Veteran broadcaster David Attenborough has expressed his disappointment at the rise of climate science denial in the US and Australia and called on voters to respond.
Noting the prevalence of climate science denial in certain countries while giving evidence to a committee of MPs in the UK, Attenborough said he was “sorry that there are people in power and internationally, notably the United States, but also in Australia” where “those voices are clearly heard”. He said he hoped the “electorate will actually respond” to public figures that promote climate science denial.
Attenborough also said it would be “a very sad day” if President Donald Trump succeeded in withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement, praising the UN process as an example of international cooperation.
He accused climate science deniers of cherry-picking their data, arguing it “isn’t proof” to find a particular example of where glaciers had grown, rather than shrunk. “It’s just an example,” he said.
“The proof is in the graphs, the proof is in the scientific records, the proof is in when you analyse bubbles from the sea ice and glacier ice to show you what has happened to the climate over the years,” he added.
However, Attenborough also said those that disagree with mainstream climate science should not be totally silenced.
“It is very, very, important that the voices of dissent should have a place where they’re heard and a place where the arguments between the two sides can be worked out in public and deterred and analysed in public. That’s very important,” he said.
“I think that the voice of criticism and the voice of disbelief should not be stamped on”.
Nonetheless, Attenborough praised the global youth movement for being the “stimulus” for changing public understanding of environmental issues. “The idealism of youth is something that should be treasured and respected,” he said.
Attenborough was an unusually popular attraction for what can sometimes be dry parliamentary business, with committee member and Labour MP Vernon Coaker saying the documentary-maker had “drawn the youngest audience we’ve ever had” to the session.