Sir David Attenborough: Enough With the Creationists and Climate Change Deniers!

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Sir David Attenborough, the greatest naturalist of our time, says it’s foolish to blindly accept what you’ve learned at your mother’s knee.

Sir David Attenborough is one of the great naturalists of our time, celebrated for decades of peerless documentary making, an infectious love of the animal kingdom and that distinctive and enthusiastic whisper. Once criticized by campaigners for his reticence to address contentious issues, Attenborough is no longer willing to speak in hushed tones.

Sitting opposite the kangaroo enclosure at London Zoo, he told The Daily Beast he had lost patience with the “ignorance” of creationists, polluters, and climate change deniers. “To simply say that you must accept unquestioningly what you learned at your mother’s knee is not the act of an intelligent person,” he said.

It was a rare flash of frustration from a man who has spent more than 60 years in the public eye. He now walks with the aid of a stick but thanks his “lucky stars” that he is still making wildlife documentaries at the age of 87. As I arrived to meet him, he was describing to a former colleague how a cameraman had recently asked him to look directly into the lens while filming a segment instead of turning to face the creature that he was holding in his outstretched left hand. “How could I be so disrespectful?” he said. “No one wants to look at me.” 

Written By: Nico Hines
continue to source article at thedailybeast.com

35 COMMENTS

  1. His work on filming natural history is epic, but the “muppets for ignorance” even tried to censor one of his programmes when it covered climate change!

    Frozen Planet

    The seven-part series focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The production team were keen to film a comprehensive record of the natural history of the polar regions because climate change is affecting landforms such as glaciers, ice shelves, and the extent of sea ice. The film was met with critical acclaim and holds a Metacritic score of 90/100.[5] Despite such, it has been criticized for limited coverage of the effects of global warming and attribution of recent climate change.[6]

    Whilst the series was broadcast in full in the UK, the BBC chose to make the series’ seventh episode, which focuses on climate change, optional for syndication in order to aid sales of the show in countries where the issue is politically sensitive. The US Discovery Channel originally announced that they would air only the first six episodes of the show, but they later added the seventh episode to their schedule.[7][8]

    In 2012, the US broadcast won four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Nonfiction Series.

    • In reply to #1 by Alan4discussion:

      His work on filming natural history is epic, but the “muppets for ignorance” even tried to censor one of his programmes when it covered climate change!

      Frozen Planet

      The seven-part series focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The production team were keen to film a…

      I remember that. I watched the entire series and it was stunning. David Attenborough is one of my heroes. He’s way up there with the likes of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. It says a lot about creationists and climate deniers that even someone as tolerant and patient as Mr. Attenborough would get upset with them.

  2. In fact, Attenborough says he has finally grown sick of America’s attitude to climate change. “I think it’s very sad that people won’t accept evidence for what it says—it’s extraordinary that one of the wealthiest, materially advanced societies in the world can support irrational myths in that way,” he said. “That they should do it privately is up to them but since what they do effects that whole world it’s pretty serious that they should not accept that humanity has been responsible for these changes that are absolutely evident to everyone else.”

  3. A wonderful longterm proponent of reason who took the time to lead us by the hand in the joy of discovery. These folks are the gems that we still have and I applaud his work and sensibilities. I hope the best for you Sir David Attenborough and may your strength endure.

  4. Bundling creationism with climate change beliefs is quite insulting to scientists who dare to work on any hypothesis other than the one accepted by popular culture. How soon we forget how tectonic plate theory was trashed by the consensus. Today, we have more evidence that the Danish theory of climate change correlated with solar activity leading to changes in cloud formation is at least as good science as any in the field today. These scientists are not simply sitting at their mother’s side. For example,

    http://www.dtu.dk/english/News/Nyhed?id={ABB2F1B4-F5F7-4452-BB39-9818EA7CB8F9}

    Now to imply that these people are as lead headed as creation “scientists” is pretty lame. And there is also a CERN experiment to test the Danish hypothesis. Not exactly bible thumping.

    As always, when we see conflicting beliefs, the best guide is to follow the money. Businesses have no more disregard for truth than do researchers who will sprinkle their proposals with climate terms to get funding. When I worked for a NASA lab, we were told to emphasize anything that sounded like climate change studies. In fact, this added a 3rd funding possibility where previously only space and military work was available. When Jobs are at stake, nobody is immune.

    • In reply to #6 by rocket888:

      Bundling creationism with climate change beliefs is quite insulting to scientists who dare to work on any hypothesis other than the one accepted by popular culture. How soon we forget how tectonic plate theory was trashed by the consensus. Today, we have more evidence that the Danish theory of clima…

      “If somebody says to me I believe every word of the climate change deniers is true, you can’t argue against that degree of irrationality…there is actually a way of looking at the natural world and seeing the evidence and it’s all there. And what’s more it’s the same evidence whether it’s in Australia or Northern Europe or wherever. It’s all the same—it all produces the same answer and you can all see the evidence—if you reject that then there’s nothing I can say.”

    • In reply to #6 by rocket888:

      Bundling creationism with climate change beliefs is quite insulting to scientists who dare to work on any hypothesis other than the one accepted by popular culture. How soon we forget how tectonic plate theory was trashed by the consensus. Today, we have more evidence that the Danish theory of clima…

      Plate tectonic (drop the “h” please) theory was eventually accepted because of (drum roll……..)- enough proper evidence!- not because it was “controversial”

      Because Plate Tectonics was controversial (humans have egos) it took a while before it was taken seriously, but when it was looked at under scrutiny it was accepted.

      Anthropogenic Climate Change was looked at with INTENSE scrutiny and there is no longer any debate. The ONLY debate left is EXACTLY how much humans have effected the climate. Got it?!

  5. It has been observed that believers in catastropic anthropogenic climate change always tries to associate their field of science with other better supported and established fields. Never the other way around. When was the last time you heard an evolutionist trying to lend credit to his science by associating it with climate change science? Never huh?

    There is a reason for this. Evolution is supported by a mountain of facts and can on good grounds be considered to be absolutely true. Climate change is also true. Climate has always changed. Even antropogenic climate change is certainly true up to a measurable degree. Catastrophic climate change requires strong feedback effects that aren’t verified, and nothing more than hypothesis, in contrast with empirical evidence may I add. There is no evidence that more water vapour in the atmosphere will lead to a higher temperature. It may or may not. There are many indications, not to meantion peer rewieved publications that contradicts this hypothesis. No such thing can be found in the field of evolution. And there are other dimensions to the issue. Would we want to save some coastal lines and 100 persons killing millions by refusing them access to electricity and transportation?

    As long as people find it neccessary to lend credit to the climate change science from other fields, I interpret it as if the science isn’t strong enough to stand it’s own ground. As I started out, this was popular a couple of years ago but has dissapeared since it became somehow obvious, but suddenly it popped up again. Maybe it was not the best of ideas?

    • In reply to #8 by Bengt:

      It has been observed that believers in catastropic anthropogenic climate change…

      Bengt, we’re accustomed to over-confident believers visiting RDFRS and expecting to impress us with their delusional rants or conspiracy theories. We’re always polite and someone will ask them for evidence, which is the sticking problem for them/you.

      Do you have any evidence to support your conspiracy theory and your consequently pious Denialism?

      Do you really believe that scientists do it for the money?

    • believers in catastropic [sic] anthropogenic climate change always tries to associate their field of science with other better supported and established fields. Never the other way around. When was the last time you heard an evolutionist trying to lend credit to his science by associating it with climate change science?

      I also don’t recall a climatologist saying, “if you accept evolution you ought to accept what we’re saying”. Can you source any of these assertions? Also, who “observed” this? Is it based on statistics, or a handful of anecdotes?

      In any case, the pattern of which things we point out are the baby people would throw out with the bathwater if they rejected other science, while sociologically interesting, is nothing to do with how well evidence supports a science. I have, for example, heard people pointing out (when discussing evolution) that people accept aerodynamics. This isn’t because evolution is garbage. Nor is ACC.

      Also, what’s this obsession with “catastrophic” ACC? The question isn’t whether the damage passes a bar you’ve personally placed. That’s actually irrelevant, because economists with climate expertise agree it’d be cheaper to prevent climate change than experience it. That “one number is bigger than another” argument is all one needs.

      Catastrophic climate change requires strong feedback effects that aren’t verified

      Actually, the only thing that needs to be verified – which has been – is the size of a quantity called the climate sensitivity. Doubling atmospheric CO2 adds 3.7 Watts per square metre in radiative forcing; the sensitivity is defined as however much warming that forcing causes (which is independent of its cause, for obvious reasons). The size of the climate swings in Earth’s past, among other data, tell us what the sensitivity is; it’s 3 K. You can use that fact to deduce the effects of human CO2 emissions.

      Incidentally, consensus deniers have a habit of conflating feedback-strengthened warming with runaway warming. To those people I simply say, “1+1/2+1/4+…=2″.

      There is no evidence that more water vapour in the atmosphere will lead to a higher temperature

      Yes, there is; water is a greenhouse gas. (There’s actually an algorithm for deducing which gases have a greenhouse effect, by the way). In fact, water’s greenhouse effect is so large consensus deniers sneakier than you have said, “CO2 isn’t even the biggest greenhouse effect; water is!” (The riposte is that what matters in this discussion is which changes in the situation have been biggest. Anything that warms the world evaporates more water, which increases how much warming it inflicts.)

      There are many indications, not to meantion peer rewieved publications that contradicts this hypothesis.

      I’d love to see what you’re talking about, just so we can see exactly what they’re saying. You might be referring, for example, to low-sensitivity studies. Here’s the thing; sensitivity estimates have error bars on them, and they’re actually fairly concordant, and you can make the error bars narrowest by including all data sets (which come from different considerations, by the way). We now know the most likely sensitivity fairly accurately; it’s about 3 K.

      Would we want to save some coastal lines and 100 persons killing millions by refusing them access to electricity and transportation?

      Those numbers are garbage. Rising sea levels could kill far more than 100 people, and asking for a mixture of more sensible electricity management and less CO2-producing energy sources (including in vehicles) won’t kill millions. If you can find any science that suggests taking action would cost more lives than it would save – a source which looks at all effects on each side, rather than just thinking about a single beach – share it. As I mentioned before, such a conclusion would be the inverse of the situation economically.

      I interpret it as if the science isn’t strong enough to stand it’s [sic] own ground.

      So is evolution garbage because of what is said about aerodynamics? This is not how you assess a science! You listen to what the evidence is (which my above examples prove you haven’t done) or, if you’re not qualified to properly assess it, you defer to the scientists. I know you don’t like hearing “as you do with” arguments (although you can understand not only why one would occur there but also that the examples you hear may be determined by which science is least socially contested in your part of the world, or which parts of science you personally admit to opposing). But given that almost all areas of science meet with your provisional assent if you don’t know anything about the evidence for them, your attitude to ACC is stupid.

      this was popular a couple of years ago but has dissapeared [sic] since it became somehow obvious, but suddenly it popped up again. Maybe it was not the best of ideas?

      What does “it” mean?

  6. In reply to #6 by rocket888:

    Today, we have more evidence that the Danish theory of climate change correlated with solar activity leading to changes in cloud formation is at least as good science as any in the field today.

    Your sentence is not backed by the link you gave as a citation. The link states that cosmic rays from the galaxy are important in the molecular cluster formation that produces clouds. They think it may explain cloud formation better than the previous explanation that UV from the sun produced the molecular clusters.

    If so, their research reduces the effect attributed to solar cycles on earth weather and replaces it with galactic cosmic rays. Do you have any evidence that cosmic ray intensity is rising? Would you like to cite the actual research that links current climate change to solar activity?

  7. I feel like I know this guy…he’s been around my entire life – I grew up on a regular diet of his great TV shows which were and still are the best in the world for quality…Imagine his shows without him or his voice ?…Americans you don’t know what your missing and you might have lost the opportunity to learn something from this great man and his delivery….by replacing him with Opera Winfrey ?… stealing his wonderful words…. that’s Insanity and an affront to pure quality….
    Its like replacing a Richard Dawkins debate with Tom Cruise so that the dumb Americans can understand him….What can’t you understand about David Attenborough ? he’s just as eloquent as Dawkins…even better in my opinion….

  8. Last evening I met a climate change denier.

    I’d been observing a group of chaps for much of the evening in the swimming pool; you couldn’t miss them.

    They were six portly, prosperous looking men, affable and outgoing towards one another, but when they came into the shower afterwards it soon became clear which of them was the alpha male.

    Then, in the changing room the subject of CC came up, and at that, a clear division between them became apparent with alpha man suddenly outside the circle.

    Up until then he’d been dominating the conversation, but when he said he thought climate change was a myth there was a palpable shift in the atmosphere.

    A moment of silence descended; and I pounced!

    My opening salvo dealt with the Nigel Lawson exchange with the scientist I’d heard a few days ago on the radio.

    When they all turned to look at me in silence, I knew that I could on thin ice!

    I started to list the techniques employed to analyse environmental data: dendrochronology, paleontology, geology, etc.

    Then he said that this has been going on for a long time – fifteen years – ; I went in for the kill!

    Long story short, it turned out that one of their number worked for an energy company and was pissed off with its conduct, which included building a power station in a nature reserve in Australia; which country he informed me has massive deposits of gas and oil which it’s trying to exploit; which brought us back Nigel Lawson’s motivation for recently visiting that Continent I think!

    Then, fortuitously, this morning this article turned up and motivated to scrawl this stuff.

  9. In reply to #10 and #14

    Len Walsh #10, do you call an observation of the very topic of this article a “conspiracy theory”? Denialism? I think that you give a perfect example of denialism, not me.

    Jos Gibbons #14, well I do recall quite a few posts suggesting just that. The most common trick is to view science which question the catastrophic, or antropogenic part with the tobacco discussion. The second trick is to try to place climat change science up beside other established scientific fields. I know for a fact that you probably are very aware of the uncertainities regarding water vapour and how an increase of clouds affect the temperature globally, both summer and winter. But you absolutely refuse to admit your knowledge of that fact which makes you a denier in the true sense of the word.

    I haven’t taken a stand in the actual issue of climate change. All I’m saying is that the kind of argumentation I run into, like here now is bad. I don’t find it convincing. It strikes my activism radar.

    • In reply to #16 by Bengt:

      Jos Gibbons #14, well I do recall quite a few posts suggesting just that. The most common trick is to view science which question the catastrophic, or anthropogenic part with the tobacco discussion.

      Mmmmm! Perhaps that’s because the deniers bring their arguments sourced from the same dishonest propagandists who spread doubt and disinformation about cancer research for the tobacco companies and from oil companies using the same methods!

      The second trick is to try to place climat change science up beside other established scientific fields.

      Perhaps because the same laws of science and reseach methods, apply to all fields of science!

      I know for a fact that you probably are very aware of the uncertainities regarding water vapour and how an increase of clouds affect the temperature globally, both summer and winter.

      So does every muppet who copied that from the denialist websites, who themselves cherry-picked it from the words “low confidence” in that very small section on clouds of the IPCC report, – and then tried to pretend that it could be applied to numerous areas of high confidence.

      But you absolutely refuse to admit your knowledge of that fact which makes you a denier in the true sense of the word.

      Perhaps you could look at this earlier discussion, and learn something from JOS and the expert educational links he has provided.

      http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/642733-why-the-laws-of-physics-make-anthropogenic-climate-change-undeniable – By JOS GIBBONS

      I haven’t taken a stand in the actual issue of climate change.

      Really???? You are disputing information from people who have studied the subject and claim that is not a position??

      All I’m saying is that the kind of argumentation I run into, like here now is bad. I don’t find it convincing.

      Perhaps you should study the subject and catch up with the 13,000+ (97%) of climate experts who do find it convincing , so you could then offer an informed opinion.

      It strikes my activism radar.

      Perhaps you should reign in your emotional responses and activate you science-study radar!

      The glaciologists have already used their ground penetrating radar and gravity satellite to calculate the hundreds of cubic miles of Greenland ice-loss.

      @8 – Catastrophic climate change requires strong feedback effects that aren’t verified, and nothing more than hypothesis, in contrast with empirical evidence may

      This is nonsense! The feedback effects are well evidenced. It is predicting what and when they will be triggered that is difficult, because feedbacks can add to each other and be sequentially triggered.

      I add. There is no evidence that more water vapour in the atmosphere will lead to a higher temperature. It may or may not.

      You can add whatever fiction you choose to believe, This is more nonsense! Water vapour is the prime greenhouse gas causing the warming as the humidity is increased by warming from CO2.
      You need to study basic physics!

      There are many indications, not to meantion peer rewieved publications that contradicts this hypothesis.

      Actutally there are 24 peer reviews contradicting AGW and 13,000+ supporting it.

      Would we want to save some coastal lines and 100 persons killing millions by refusing them access to electricity and transportation?

      You really need to get up to speed on low-carbon technologies, instead of making a fool of yourself with silly assertions like this!

    • In reply to #16 by Bengt:

      In reply to #10 and #14

      Len Walsh #10, do you call an observation of the very topic of this article a “conspiracy theory”? Denialism? I think that you give a perfect example of denialism, not me.

      Thanks a lot Bengt, although without your denialism I’d have nothing to illustrate why David Attenborough was correct to bundle your fundamentalist belief with those of others. Denialism is learned at your mother’s knee.
      Creationists behave identically to Denialists by attacking more rational posters with pretensions of science exactly as you’ve done here. Usually the same cohort they will occasionally quarrel or deny their natural affiliation with each other, just as rocket888 also attempted. Each of you deeply resent being associated with your intellectual clone, the Creationist. Both Deniers and Creationists imagine they have science on their sides and they share many biblical traits. They usually harbour common prejudices for example. Deniers frequently worship human eggs, imagining that they’re miniature persons.

      It strikes my activism radar.

      Creationists also imagine that scientists are out to get them. Paranoia is learnt at your mother’s knee.

  10. “How could I be so disrespectful?” he said. “No one wants to look at me.”

    And the first of the “new” documentary makers to understand this will clean up.
    Why we have to see some wannabe celeb talking into the camera and follow all their preparations, opinions and hardships truly baffles me. Nature is what the program is about!

    For 60 years, there has been a definitive documentary maker showing the world how it should be done and all we get these days are muppet presenters talking to the camera.

    Oh, and yes, well done Sir David for getting impatient at the silly climate deniers and creationists. You are an institution and should be standard watching for all school kids from 5 to 15.

  11. The article makes it seem like Attenborough has been quite subdued before about his position on global warming and climate change, but he’s already made at least two programmes specifically tackling the question: State of the Planet and Are We Changing Planet Earth? Moreover, most of his Life… series end with him stating that human activity has caused environmental destruction, and that we’ll lose many species if we don’t reverse our actions. I think he also discussed melting ice caps in both his series on Antarctica and the ice caps (Life in the Freezer and Frozen Planet, respectively). That said, I don’t think I’ve seen an episode in which he actually discusses creationism outright, though I think he’s responded to it in interviews (I remember one in which he draws attention to a parasitic worm that infects someone’s eye, presumably as a rebuttal to the notion that a benevolent deity made life).

    It’s a pity much of his recent television work has been broadcast on Sky channels rather than on the BBC, where everyone could see it. Some of the stuff on there seems quite interesting.

  12. Alan4discussion, You provided a link where only 24 peer reviewed publications “explicitly rejected” human caused global warming.
    I wrote this in my first post “Climate change is also true. Climate has always changed. Even antropogenic climate change is certainly true up to a measurable degree”. Where does that put me you think?

    In which context did I claim that there were contradicting peer reviewed publications? In the context of the effects of the feedback only, now didn’t I?

    I call some of you deniers because you are blindfolded by a political and idealistic worldview that isn’t appropriate for an adult. You deny not only the endless list of questionmarks for the “catastrophic” part of climate change, but also what I write in clear text. It fits my picture well of activism this charade of upsetness when someone just in humbleness raise a fair question. This behaivour isn’t new and didn’t come with climate change, and it never was right before, so I rest my case for the time beeing. I dedicate these last sentences to Len Walsh.

      • In reply to #26 by stuhillman:

        In reply to #25 by Stafford Gordon:

        A thought:

        If Huxley was Darwin’s Bulldog and Dawkins his Rottweiler, which sobriquet would be appropriate for Sir David Attenborough?

        His Beagle?

        Absolutely spot on!

        To borrow from Huxley : I wish I’d thought of it.

        S G

  13. I am very fond of Sir David and was brought up with him on Television during the 1960s. He is the one man in science that I have more then just a healthy respect for as it seems to me that he believes in the natural world and to educated people by providing proof of climate change and evolution. When the religious mob will not provide EVIDENCE of their fairy stories I tend to view their doctrine as completely stupid. America(I am talking about the mass) seems to be breeding a race that is backwards and will not allow thought and reason. I just wish that in about 20 years time there will be someone to take the mantle in his place and speak out about the idiots still believe in Creation.

        • In reply to #32 by Marktony:

          Or Alice Roberts?

          I have her “Incredible Human Journey” book and liked it enormously. I still haven’t seen all the episodes of the TV, though its clear she’s a “natural”.. I think she’s an increasingly strong contender.

          I do wish Liz Bonin would do more…It seems to me that some interdisciplinary documentary style programs using all these people might work.

          • It seems to me that some interdisciplinary documentary style programs using all these people might work.

            Yes, and I would include Iain Stewart – his series “How Earth Made Us” and “How to Grow a Planet” were great.

            In reply to #33 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #32 by Marktony:

            Or Alice Roberts?

            I have her “Incredible Human Journey” book and liked it enormously. I still haven’t seen all the episodes of the TV, though its clear she’s a “natural”.. I think she’s an increasingly strong contender.

            I do wish Liz Bonin would do more…It seems to…

          • In reply to #34 by Marktony:

            It seems to me that some interdisciplinary documentary style programs using all these people might work.

            Yes, and I would include Iain Stewart – his series “How Earth Made Us” and “How to Grow a Planet” were great.

            What a Fantastic Four! (Must fight the urge to put them in colourful Spandex. And no cloaks.)

            A documentary series on climate change in history and now. Its impacts on the environment on life and on us. Their four disciplines would come in very handy…

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