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'The Garden of Eden is no more': David Attenborough issues stark climate warning at Davos

“We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand,” Attenborough told his audience.

Switzerland Davos Forum David Attenborough speaking at the World Economic Forum yesterday. Source: Markus Schreiber/PA Images

BRITISH NATURALIST DAVID Attenborough has issued a fresh appeal to the world’s political and business leaders to take the threat of climate change seriously and to act. 

Speaking at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the 92-year-old naturalist told leaders that global business and international cooperation had only been possible for thousands of years due to the predictable patterns of the natural world. 

“Now, in the space of one human lifetime – indeed in the space of my lifetime – all that has changed.”

“The Holocene has ended,” said Attenborough, referring to the current period of geologic time. “The Garden of Eden is no more.”

The famed naturalist and broadcaster told his audience at the WEF that while it was “tempting” to ignore evidence of global warming and its effects there is also “a vast potential” for what we might do.

We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand.

‘We need a plan’

Attenborough’s speech yesterday echoed similar comments he made on climate change in December at the opening of the UN climate conference in Poland where he warned of a “disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years”.

The naturalist’s recent comments come after stalled progress in tackling climate change and a lack of cooperation on the part of world leaders – most notable US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2017. 

This year’s WEF in Davos has been overshadowed by increasing instability and an upsurge in populism.

Leaders from the United States, France, Britain and Zimbabwe will not attend the Swiss ski resort in order to put out political fires on home soil, stoked by popular anger against the elite.

The International Monetary Fund has warned in an update to its global economic forecasts that US-China trade confrontations, Brexit as well as other sources of uncertainty were threatening to effect global growth even further than the IMF’s already pessimistic outlook, which was published three months ago.

In his speech at the start of yesterday’s forum, Attenborough said that while humans are expert problem solvers, “we haven’t yet applied ourselves to this problem with the focus that it requires”.

A sustainable planet Earth is possible, Attenborough said, but “to do that, we need a plan”.

“What we do now and in the next few years will profoundly affect the next few thousand years.”

With reporting from ©AFP 2019 

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