By JR on Saturday, November 12, 2011
Attenborough-worship has made them forget to check the historical facts. See my addendum to the excerpt below for the missing history
It’s just one of a host of mind-blowing images in Sir David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet – but it also provides a taste of things to come both in the series and in the white world at large. In the opening minutes of this week’s episode, the camera followed a rushing river of meltwater, carving a curving canyon in an Arctic ice-shelf before plunging off it in just one of a thousand waterfalls.
In itself, of course, this is normal enough: it happens every summer as the sun returns after the long polar night. But, in a sense, the hurrying water carries with it the series’ ultimate message; that the ice is melting not just on a seasonal, but an epochal scale.
For as the 85-year-old Attenborough, like Prospero, sees his “project gather to a head” in what will surely be his last blockbuster series, two largely separate strands of his life – as the father of natural history television, and as a growing voice of environmental concern – are finally coming together.
It is likely to be a persuasive development, for until quite recently the old magician was a global warming sceptic, waiting, as he put it, “until the proof was conclusive that it was humanity changing the climate”. Now the man who easily topped a poll to find Britain’s most trusted public figure (Peter Mandelson came bottom, so it must have been accurate) says he has “no doubt” that it is “man-made”.
So far the issue has scarcely featured amid the amazing sequences of killer whales washing seals off ice floes, penguins surfing Antarctic waves, or wolves bringing down a bison – all, and so very much more, filmed over four years during a record 2,356 crew days in the field which consumed 598 pairs of thermals. There has been just one reference to icebergs steadily increasing “as the world continues to warm”, though in pieces to camera at the North and South Poles in the opening episode Sir David says we may be seeing their wonders “for the last time”.
But during his next appearance – in the last episode, with something of a personal testimony – there will be no mistaking the message. Standing at the North Pole on ice just a couple of yards thick, he will warn that it is likely that “within the next few decades there will be open water here for the first time in human recorded history”.
The warning may have been a while coming, but Sir David – as he insists, no propagandist – has long campaigned on green issues. As “a very junior squirt” he helped start the World Wildlife Fund 50 years ago and has since supported almost every conceivable conservationist cause, while being particularly vocal on population growth.
ADDENDUM: Was Attenborough ever a skeptic? We read above: "quite recently the old magician was a global warming sceptic" But read a small excerpt from an April 2008 article that is now offline but still in the Google cache:
"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.... Attenborough's focus on population control as a major solution to environmental problems is well-documented"
So he has always been just another Greenie misanthrope.
Peskiest all is that there was NO ICE at the North pole in the year 2000. How does that fit with Attenborough's assertion that "“within the next few decades there will be open water here for the first time in human recorded history”. Did human history begin in 2001?. The man is either a fraud or a fool.
In support of the "fraud" accusation is that he lives in London despite his proclaimed love of natural environments. If he really did think that way he would be living in the Southland of New Zealand -- infinitely more pristine and naturally beautiful than London. And yet they have good internet access there and speak English. And you can definitely drink the water. He might even discover what fresh food tastes like in New Zealand -- JR