Sir Tony Robinson, star of Blackadder and veteran presenter of Time Team, has told Sky News he wants the message of climate change to be less about doom and gloom and more hopeful.
“I’ve been frustrated for quite some time about the way we talk about climate change,” he said.
“It’s like there’s nothing but doom and gloom.
“We might as well just suck our thumbs, sit in the corner and wait to die.”
Sir Tony, who has made several documentaries about climate change, was speaking to mark the launch of video game Floodland, a survival title set after a climate-induced apocalypse.
The city-builder forces players to contend with environmental challenges as humanity attempts to survive after a catastrophic flood wipes out most of the population.
‘We can’t be paralysed into inactivity’
Sir Tony said that games are a way of reaching a generation that has become prone to climate anxiety, and showing them there is still hope for the future of the planet.
“I was looking for pieces of culture that would discuss these really serious things but do so in a creative and even optimistic way,” he said.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t just teach children that climate change is so awful that they should be paralysed into inactivity.
“There is some evidence that some children are starting to think that, but we mustn’t teach them that.
“We’ve got to teach them about the positives – and where better to teach them that than on their screens?”
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‘The biggest issue facing the planet’
Floodland’s developer Vile Monarch chose the city-builder genre to complement the game’s message.
“The idea of the game was to make you feel constructive,” said writer Alexandre Stoganov.
“A lot of games pit you against terrible atrocities that people can commit against each other in order to survive, and this game is about how constructive you can be.”
Despite the game’s sometimes depressing aesthetic, Sir Tony likened it to a Shakespearean tragedy.
“You don’t go away from most productions of Othello and King Lear and think: ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to the theatre again, it was all so miserable’.
“You celebrate the play, you celebrate the acting, and that, I think, is what Floodland does so very well.
“It’s looking towards a new way of engaging with the biggest issue facing the planet.”
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‘We need to hold politicians accountable’
Regardless of projects like Floodland, Sir Tony said much more action was needed from governments to tackle the climate crisis.
In this month’s autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the government would proceed with the Sizewell C nuclear plant to bolster energy security and diversify further from harmful carbon.
He also committed to £6bn more in energy efficiency funding from 2025.
Sir Tony said: “There are aspirations in there, there are things that will help us, but there’s also a lot of hot air – and that’s where we come in, because we need to hold politicians accountable.
“On our own, as individuals, there’s a limit to what we can do: we can set an example, eat a few less burgers.
“It’s ordinary people and governments working together that’s going to solve this.”
Watch the Daily Climate Show at 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.
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The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.