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Sir David Attenborough Slams Australia On Climate Change

During a damning speech on climate change inaction, Sir David Attenborough has singled out Australia as a country where science sceptics hold positions of power.

Speaking at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in the UK, the naturalist and documentary maker said our lack of action on climate change -- particularly in terms of damage done to the Great Barrier Reef -- was "appalling".

"I will never forget diving on the reef about 10 years ago and suddenly seeing that instead of this multitude of wonderful forms and life, that it was stark white,” he said.

“It had bleached white because of the rising temperatures and the increasing acidity of the sea.”

“Nobody thought that human beings could change the climate and we are… and what is worse is that we are changing the climate in a way that is irreversible.”

Though Attenborough does not think the voice of criticism should be "stamped on", he singled out both Australia and the United States as places where climate change sceptics or deniers held positions of power.

"Which is extraordinary because Australia is already facing, having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change," he said.

"But both Australia and America, those voices are clearly heard, and one hopes that the electorate will actually respond to those.”

The 93-year-old said we "cannot be radical enough" in dealing with climate change.

Sir David Attenborough talks on the Pyramid Stage on day five of Glastonbury Festival. Image: Getty

According to a Lowy Institute poll released in May, climate change is considered a "critical threat" to our national interests by almost two-thirds of Australians -- ranking it a higher serious concern among the population than terrorism.

It was the issue widely tipped to decide the Federal Election, before Scott Morrison -- who famously brought a lump of coal into parliament during question time -- managed to secure victory.

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Three massive climate protests staged by Australian school students have in the past ruffled political feathers. The School Strike 4 Climate rallies -- of which there have been three across the country -- saw thousands of students walk out of school to demand greater action on rising carbon emissions.

Morrison was an open opponent to the initiative.

"What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools," he said.

Attenborough said he was hopeful we are on the cusp of great social change thanks to young people who are taking a stand on climate change, comparing the attitude shift to the human rights fight against slavery.

"There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed," he said.

"I suspect that we are right now at the beginning of a big change. Young people, in particular, are the stimulus that’s bringing it about."