David Attenborough and Prince William take world leaders to task on environment

(The Guardian, 22 Jan 2019) Davos 2019: broadcaster tells prince that humans have power to exterminate whole ecosystems ‘without even noticing’.

Sir David Attenborough has warned that humankind has the power to exterminate whole ecosystems “without even noticing”, and urged world leaders to treat the natural world with respect, during an interview with Prince William in Davos.

Prince William also took world leaders to task at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, asking Attenborough why those in key positions have “taken so long” to address climate change.

Attenborough said the connection between the natural world and urban societies had been “remote and widening” since the industrial revolution, meaning humans do not realise the effect their actions have on the global ecosystem. The 92-year-old broadcaster added that it was “difficult to overstate” the urgency of the environmental crisis.

“We’re now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, the mechanisms we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening, that we can actually exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it. We have to now be really aware of the dangers of what we’re doing, and we already know that of course the plastic problem in the seas is wreaking appalling damage upon marine life, the extent of which we don’t yet fully know.”

He stressed that the natural world “is not just a matter of beauty, interest and wonder” but a coherent ecosystem on which we depend for “every breath we take, every mouthful of food we take.” A healthy planet, Attenborough added, is an essential part of human life.

“If we don’t recognise the kind of connections I’ve been describing, then the whole planet comes in hazard, and we are destroying the natural world and with it ourselves.”

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The Guardian, 22 Jan 2019: David Attenborough and Prince William take world leaders to task on environment