In the BBC programme Climate Change – The Facts, he outlined the scale of the crisis facing the planet. Sir David said we face “irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies”.
His new programme laid out the science behind climate change, the impact it is having right now and the steps that can be taken to fight it.
“It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”
Speaking to a range of scientists, the programme highlighted that temperatures are rising quickly, with the world now around 1c warmer than before the industrial revolution.
The programme showed dramatic scenes of people escaping from wildfires in the US and scientists say that the dry conditions that make wildfires so deadly are increasing as the planet heats up.
Some of the other impacts highlighted by scientists are irreversible.
“In the last year we’ve had a global assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland and they tell us that things are worse than we’d expected,” said Prof Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds.
These losses are driving up sea levels around the world. In the US, Louisiana is losing land at one of the fastest rates on the planet – a football field every 45 minutes.
“We are running out of time, but there is still hope,” said Sir David.
He argues that if dramatic action is taken over the next decade then the world can keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C this century. This would limit the scale of the damage.
The programme said that rapid progress is being made in renewable energy, with wind now as cheap as fossil fuels in many cases.
It shows how technologies to remove and bury carbon dioxide under the ground are now becoming more viable.
But politicians will need to act decisively and rapidly. “This is the brave political decision that needs to be taken,” said Chris Stark from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change.
“Do we incur a small but not insignificant cost now, or do we wait and see the need to adapt. The economics are really clear on this, the costs of action are dwarfed by the costs of inaction.”
The programme also highlights the rising generation of young people who are deeply concerned about what’s happening to the planet.