Change our ways swiftly and globally: David Attenborough

David Attenborough  

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that the UPA government was criticised as being “too restrictive” on giving environmental clearances, but it knew how to strike a balance between protecting the environment and meeting development needs.

It doesn’t take an epidemic to tell us “we are not in good shape,” Dr. Singh said.

He made these remarks at a virtual ceremony where he conferred the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for 2019 on British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, whom he described as the “human voice of nature”.

‘Living legend’

“Climate change, the assault on the oceans, the pollution of the atmosphere, the junk floating about in space, the reduction of forest cover, the extinction of life in rivers, the reduction of natural habitat for any life other than humans – all this is evident to anyone who has eyes to see,” Dr. Singh said while praising Sir David as a living legend.

“Indeed, we were criticised by industrialists and those who thought we were being too restrictive. But I believe that if a proper balance is not firmly held, the results are deleterious and self-defeating,” said Dr. Singh.

The pandemic was a way of nature telling humans to be less exploitative.

In his acceptance speech, Sir David, 94, who is well known for his series The Living Planet , said the world was heading towards a crisis unlike any other in human history as “humans have overrun the planet.”

“We must change our ways, and we must do so swiftly and globally. But success will only come if the nations of the world agree to act to together and help one another. This will not be easy. We have to change from being nationalists and become internationalists,” he said.

In her opening remarks, Congress president Sonia Gandhi recalled the contribution of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and described her as “an unwavering champion of environment protection laws.”