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David Attenborough is making the same mistake as Greta Thunberg–Ross Clark

January 17, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Ross Clark had a sceptical article in the Telegraph the other day, so it is good seeing him follow it up with this in the Spectator.

It is behind a paywall, but you can easily subscribe for 5 free articles a month to read it:



It wasn’t so long ago that Sir David Attenborough came across as a calm voice of reason. His much-admired documentaries touched on environmental issues but were not driven by them; they were not morality plays. But something seems to have got into Sir David. He has become a Greta of the third age.

The rot set in last April when he narrated a programme on climate change which used the same, tired old trick Al Gore has used: running a commentary on climate change against pictures of hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and floods, as if to plant in the viewer the idea that all these events were caused by, and therefore wouldn’t have happened without, climate change.

Clark’s main argument is that Attenborough seems to believe we are helpless in the face of climate change. In reality there are all sorts of things human civilisation can do to mitigate change, climate or otherwise, just as it has managed to do for aeons.

Well worth a read.

It is certainly encouraging to see the beginnings of a fightback against the ultra alarmism propagated the Gretas and Attenboroughs, and enabled by the likes of the BBC.

  1. Robert Jones permalink
    January 17, 2020 6:35 pm

    Sir David is fronting for the BBC’s ‘Year of Climate Change Reality’ because he has been painted as the pioneering and reasonable face of ‘genteel protest’, as opposed to the ratbags of Extortion Rebellion and the passionate but empty rhetoric of the deluded Greta.

    The grotesque failings of the BBC (backtracking on free licensing, overpaid talent, grossly-overpaid staff, ineffective in-house complaint procedures, discriminating pay rates, lofty international ambitions and a feeble Board of Governors) should come to a head this year if the Government can create the time, opportunity, strategy and strength of will to bring matters to a decisive head.

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 17, 2020 7:10 pm

    Helpless in the face of climate disasters? Only if we surrender to the current hysteria.

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 17, 2020 7:33 pm

    I’ve got this bee in my bonnet and I’m going to keep banging this drum – of a mixed metaphor – until someone proves me wrong: Climate, says IPCC, is weather x 30 years; weather x 1 is NOT climate. And climate does not create/alter/affect weather; in order to modify the climate we will need to be able to change the weather and, if you claim CO² is the cause of warming and reduce it you will, by extension reduce cooling as well as heating: do these people really want to live in a colder climate? Alarmists like Attenborough are fond of telling us what (the models say) is the effect of 2-3 Deg of warming but when will they tell us what a 2-3 Deg of cooling will feel like?

    As for the BBC of late, they need to be taken to court for advancing political solutions outside of their remit. They have no right to extrapolate the assumed outcomes of CC and suggest political expediences to remediate the perceived problem without any balance ie: without someone being allowed to argue the alternative.

    /end of rant

    • Ariane permalink
      January 17, 2020 9:09 pm

      Harry, it all comes back to the original ideology which Attenborough shares: the desire to limit growth – prevent development and destroy industry. Perhaps Attenborough would prefer to sacrifice development and prosperity for the benefit of wild animals and their environment. The ideology comes from the belief that humans and development threaten the natural world which must be prevented – using lies, propaganda, non-science and lots of money. The best way they came up with was to vilify CO2. Another good way has been to claim that state control of the means of production/energy policy is what the people want.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        January 17, 2020 9:40 pm

        Ariane, he’s wrong, of course. If he is successful (he will never know in his limited life-time) in limiting growth then he will be responsible for expanding the family unit because there will be a need for more people to produce within the ever-lowering productivity that reduced access to cheap and available energy the Greens like him would wish upon us.
        Only cheap, available and reliable energy can reduce the family unit and, therefore, the global population.

      • Ariane permalink
        January 17, 2020 9:59 pm

        Harry, Attenborough and those of his ilk are nor just ‘wrong’, they are doing their best to sabotage humanity’s prosperity and development. Wealthy people who don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from or how it will be cooked or where they’ll have to go for clean water or for electricity so the children can study.

    • George Davidson permalink
      January 17, 2020 10:47 pm

      Thank you for a well written post. I live in Canada and a 3-5 degree increase would be a bonus for all of us here in Canada. And crop yields would go up not down as the alarmists claim. I have a degree in crop science so I understand about frost free days and heat units for crop yields. The alarmists do not know what they are talking about when talking about C02 , which is the backbone of all life on the planet. If anything we are in a C02 drought

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        January 18, 2020 10:36 pm

        Record crops last year.

    • bobn permalink
      January 18, 2020 12:12 am

      Since BBC are now running an overt political campaign pushing their partisan political agenda, surely it is illegal to force people to subscibe to their political party? The licence tax must be illegal?

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 18, 2020 12:51 am

      “… if you claim CO² is the cause of warming and reduce it you will, by extension reduce cooling as well as heating…”

      Harry…the problem, of course, is that nobody can reduce the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere by the amounts needed to make a difference to the climate, either warming or cooling. Only Nature can do that and it takes geological time. CCS technology even coupled with bioenergy, is woefully inadequate…and there is no safe place to put it even if they could do it. Remember, only one part-per-million of CO2 is almost eight billion metric tons. Multiply that number by the amounts of ppms needed.

    • dennisambler permalink
      January 18, 2020 3:42 pm

      Rant on, I agree.

      Has it warmed since 1850? I sincerely hope so!

      Click to access 1974.pdf

      The western world’s leading climatologists have confirmed recent reports of a detrimental global climatic change. The stability of most nations is based upon a dependable source of food, but this stability will not be possible under the new climatic era. A forecast by the University of Wisconsin projects that the earth’s climate is returning to that of the neo-boreal era, (1600-1850)- an era of drought famine and political unrest in the western world.

      We are now told that pre-1850 was a desirable time, a time to which we should aspire and could achieve if only we stopped using fossil fuels. We now have to believe that an increase of 1.1 degree C since that time of drought and famine, the result of the severe cold of the Little Ice Age, is unnatural and dangerous, rather than a welcome relief from the awfulness of the pre-1850 climate, although there were several warm breaks in the 18th century.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      January 18, 2020 4:14 pm

      Climate, says IPCC, is weather x 30 years; …

      Maybe someone has written such. I don’t know.
      The “30 year” thing came from meetings in the 1930s when weather folks were trying to find a more-or-less common way of presenting data that could be compared to historical weather known by the local reader of newspapers. They chose 30 years and called the averages “Climate Normals.”

      Remember this was before modern computers so recording readings, summaries, and averages was time consuming.

      During the meeting (I think 1935 in Warsaw) the folks settled on a 30 year average with the spans beginning with a year where the last digit of the first year is ‘1’ and the last digit of the ending year is ‘0’.

      We thus have “Climate Normals” for the spans of 1961-1990, 1971-2000, 1981-2010, 1991- 2020… the last appearing in mid-2021.

      Much like the 1.5° or 2° choice of a critical rise in temperature, or the 97% consensus, or the 1 M. sq. Kms = “ice free Arctic”, the ’30’ in the notion of defining climate is a just a number.

      Climates (note the ‘s’) are better defined by vegetation boundaries, as was proposed by Wladimir Köppen about 1900.

  4. Tony Jackson, permalink
    January 17, 2020 7:53 pm

    I reserve the right to have a climate footprint at least the same as the said Attenborough, any BBC representative, or for that matter, Prince Charles himself.

  5. Peter Young permalink
    January 17, 2020 7:56 pm

    Climate change, a panacea for the neurotic,

  6. Thomas Carr permalink
    January 17, 2020 8:50 pm

    While Extinction Rebellion have an agenda which is more to do with anti capitalism the real trouble is that the alarmists, the Univ. of East Anglia etc. have left themselves open to massive reputational risk. So they will be increasingly reluctant to consider the facts outside their own echo chamber that suggest they might be wrong.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 17, 2020 10:03 pm

    It’s seems I have a lot to say today. I blame the BBC for angrifying my blood (h/t Willis –
    I also blame the discipline of keeping a diary – which was my 2000 resolution, a million words ago – and writing the following today:

    This year the climate change circus that is COP – Conference Of the Parties – meets at Glasgow for the COP26 climate change meeting. This is where 20,000 plus delegates fly in from all over the world to debate how the worlds’ governments (for them, that means United Nations Global Government – the invention of which acronym I claim invention: UNGG) can stop the world’s population from flying so as to protect the climate! We’ve had the Age of Enlightenment; the Age of Discovery; the Reformation; the Industrial Revolution; the Age of Enlightenment; and the Scientific Revolution. Now we have the Age of the New Luddite – the UNGG.


    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 17, 2020 10:08 pm

      Should be ‘world’s’. of course!

    • roger permalink
      January 17, 2020 10:35 pm

      The Scottish Police Service have announced that they have put aside from this year’s budget the sum of £200M for the cost of policing the Glagow CC meeting at the end of the year.
      This is about £40 per head of the population to enable the halfwit fishwife to strut around the Scottish potholed stage as a decreasing number of visiting world leaders titter behind their hands.

      • ianprsy permalink
        January 17, 2020 11:09 pm

        Surely not £200m, Roger? Their total budget is “only” £1.065billion. I stand to be corrected, of course, but 20% of the annual budget in two weeks? Would the thrifty* (*not racist, I hope) Scots stand for it?

    • bobn permalink
      January 18, 2020 12:21 am

      I’ve named the current world as ‘The Age of Idiocy’. They’re worse than luddites – luddites just resisted change, these newage nutters want to go backwards to a time of gross infant mortality, and death from cold and hunger. A Luddite looks positively intelligent compared to XR and dave Attenbollocks.

  8. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 17, 2020 10:08 pm

    Read David Sedgwick’BBC Brainwashing Britain’ for an analysis of BBC narratives and attitudes. Full of recent real world examples. Shameful record.

  9. January 17, 2020 10:08 pm

    I am a subscriber to the Spectator. It has lots of good articles (and some not so good, such as written by Matthew Parris). Unfortunately the Speccie has limited readership and influence so it is hardly likely to carry any weight compared to the MSM, the NGOs and politicians.

  10. Mack permalink
    January 17, 2020 10:10 pm

    Looking forward to the BBC’s Christmas pantomime next year when the old Malthusian, Sir David Attenborough, plays King Herod in a star spangled production of ‘Murder of the First Born’. Bound to be a big success amongst all those members of the wankerati who seem to run Energy and Environmental policies in the West and who think killing people by sending us back to the Stone Age will save the planet. For those who believe that the world’s current population is unsustainable and unsupportable, the proven means of reducing population has, historically, been shown to be by improving the health, wealth and energy security of the poorest members of society. Wealthy, energy secure countries have relatively low birth rates and good environmental standards. Poor and developing countries have the opposite, although they improve on all metrics with ‘trickle down’ wealth. Such wealth is only acquired via the use of cheap and reliable energy sources i.e. fossil fuels. Renewables can’t deliver the same quality of life and are awful for the environment. Hence why the developing nations are not interested in western ‘climate guilt’ unless they can use it as a device to enrich themselves. And who can blame them?

    • George Davidson permalink
      January 17, 2020 10:59 pm

      Good post. You are enlighted

      • Mack permalink
        January 17, 2020 11:53 pm

        More ‘ignited’ than ‘enlighted’ (surely not enlightened?) but the latter is an interesting word. If Attenborough had his way, and we confined fossil fuels to the ground, and renewables dont cut the mustard in the future, as they surely won’t without proper fossil fuelled back up, what’s then going to happen to the planet’s precious and recently rejuvenated whale and animal populations? As our ancestors quickly discovered, the oil from whale blubber makes excellent lantern fuel. Tallow from animal fat also makes wonderful candles. When conventional lighting sources become prohibitively expensive who could blame the less fortunate and more enterprising members of our societies in looking for alternatives, albeit the tried and tested methods from the days of old? Looks like Sir David Doolittle might need to be careful for what he wishes.

    • Ariane permalink
      January 18, 2020 9:04 am

      Mack, you could have added that the mental attitude of these neo-Malthusians is fascist and their propaganda and activities are criminal. They and their ideology need to be exposed and dealt with appropriately.

  11. Luc Ozade permalink
    January 18, 2020 6:44 am

    Judging by the increase in the number of comments on the last 2 articles – both about the abomination that is the BBC – it seems to me that people are getting more and more angry at the arrogance of our national broadcaster. The BBC is a total disgrace. I can’t wait for the day when it is taken to court for disseminating lies and fake news.

  12. Robin Guenier permalink
    January 18, 2020 9:35 am

    I don’t think it’s true that Attenborough believes we are helpless in the face of climate change. Here’s what he says:

    This is an urgent problem that has to be solved. And what is more we know how to do it…[yet] we’re refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.

    In other words, it’s not that we’re helpless – it’s that we’re not getting on with it. And that, I believe, is the message the BBC will be pumping out in the lead up to the Glasgow conference in November.

    However, he goes on to make a significant observation. Having said that ‘we can no longer prevaricate’ and that ‘we have to make deliberate, compelling life or death decisions’, he says this:

    Where on the bigger scale are these decisions needed to come next? Answer: China. If the Chinese come and say: ‘Not because we are worried about the world, but for our own reasons, we are going to take major steps to curb our carbon output because our climate is changing, we are going to do it,’ everybody else would fall into line, one thinks. That would be the big change that one could hope would happen.

    In other words, he hasn’t the faintest idea how the Chinese might be persuaded to do this. And it’s because no one else in the West has the faintest idea how to persuade China, India, Iran (and all the other big ‘developing’ countries plus Russia and Japan) to ‘take steps’ to cut their emissions that global emissions keep increasing – and not because his (and the BBC’s) audience is not getting on with it. It’s about time Attenborough and the BBC woke to that reality and stopped castigating us.

    • mike stoddart permalink
      January 18, 2020 12:13 pm

      The greens are quite keen on China for the simple reason that they imagine it doesn’t have to bother with all that democracy nonsense that binds the hands of western politicians.

      • George Davidson permalink
        January 18, 2020 3:48 pm

        Start a group to petition Boris Johnston’s government to cancel BBC news license

    • Paul R permalink
      January 18, 2020 2:24 pm

      But where he and the BBC are plain wrong is that they are makking the misguided assumption that fossil fuels are causing climate change. It’s that basic premise which has to be argued, with the facts, not the failed attempts to dissuade fossil fuel emitters.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        January 18, 2020 4:34 pm

        I’ve no scientific training Paul, so don’t know whether or not that assumption is ‘misguided’. But I’d be delighted if the BBC were to change its policy and allow all shades of informed opinion to be represented in its climate programming. But surely by now we must accept that there’s no realistic prospect of the BBC allowing that to happen?

        But there’s no reason why its policy should prevent discussion of the realities of international climate politics: that ‘developing’ economies such as China, India, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Brazil – the source of over 65 percent of emissions – have no serious interest in emission reduction is a matter of fact, not opinion. Moreover, it’s a fact that has direct impact on UK government policy – particularly in the run-up to the Glasgow conference. As previous (Labour) administrations have made clear, effective emission reduction can only be achieved if it’s tackled globally. See this article that Paul kindly allowed me to post here last year:

  13. Vernon E permalink
    January 18, 2020 11:39 am

    My retirement years have been enhanced by the good work that Paul Homewood does here and I enjoy the comments – until recently. Please, please would commenters cut back on repeating – at length – what we all know. By definition, readers of this blog hold the same views: put long or short “climate change emergency” is a nonsense, Attenborough is an old fool and the BBC is criminally broadcasting beyond its charter. We know all this. Please, unless you have something new to say, or an action plan, keep it brief.

  14. Paul R permalink
    January 18, 2020 1:38 pm

    Cimate haiku…

    Attenbore preaches
    And Auntie offers obeisance
    Will the truth prevail?

  15. Michael Adams permalink
    January 18, 2020 6:16 pm

    Let me get this right, 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere reflects back to earth enough heat for the planet to heat up quite a big percentage. Others can supply the figure.

    If I was building a house that demanded 1 million tiles to keep all the heat in and I only had managed to place 400 here and there would the outcome be a that some of the heat was kept in? I would have thought that the heat reflected by the 400 tiles would find a way out through the space left by the missing 999.960 tiles or am i being silly.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      January 18, 2020 10:40 pm

      Nope. Tiny. 0.25 degrees C.

    • Ariane permalink
      January 19, 2020 11:45 am

      Michael, indeed you are not silly but very sensible. Proves the point that there is no science in the anti-CO2 movement.

  16. john cooknell permalink
    January 18, 2020 7:15 pm

    You must remember the BCC idiots thought the election would be won on policies of climate change. Somebody should tell them they are so out of touch.

    • Michael Adams permalink
      January 19, 2020 3:02 am

      For the first time in my life I went out canvassing in this election. I don’t know how many people I spoke to but, over 14 hours in different types of location, CC was not mentioned once. People were interested in all sorts of things, most prominently Brexit, and the things that genuinely effected their lives. Sorry BBC but you are out of touch by a long way. If BBC was a quoted company I reckon investors would be selling their shares in droves as they realised how out of touch management is.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 19, 2020 12:01 pm

        Not necessarily – look at Tesla. Shares have gone up as it was revealed that in 2019 they sold nearly as many cars as Ford sells pickup trucks in 3 months. Absurd that they have a market value of more than GM and Ford combined and yet are not profitable and have a turnover barely equal to GM’s profits. Go figure that one out. BBC must be delighted that their holding has increased in value. But the warnings are there such as Muskrat saying he was pleased China had not cut their battery car subsidy any further than they have already which caused the first drop in battery car sales worldwide. No, this won’t be on BBC news.

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