Once again Attenborough sounds the climate emergency, but are we listening?

In any case, the reactions on social media are quite divided. “Attenborough is a biologist, not a physicist. What. A. Nonsense”, can be read, but also: “I will miss that man so much when he is gone. Always hope in all movies. But he is dead serious now.”

And that difference does not surprise climate psychologist Gerdien de Vries at all. “Whether you listen depends on whether you see someone as an authority. The people who see it that way, who listen. If you don’t like that, or you don’t believe in climate change at all, then you don’t listen.”

Attenborough’s message in brief:

Attenborough’s age (96) also has an influence. But you can explain that in different ways. An old man who no longer experiences it himself, you might say. “But you can also think the other way around,” says De Vries. “That he wants to share all his experience and is willing to be criticized.”

Who will succeed Attenborough?

Still. Life is finite and you never know how long Attenborough will be with us. Who are the people who could follow in his footsteps? De Vries mentions the names of Greta Thunberg and Leonardo di Caprio. People from the sports world could also take on a role.

Who is David Attenborough?

David Attenborough (96) is a British biologist and media personality best known for writing and presenting nature documentaries. You may know him from Planet Earth, Life on our Planet and Extinction.

Attenborough has been passionate about nature all his life and has made several documentaries about the decline of biodiversity in recent decades. He was knighted in 1985 and 2020. Among other things, for his achievements in the field of nature conservation. He may therefore call himself ‘Sir’.

De Vries: “The only question is, what do you base your authority on. Have you earned it with anything?” At least they don’t have a track record like Attenborough yet. But he also had more time for that.

Less flying? not at all

Back to the question from the beginning of the article: do we listen to Attenborough too? The answer to that is twofold. There is a big difference between listening and believing in the message, and in actually acting and adjusting the behaviour.

A survey by CBS last year showed that 75 percent of the Dutch are concerned about the consequences of climate change and six out of ten people see ourselves as the main cause of climate change. So far Attenborough’s message has gotten through.

Urgency by media and politics

But then. Fly less to contribute? Two-thirds of the respondents do not think about this, CBS spokesman Dick ter Steege told RTL Nieuws earlier. Stop eating meat? Only 5 percent of the Dutch do that. And windmills? Nice, but only one in five thinks it is okay if they are also in their own living environment.

They are important, authorities like Attenborough who you can listen to, says De Vries. But that’s not all, and certainly not enough. The urgency is also increased by the media, and especially by politics.

In that regard, things are slowly moving in the right direction, sees De Vries. “Media attention for the climate is growing, and politicians are now taking real steps. You can see this, for example, in making a heat pump mandatory if your central heating system needs to be replaced. That is a signal to people that it is important.”