David Attenborough says Earth's 'Garden of Eden' age is no more

Key Points
  • The world has entered a new geological age, David Attenborough says.
  • The naturalist says the Holocene is finished and we are now in "the Anthropocene, the age of humans."
  • Attenborough has taken questions from Prince William at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
British naturalist, documenter, and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough delivers a speech after receiving a Crystal Award during a ceremony ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 annual meeting, on January 21, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland.
FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images

The naturalist and TV presenter David Attenborough warned that human activity has forced the Earth into a "new geological age."

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday, Attenborough said that he was born during the Holocene, a 12,000-year era of climatic stability that had allowed civilization to flourish. But, he continued, that long period of history had ended during his lifetime.

"The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans," he declared.

A survey conducted before the annual economic forum concluded that environmental disruption is now the biggest danger to the global economy.

The U.K.'s Prince William arrived at the WEF event on Tuesday to discuss environmental issues with Attenborough.

Taking questions from the royal, the 92-year-old continued his theme, stating that the human race was "so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive," before adding "the mechanisms that we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening."

In October 2018, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claimed in a report that between 1970 and 2014, 60 percent of all animals with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — were wiped out by human activity.

Picking up on that theme, Attenborough said when his career started the notion that human beings would, or could, exterminate a whole species seemed like an exceptional event.

Attenborough added that world leaders had failed to act on threats to the environment because so many people now lived in towns and the connection between the natural world and the urban world was being lost.