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PBS Still Pumping Out Hatred of Humanity's Negative 'Imprint' on Planet Earth



Some things never change. In 1990, PBS aired a gassy 10-part series called Race to Save the Planet, in which host Meryl Streep claimed we were about 10 years away from “enormous calamities.” Oops. 

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, they devoted a seven-minute segment to promoting the new book and Netflix series A Life On Our Planet by environmental activist Sir David Attenborough, who warns that “human beings have overrun the world” and are “sending it into a decline.” 

Setting up the segment, host Judy Woodruff asserted that his recent work “offers a grave and alarming witness statement about the crisis facing our planet.”

After opening the pre-recorded piece with footage from the film, correspondent William Brangham asked Attenborough: “You’ve increasingly talked about man’s impact on the natural world. But this film really hits this point very directly. Was it your sense that things had gotten so bad that that had to be the focus of this project?” And: “Was there a moment where you first recognized and said, I see it now, I see very directly the imprint that humanity is having on the planet?

Later in the piece, Brangham recalled Attenborough’s left-leaning recommendations for saving the world from global warming: “Attenborough argues for a rapid shift to renewable energy to sustainable agriculture, for a slowing of population growth, and for what he calls a rewilding of the land and the oceans to give them time to rebound.”

After Attenborough declared that he was pessimistic about the future, but noted that younger people are pushing for change, Brangham followed up by hinting that humans living a comfortable lifestyle are harming the environment:

Talk a little bit about the role that our own human complacency plays in all of this. We all love the benefits of our gas-powered cars and our air conditioned homes, and when we talk of a sixth extinction or global climate change, it’s still easy for so many people to put this view out of their minds and just keep on.

So is PBS recommending an end to gas-powered cars and air-conditioning? How about climate-endangering televisions?

Attenborough responded by claiming that recent extreme weather phenomena (which, in fact, are not unprecedented as he suggests) can be blamed on climate change caused by human activity:

You have faced disaster after disaster. You’ve got rising sea levels — you have cyclones, hurricanes moving through with greater ferocity and frequency than ever before. We (in the United Kingdom) see on our television newsreel coverage of appalling things that happened in your country because of climate change seem to be overwhelming. And it’s nice to say, “Oh, it was nothing — it’s just a passing” — it isn’t. And the statistics show it isn’t. It is a major movement that is happening, and your country and my country and the rest of the world have got to do something about it.

This episode of PBS NewsHour was paid for in part by Consumer Cellular. You can fight back by letting advertisers know how you feel about them sponsoring content that suggests their consumers are a blight on the planet.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the show:

PBS NewsHour

October 6, 2020

7:45 p.m. Eastern

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is perhaps no one whose name is more synonymous with documenting the natural world than film maker Sir David Attenborough. He’s been at it since the 1950s, and, in his latest book and film — both out this week — he offers a grave and alarming witness statement about the crisis facing our planet. William Brangham talked with the 94-year-old recently. It’s part of our ongoing “Arts and Culture” series, “Canvas.”

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (voiceover from film, A Life on Our Planet): The living world is a unique and a spectacular marvel.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No one has given us a more intimate or stunning look at our planet than Sir David Attenborough. …  But now, after a near 70-year career, he says we’re running the planet headlong into disaster.

ATTENBOROUGH (from film): The way we humans live on Earth is sending it into a decline. Human beings have overrun the world.

BRANGHAM: In his new Netflix documentary and companion book — both titled A Life on Our Planet — the famed film maker wants us to recognize what’s happening and to act before it’s too late. … Anyone who knows your work knows that you’ve increasingly talked about man’s impact on the natural world. But this film really hits this point very directly. Was it your sense that things had gotten so bad that that had to be the focus of this project?

(…)

ATTENBOROUGH: You know, you feel sitting in New York or London or wherever, you may feel, “Well, the world is out there and of course it’s interesting and theoretically we depend upon it,” but now it’s more serious than that. It effects every man, woman and child on this planet. I’m an elderly chap, and I look at my grandchildren and wonder what’s going to happen. And all I know is that if you see these things and realize what they mean, you simply can’t sit back and say, “Well, I’m not going to bother.”

BRANGHAM: I don’t want to leave people with the sense that you don’t address what you might do to remedy this, and a good portion of the book and of the film is looking at solutions.

ATTENBOROUGH (from film): This film is my witness testament and my vision of the future.

BRANGHAM (voiceover): Attenborough argues for a rapid shift to renewable energy to sustainable agriculture, for a slowing of population growth, and for what he calls a rewilding of the land and the oceans to give them time to rebound.

BRANGHAM (on screen): How confident are you that we will, in fact, move from these isolated examples to a true moment for change?

ATTENBOROUGH: I’m not in the least confident that we will do so in time. And I certainly feel, although the situation gets worse, I believe the world is becoming more aware of what needs to be done and to a much greater extent than only, say, five or 10 years ago. It does seem to me a worldwide realization of the crisis which we are facing, and it’s being spearheaded of course by young people. And quite rightly, too — it’s their future. But the kids of today, that’s their life, you know, and we owe it to them to do everything we can to make sure that disaster is averted.

BRANGHAM: Talk a little bit about the role that our own human complacency plays in all of this. We all love the benefits of our gas-powered cars and our air conditioned homes, and when we talk of a sixth extinction or global climate change, it’s still easy for so many people to put this view out of their minds and just keep on.

ATTENBOROUGH: But, actually, in your country is more unlikely for that to happen than in mine. I mean, you have faced disaster after disaster. You’ve got rising sea levels — you have cyclones, hurricanes moving through with greater ferocity and frequency than ever before. We see on our television newsreel coverage of appalling things that happened in your country because of climate change seem to be overwhelming. And it’s nice to say, “Oh, it was nothing — it’s just a passing” — it isn’t. And the statistics show it isn’t. It is a major movement that is happening, and your country and my country and the rest of the world have got to do something about it.



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