Sir David Attenborough speaking at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, warned that human activity has taken the world into a new era, threatening to undermine civilization. He warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, as he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to act against climate change before the damage is irreparable.
“I am quite literally from another age,” The naturalist told an audience of powerful delegates fo all over the world. “I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 [year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations.” That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the “globally connected species we are today”.
“The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans,” he declared.
In a dire warning to the world leaders and business executives attending the WEF, Attenborough warned that the only conditions that humans have known are changing fast.
“We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand.”
A survey conducted before the WEF found that environmental threats are now the biggest danger to the global economy, and concern is mounting that co-operation between countries on the issue is breaking down.
The 92-year old naturalist admitted that even he has been surprised by the speed of the damage caused to the environment during his career making TV programmes showing life
Humans can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy and sustainable fish stocks, but only if decisive action is taken now. He said.
“What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years,” he added.
Speaking to journalists after his speech, Attenborough warned that economic models needed to change. “Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way.”
He is also hopeful that he can change minds during his trip to Davos, pointing out that some delegates have more power than a nation state. “The enormity of the problem has only just dawned on quite a lot of people… Unless we sort ourselves out in the next decade or so we are dooming our children and our grandchildren to an appalling future.”