In the fifty-some years since Sir David Attenborough began producing shows about Earth's wildlife, our planet has changed considerably. Population has skyrocketed. Cities have grown and spread to accommodate massive influx from the countryside. Species have become endangered; extinct. And amidst it all, Attenborough—the famed British TV naturalist and by some accounts the world's most-traveled human—has borne witness.
Since the 1950s, and more habitually since the 1970s when he began working on his acclaimed "Life" series for the BBC, Attenborough has been trekking the globe. And while following seals, writing about bird migration or marveling over elephants in that thrilled whisper he is so famous for, he has seen Earth as few of us have.
In conversation, Attenborough's optimism about the current state of human interest in climate issues can seem at times naive: "In the last five or 10 years global warming has become incontrovertible," he says, seemingly unaware of the huge numbers of people who continue to believe it quite controvertible. "We have to work harder to convince people; over the years your country has changed its view," he says, glossing over the U.S.'s still tenuous relationship with the subject.
But Attenborough is no fool, and whatever hope he has for a humanity that not only believes in global warming but cares is tempered with realism about the current state of things. "We are fantastically wasteful. We thought we could forever use what we want without consequence," he says. "Something has got to be done."
Attenborough's focus on population control as a major solution to environmental problems is well-documented; but this, he recognizes, is not the ultimate way out. "The effects of curbing growth won't be felt for decades," he says. "We have got to face the problem immediately." Education is the key—we have to first understand the "extreme practical reasons to practice environmentalism"—as is a moral realignment: "It wasn't so long ago, especially in your country, that slavery was morally acceptable." As far as Attenborough is concerned, the solution comes down to knowledge—something that, if the politicians and scientists fail to provide, television might tackle. Here, in a way, is where someone like Attenborough steps in.
"If television does its job, it can make people aware," Attenborough notes at one point. "People enjoy looking at these things—they recognize, in the marrow of their bones, that this is important." Whether we take these images as evidence of the world's vulnerability or, as some critics have lobbed, as evidence that thing are OK, is some other story. But what we do with this knowledge is up to us—that is, of course, if we can tear ourselves away from the TV. Something to consider this Earth Day.
In "The Green Screen" David Attenborough states:
“In the last five or 10 years global warming has become incontrovertible”
He is apparently unaware that the temperature data show a trend that is flat or cooling over the last ten years, and certainly cooling over the last five. Analysis shows that the cooling trend is statistically significant to the extent that the IPCC hypothesis of global warming is falsified.
It was revealed this week that some of the impressive footage of ice shelf collapse in Gore's polemic "An Inconvenient Truth", was computer-generated fantasy from a bad science fiction film. Unless we can take the public conversation out of the hands of ideologues like Gore who profit from making speeches where the media are excluded as part of the engagement contract and from promoting cap-and-trade schemes with no provable net benefit, and have a dispassionate examination of the state of our knowledge based on scientific fact, we are in danger of tainting all efforts at environmental progress by the rapidly unraveling pseudo-science of global warming.
What David Attenborough has done is commendable and this is what all of us should be doing, instead of denying the facts. Truly a sad commentary from the previous person.
"...instead of denying the facts. Truly a sad commentary from the previous person."
The facts are that studies show the Earth's temperature to have plateaued and actually cooled to a small degree over the past few years.
The facts are that any scientific data suggesting that 'man-made' global warming is a myth or maybe be wrong, is over-looked.
Yes, the Earth's weather, and environment has gone haywire over the past few decades, but I find it arrogant of the human race to assume that they are responsible.
The Earth goes through environmental cycles, this is a well-known fact that I need no scientific background to mention (at school we're taught about ice-ages and how they come and go), and it has been suggested that rapid environmental change could have killed the dinosaurs.
Of course the Earth was heating up, we've just come out of an ice-age (and by 'just' I'm looking at it from the timespan of the Earth. To us it was thousands of years ago, but as far as the Earth is concerned it was yesterday).
So if we accept that ice-ages come and go, and we have scientists suggesting that the environment could have changed rapidly enough to kill an entire planets worth of animals, who are we to suggest that humans are responsible for how the environment is acting at the minute?
Entire continents overrun with people, mass production of goods and their mass disposal, if you think 6 billion people can't change the world around them enough for it to kick back.... wait 20 yrs, you'll have 3 billion more.
Let's talk then about how impotent against the earth we are.
What really sucks is that society as a whole prevents anyone from going back to a simpler life... where is the land I can nurture a garden on? There is none for me if I don't buy into the whole deal, even then it's tenuous at best.
Desire for profit and more leisure time has led us here... the road back is gone.
What do bison think of 6 billion people? Or tigers? Or whales? Won't matter before long... they'll be gone.
There are none so blind as those who feel entitled.
For those in denial, here is an excerpt from the headline story at NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's) website today 4/24/08
April 17, 2008
The average global land temperature last month was the warmest on record and ocean surface temperatures were the 13th warmest. Combining the land and the ocean temperatures, the overall global temperature ranked the second warmest for the month of March. Global temperature averages have been recorded since 1880.
Aww, that Meerkat on his shoulder is amazing! Not-to-mention, he's an amazing guy. If anyone can help TV get across the point of become green, it's definitely David Attenborough!
- Stacy, (http://www.myfda.org/)