Crusade against plastic is like end of slavery, says Attenborough


Sir David Attenborough has compared changing attitudes over plastic to the abolition of slavery, as he claimed 20 years of warnings about the issue had gone unheard.

Sir David Attenborough, speaking at the premiere of "Our Planet" at the Natural History Museum in London, in April, 2019.

Sir David Attenborough, speaking at the premiere of "Our Planet" at the Natural History Museum in London, in April, 2019.Credit:AP

The veteran television presenter likened the groundswell of concern over plastic at sea to the rapid hardening of attitudes against the slave trade in the 19th century.

He told MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy committee that public perception had "been transformed" such that people now believed that "to chuck plastic into the ocean is an insult".

Sir David said he had been warning about the dangers of plastic pollution in his documentaries for two decades, but that it was only a 90-second sequence in the 2017 Blue Planet 2 series that finally resonated widely.


He credited concern among young people for stimulating the change.

"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 as a slave," he told MPs.

"Somehow or other in the space of, I suppose, 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed. Now there's a huge change in the public perception [of plastic] – and, if you like, in the public perception of moralities. And I suspect that we are right now in the beginning of a big change."

The naturalist also criticised the practice of paying other countries, mainly those in the Far East, to take plastic waste from Britain.

It follows a Telegraph investigation last year that revealed widespread illegal dumping in Malaysia. In May, Yeo Bee Yin, the country's environment minister, singled out the UK for criticism while threatening to return up to 3,000 tons of low-quality plastic to at least 14 countries.

Sir David also warned that failing to tackle climate change would bring great "social unrest" in the form of pressure from immigration, food availability and the availability of cheap travel.

Despite criticising climate change deniers, including "people in power" in the US and Read More – Source