Climate Change: David Attenborough on the BBC

David Attenborough has graced us with an outstanding documentary about climate change, and about the modern political struggle around it. Start with James Hansen … end with Greta Thunberg.

Thank you, David, and thank you, BBC. This video may not be available forever, so please get lots of people to watch it here soon. It’s too important to ignore.

14 responses to “Climate Change: David Attenborough on the BBC

  1. Yes. It was excellent, if a bit short on remedies. even though Mike Berners-Lee was in the programme, there was no mention of the enormous footprrints of cars. See

    Apart from this instance of excellence, the BBC is bad on climate. Recently the have been giving lots of coverage of the Extinction Rebellion chaos -the coverage concentrates on the chaos rather sidelining the cliamate issue. Yet when Greta Thunberg gives her really powerful, scientifically informed speeches they have more-or-less ignored them – there is a static reference on Children’s BBC Newsround.

    I haven’t found any clips of her speeches on the BBC like the one she gave to the European Parliament

    I think the BBC is being dragged reluctantly into reporting climate change properly. In the case of this excellent programme, I suspect David Attenborough was doing the dragging.

    • I think the BBC (& other news outlets) needs a bit more help if it is going to do an appropriate job on AGW.

      I consider that the BBC still has enough climate denialists within it such that reporting AGW is something they do reluctantly. The anti-AGW messengers got a good slap with the ruling that having an articulate but swivel-eyed denialist pitched against a climate scientists is no longer acceptable as being balanced coverage. But they are still there.
      I witnessed a Politics Live a few weeks back (11 Feb) when denialist Fraser Nelson (editor of the Spectator) was pitched against David Wallace-Wells (author of ‘The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming’). Wallace-Wells wasn’t as assertive as he should have been and the rest of those present were climate innocents allowing Nelson to present a message the GWPF would have been proud of. I did complain to the BBC but was fobbed off with “This does not mean, however, that we should never hear from someone who opposes this consensus, especially if they are influential in the political debate about how to tackle climate change. There are times when it is editorially appropriate to hear from a dissenting voice.” I think this was probably a cut&paste from….
      Some BBC editorial guidelines were set out last autumn including the quote:

      “To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken.”

      There were also enough caviats to allow denialists a foot in the door.
      Yet the denialists on the right-wing of the Tory party are better positioned than ever to influence the BBC politically and there is the powerful journalistic argument that the viewers are bored witless by AGW.
      So in that situation, it takes a national treasure like Attenborough to bludgeon through a programme like last Thursday’s while reporting the school strikes and Thunberg herself get lower editorial positioning to the point of becoming ‘the dead donkey’.
      Of course the Brexit coverage, which like AGW, also bores a whole raft of viewers, that they plough on with regardless as it is all about the political class that rules (supposedly) the country. And the London protests also cannot be ignored.

      Yet I think the science & AGW activists are failing to create a narrative that connects with the public. The Attenborough programme was, in the main, winding the same old handle. I think you need more than bats falling dead out of trees and a couple of fools trying to drive through a burning forest if you want to hold that audience for an hour.
      In my view, a theme that is poorly used is the mismatch between the mitigation we need to see, the mitigation agreed in treaties and the actual mitigation that is being achieved. It is from that stark reality that you show where it is leading and it doesn’t need explaining in depth.

  2. Reblogged this on Anmerkungen und Beobachtungen and commented:
    Ein großer Bogen vom Ökosystem, das mehr und mehr unter Stress gerät, über Palmöl, über die Dummköpfe, deren Verschiebetaktik doch so leicht einhakt auch bei uns, zu den positiven Ansätzen und den Protestbewegungen. … Professionell gemacht. Englische Originalfassung.

  3. Susan Anderson

    And this wonderful item from Greta Thunberg at the EU: “Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to ‘panic like the house is on fire’”

    • Thanks, Susan. The more I see and hear Greta speak, the more I’m convinced that she is one of the most important people in the world today! She is fearless in telling it like it is, or should be. Our so-called leaders and influential people that currently run the world should all heed her call for immediately stopping to ignore what must be done now if we are to have even a slim chance of providing a livable future for today’s young people. I really feel that this short video of Greta’s address is just as important and probably even more so than David Attenborough’s BBC film which does lay out most of the problems and how we got to this point, but still doesn’t provide the urgency and directness that Greta provides in her little address to the EU conference. With more and more young people becoming alarmed and enraged and engaged, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increasing number of mass demonstrations and disruptions, including massed civil disobedience that would dwarf anything that happened in the 1960s when I was Greta’s age. The big shots as well as the rest of us better get used to it since the kids have nothing to lose and maybe something real to gain.

  4. Donate $1 (or more) to Jay Inslee
    and help him put climate prominently into the Democratic Party debates.

  5. Al Rodger makes some interesting points regarding BBC. Four years ago I noticed that the 3 BBC episodes “The Climate Wars”, narrated by Dr. Iain Stewart (viewable on YouTube early 2013) were removed for copyright violations by early 2014. (I had to pull it from my Google Doc posting.) I enquired about acquiring these videos (for free or by purchase) and was led down a rabbit hole by BBC Worldwide and the ‘Brand Protection Team’. In short, despite one of the reasons being that full episode uploading on You Tube was damaging to their sales, I was unable to view or purchase any such product and it is not available in the BBC shop. This was a well-produced series on climate change. Why did they go through the expense of production on this incredibly important topic, yet not make it available online for viewing or purchasing? The cynic in me (with no proof) wondered whether someone pulled the plug on it for “political” reasons. In my mind, it was well worth watching.

    • Tom Muir,
      I have to say that I’ve watched Iain Stewart narrate some climate messaging verging on the setting out the denialist message. I particularly remember during a programme on fracking – one minute admiring the fossils within the shale rock, the next advocating smashing the rocks to pieces to release the precious methane gas. I suppose it’s what geologists can sound like in their day job.
      But regarding “The Climate Wars”, there was a kerfuffle due to the mad Viscount Monckton objecting to the coverage he got, this mentioned by this Telegraph piece. I vaguely remember it but came across it tracking down this posting of version of the three episodes of “The Climate Wars” which is still on-line.

      As for the BBC, they have been trying very hard in the last few days. Let’s hope thay can keep it up.

      • Thanks ever so much for your response Al.
        Sadly, I was too focussed on YouTube withdrawing viewing that I failed to think of searching elsewhere.
        I reviewed the 3 episodes — and had forgotten they dated back to 2008. Aside from some aspects regarding styles of editing and script writing (it would be interesting to know who actually wrote the script), I feel the content has largely held up. They seemed to overplay the “scientists got it wrong with Earth cooling in the 1970s (largely media from my understanding). I think they were too kind with the blatant deniers by not even identifying many of them or their affiliations so people, in retrospect, could appreciate how much lying was being perpetrated on them.
        Anyway, thanks again — now onward with Attenborough’s approach…

  6. What ARE the most effective means to find sustainable solutions to a temperature rise of 4-6° Celsius (by the end of the century) that will result in catastrophic climate change if the status quo path of fossil fuel consumption is not curtailed by sustainable solutions? I posit the most effective arguments are not debating the merit or minutiae related to the scientific consensus on global warming as detailed in the IPCCC report, but instead economic arguments as;
    1. the LCOE of renewable energy is now generally less expensive than that of fossil fuels
    and 2. conservatives will generally respond better to economic arguments

    With that in mind, Green City Times has developed set of actionable goals in order to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale>>>

    Please let me know your thoughts.

    • I agree that the most crucial question is “What do we (best) do?”, and agree that the renewable revolution has upended the economic playing field. But it’s not an either/or thing.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll be checking it out!

  7. The reason that economic arguments tend to trump (pardon the pun) environmental arguments when find solutions to anthropogenic climate change, is because the senate is majority climate denying Republicans, who are more likely to respond to economic arguments. You could simply say, “renewable energy is better than fossil fuels, because renewable energy is better for the environment”, but odds are Republican senators won’t care until you also point out that the LCOE of renewable energy is less than the cost of fossil fuels. Republican senators will be needed to pass environments regulatory laws (now that Trump has destroyed the Clean Power Plan, new energy/ environmental regulations are needed), and hopefully a federal carbon pricing system. For more details on creating sustainable cities in America, please see: