Attenborough: Renewable energy sources are key to saving Earth

Attenborough says humanity must recognise its dependence on Nature
Sir David Attenborough says world leaders have the power to save the planet


VETERAN broadcaster Sir David Attenborough tells a new podcast series The Glass Bead Game that global leaders have the power and resources to resolve the world energy crisis if they possess the will to act.

Wildlife expert, Attenborough, whose 1979 BBC series Life On Earth is said to have been watched by 500 million people, is one of the first contributors to the 12-part series, which is being put together by the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

Award-winning filmmaker Will Hood interviewed the popular figure for a two-part episode, called The Meaning of Climate Change. And Attenborough does not disappoint.

Energy, ecology and economics

In Part One: Indigenous Oil, Hood tackles the issue of the relationship between energy, ecology and economics, with interviewees including members of indigenous communities affected by the environmental conflict over Canada’s oil industry.

Alberta’s oil sands are said to be the third largest crude oil reserve in the world, and are alternatively considered as a “carbon bomb” or a multi-billion dollar lifeline for the Canadian economy, depending on which side of the argument you’re listening to.

Oil industry chiefs and government leaders want more pipelines but activist groups, like Greenpeace, argue that there is no way to transport fossil fuels that does not risk environmental damage, including rising CO2 levels.

A seven-year period of indecision ended in November 2015 when US President Barack Obama rejected a plan for the proposed 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska, which would have carried 800,000 barrels of oil daily. Republicans were furious.

Attenborough on Obama

Attenborough tells Hood that contrary to common public perception, American presidents lack “freedom of action” and that while Obama may be “profoundly convinced” of the threat posed by climate change he is blocked by his political opponents “whenever he wishes to do something which in any way appears to affect the American economy badly”.

“The hope I have for the future, which will solve all these problems, is that we can produce energy from renewable resources cheaper than carbon-based [sources],” he says, adding that such an outcome would solve contentious issues like fracking (hydraulic fracturing), diesel engines etc.

Attenborough lays down a challenge for the US Administration, saying that if Americans were capable of putting a man on the moon in the 1960s, they should be able to find a way to create the technologies required to store and transport energy produced from renewable sources within a decade.

Pulling down economic models

In Part Two: Direct Action, which includes live coverage of the COP21 climate summit in Paris in December 2015, Attenborough warns that “pulling down economic models” to combat climate change is “fairly drastic”.

A better solution is to use the existing economic systems to achieve change by “producing energy that is much cheaper than anything that is based on carbon” sources.

Hopes for Earth

Attenborough’s deep love for Nature, and his understanding of human beings’ relationship with Nature, is summed up perfectly in my personal favourite quote from his conversation with Hood, when he talks of his hope for the planet’s future.

“One hopes that they will also get some understanding of the place in which humanity plays in the eco-system, and how we are totally dependent upon the Natural World for every breath we breathe and every mouthful of food we eat.”

To listen to The Meaning of Climate Change you can visit






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