Sir David Attenborough, the television wildlife presenter, has warned that people in towns and cities are putting the planet at risk because they are losing touch with the “realities of the natural world”.
By Andy Bloxham
7:27AM GMT 01 Dec 2011
The broadcaster said urbanisation over the last 60 years meant that too many people had little or no contact with the natural world.
In an interview with Eureka magazine, published by The Times, he said: “We have a huge moral responsibility towards the rest of the planet.
“A hundred years ago people certainly had that, they were aware of the seasons and aware of what they were doing to the land and animals around them.”
Sir David, whose Frozen Planet series ends on the BBC next week, said UN figures showed that due to rapid urbanisation since the 1950s, more than 50% of the world’s population now live in towns and cities.
“So over 50% is to some degree out of touch with the natural world and don’t even see an animal from one day to the next unless it’s a rat or a pigeon,” he added.
“That means that people are getting out of touch with the realities of the natural world, of which we are in fact a part.”
The final episode of the seven-part series Frozen Planet sees Sir David speaking more freely than in previous episodes about the threat mankind poses to the planet.
He claims that the Arctic could be emptied of ice in summer by 2020 and polar bears are already dying due to a lack of ice.
The BBC dropped the “climate change” episode from its main package when selling the series abroad to make it more appealing to international viewers, such as those in the United States, where the public is more sceptical about global warming.
Instead, it was either offered as an optional extra or, in the case of the US, elements from it were incorporated into the other episodes.
Sir David has become involved in a public war of words with Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor.
Writing in the Radio Times, Lord Lawson accused Sir David of “sensationalism” and said certain populations of polar bears are rising and that sea ice cover is in fact increasing in Antarctica.
Sir David’s latest comments came ahead of this week’s international climate negotiations in South Africa.
The final episode of Frozen Planet will be broadcast on BBC One on December 7.