In Brief

David Attenborough warns of ‘crisis moment’

Experts reveal 2019 was the second hottest on record for the planet’s surface

David Attenborough has warned that “the moment of crisis has come” in efforts to tackle climate change, as it was revealed that 2019 was the second hottest on record for the planet’s surface.

The broadcaster told the BBC that “we have been putting things off for year after year”, adding: “As I speak, south east Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the Earth are increasing.”

He also argued that it was “palpable nonsense” for some politicians and commentators to suggest that the Australian fires were nothing to do with the world becoming warmer.

Speaking of efforts to address this, he said: “We have to realise that this is not playing games. This is not just having a nice little debate, arguments and then coming away with a compromise.

“This is an urgent problem that has to be solved and, what’s more, we know how to do it - that’s the paradoxical thing, that we’re refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.”

Attenborough’s comments came in a BBC News interview to launch a year of special coverage on the subject of climate change, Our Planet Matters.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazineStart your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

His warning comes as scientists say the past five years and the past decade were also the hottest in 150 years. Speaking to The Guardian, they describe the news as “dire”.

“The last decade was easily the warmest decade in the record and is the first decade more than 1C above late 19th-century temperatures,” said Gavin Schmidt, of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “What is important is the totality of evidence from multiple independent data sets that the Earth is warming, that human activity is driving it and the impacts are clearly being felt.”

The effect of this will continue, says World Meteorological Organisation secretary general Petteri Taalas.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.

Last month, the United Nations warned of a global crisis as scientists said tipping points are “dangerously close”.

Recommended

‘Attenborough Effect’: the growth in sustainable investing
David Attenborough’s new show, A Life on Our Planet, is streaming on Netflix
In Brief

‘Attenborough Effect’: the growth in sustainable investing

CBI: climate action can spur UK economic recovery
A rainbow illuminates the sky above a wind farm near Sheffield
In Depth

CBI: climate action can spur UK economic recovery

Rare earths, Jordan and dishonour
Greenland
Podcast

Rare earths, Jordan and dishonour

Obituary: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
The Queen and Prince Philip pictured in 1947
In Focus

Obituary: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Popular articles

15 most expensive English towns outside of London
Virginia Water, Surrey
In Depth

15 most expensive English towns outside of London

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Bryan Cranston stars in Your Honor (Showtime)
In Review

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 10 April 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 10 April 2021