like the United States and Australia.

Attenborough was speaking in front of the U.K. Parliament's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to discuss a range of issues related to climate change, including the ecological impact of global warming and the benefits of a transition to a low-carbon economy.

"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, news.com.au reported.

"Both Australia and America—those voices are clearly heard—and one hopes that the electorate will actually respond to those," he said.

Despite this, Attenborough says the that not all criticism of climate change science should be "stamped on," despite the almost unanimous consensus among researchers that human activities are driving global warming.

"It's very, very important that voices of dissent should have a place where they're heard and the arguments between the two sides can be worked out in public, and compared and analyzed in public, that's very important," he said.

Attenborough talked about his own personal experience of the effects of climate change, comparing his first encounter with the Great Barrier Reef to a more recent dive there.

"I will never forget diving on the reef about 10 years ago and suddenly seeing that 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," he said, according to The Guardian. "If you wipe that out you wipe out whole areas of the ocean."

Attenborough highlighted the "crucial" role that reefs play in the ecosystem, noting that 30 to 40 percent of all oceanic fish depend on this coral at some point in their lives. Furthermore, he bemoaned the impact that humans were having on these integral ecosystems.

When he was asked about how to fight climate change, Attenborough responded by saying that "we cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment.

"The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things? Dealing with these things means we've got to change our lifestyle," he said.

Despite the gloomy outlook, Attenborough said that he was encouraged by the action of young people around the world who are publicly fighting for climate justice.

"The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear," he said. "And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future."

"I'm OK, and all of us here are OK, because we don't face the problems that are coming. But the problems in the next 30 years are really major problems that are going to cause social unrest, and great changes in the way that we live, and what we eat. It's going to happen," he said.

David Attenborough
Broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough takes part in a discussion on nature and the economy during the World Bank Spring Meetings at International Monetary Fund Headquarters in Washington, D.C., April 11, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images