The naturalist said climate change needs to return to the top of the agenda and said Greta Thunberg’s critics are “uninformed”.
Sir David Attenborough says the coronavirus pandemic has “swept” climate change from the front pages – but warned the clock is still ticking to tackle the crisis.
The broadcaster and naturalist, 94, told the first episode of the So Hot Right Now podcast: “The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about.
“And so what are the papers full of? The virus. Quite right, that’s what I want to know about, too.
“But we have to make sure that this issue, which was coming to the boil with the next COP meeting in Glasgow, has suddenly been swept off the front pages.
“And we’ve got to get it back there.”
The COP26 international climate talks were due to take place in Glasgow this November but have been postponed due to the pandemic.
Asked whether he saw a solution to the lack of focus on climate change awareness, Sir David said: “No, if I knew that I would be a dictator but I’m not.
“I don’t know – we, you and me and lots of others like us have got to keep on going on about it but the clock is ticking.
“The danger of the Arctic and the Antarctic warming is becoming greater day by day.”
Sir David said he hopes the pandemic makes nations realise they have to work together, but suggested it would be a first.
“What the result of coronavirus is going to be I don’t know,” he told journalist Lucy Siegle and film-maker Tom Mustill, who host the podcast.
“But I’m beginning to get a feeling that for the first time the nations of the world are beginning to see that survival depends on co-operation.
“If that happens, that’s going to be a first in human history.”
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Sir David, a great supporter of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, said she was “remarkable” for energising young people and for following the science.
He said: “I think she’s very remarkable. And what is more she is, with all that power, she is nonetheless extremely modest.
“She is extremely well informed. But she’s also very modest. And she keeps saying: Look, the only guide has to be the science, we must follow what the science says.”
The naturalist said Ms Thunberg’s critics were not “particularly well informed” which is why they act “outraged”.
“Yes, well that’s the way it is. That’s the way life is, that’s the way society is,” he said.
“And in fact if you aren’t particularly well informed about the natural world, and the minute you find that you can’t get to your work to do what you want to do, or what you need to do to earn a living, because somebody has stopped you because they are talking about an issue you don’t know about, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there will be some people as a consequence of that who will act in an outraged way.”
The So Hot Right Now podcast will be available on all podcast platforms from Tuesday.
Singer Ellie Goulding, UN climate negotiator Christiana Figueres and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson will also feature in the series.