David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves

Knowingly creating a false impression of the world: this is a serious matter. It is more serious still when the BBC does it, and yet worse when the presenter is “the most trusted man in Britain”. But, as his latest interview with the Observer reveals, David Attenborough sticks to his line that fully representing environmental issues is a “turn-off”.

His new series, Dynasties, will mention the pressures affecting wildlife, but Attenborough makes it clear that it will play them down. To do otherwise, he suggests, would be “proselytising” and “alarmist”. His series will be “a great relief from the political landscape which otherwise dominates our thoughts”. In light of the astonishing rate of collapse of the animal populations he features, alongside most of the rest of the world’s living systems – and when broadcasting as a whole has disgracefully failed to represent such truths – I don’t think such escapism is appropriate or justifiable.

For many years, wildlife film-making has presented a pristine living world. It has created an impression of security and abundance, even in places afflicted by cascading ecological collapse. The cameras reassure us that there are vast tracts of wilderness in which wildlife continues to thrive. They cultivate complacency, not action.

You cannot do such a thing passively. Wildlife film-makers I know tell me that the effort to portray what looks like an untouched ecosystem becomes harder every year. They have to choose their camera angles ever more carefully to exclude the evidence of destruction, travel further to find the Edens they depict. They know – and many feel deeply uncomfortable about it – that they are telling a false story, creating a fairytale world that persuades us all is well, in the midst of an existential crisis. While many people, thanks in large part to David Attenborough, are now quite well informed about wildlife, we remain astonishingly ignorant about what is happening to it.

What makes Attenborough’s comments particularly odd is that they come just a year after the final episode of his Blue Planet II series triggered a massive effort to reduce plastic pollution. Though the programme made a complete dog’s breakfast of the issue, the response demonstrated a vast public appetite for information about the environmental crisis, and an urgent desire to act on it.

Since 1985, when I worked in the department that has made most of his programmes, I have pressed the BBC to reveal environmental realities, often with dismal results. In 1995 I spent several months with a producer, developing a novel and imaginative proposal for an environmental series. The producer returned from his meeting with the channel controller in a state of shock. “He just looked at the title and asked ‘Is this environment?’ I said yes. He said, ‘I’ve spent two years trying to get environment off this fucking channel. Why the fuck are you bringing me environment?’”

I later discovered that this response was typical. The controllers weren’t indifferent. They were actively hostile. If you ask me whether the BBC or ExxonMobil has done more to frustrate environmental action in this country, I would say the BBC.

We all knew that only one person had the power to break this dam. For decades David Attenborough, a former channel controller widely seen as the living embodiment of the BBC, has been able to make any programme he wants. So where, we kept asking, was he? At last, in 2000, he presented an environmental series: State of the Planet.

It was an interesting and watchable series, but it left us with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Only in the last few seconds of the final episode was there a hint that structural forces might be at play: “Real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies, in our economics and in our politics.” But what change? What economics? What politics? He had given us no clues.

To make matters worse, it was sandwiched between further programmes of his about the wonders of nature, which created a strong impression of robust planetary health. He might have been describing two different worlds. Six years later he made another environmental series, The Truth About Climate Change. And this, in my view, was a total disaster.

It told us nothing about the driving forces behind climate breakdown. The only mention of fossil fuel companies was as part of the solution: “The people who extract fossil fuels like oil and gas have now come up with a way to put carbon dioxide back underground.” Apart from the general “we”, the only distinct force identified as responsible was the “1.3 billion Chinese”. That a large proportion of Chinese emissions are caused by manufacturing goods the west buys was not mentioned. The series immediately triggered a new form of climate denial: I was bombarded with people telling me there was no point in taking action in Britain because the Chinese were killing the planet.

If Attenborough’s environmentalism has a coherent theme, it is shifting the blame from powerful forces on to either society in general or the poor and weak. Sometimes it becomes pretty dark. In 2013 he told the Telegraph“What are all these famines in Ethiopia? What are they about? They’re about too many people for too little land … We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”

There had not been a famine in Ethiopia for 28 years, and the last one was caused not by an absolute food shortage but by civil war and government policies. His suggestion that food relief is counter-productive suggests he has read nothing on the subject since Thomas Malthus’s essay in 1798. But, cruel and ignorant as these comments were, they were more or less cost-free. By contrast, you do not remain a national treasure by upsetting powerful vested interests: look at the flak the outspoken wildlife and environmental presenter Chris Packham attracts for standing up to the hunting lobby.

I have always been entranced by Attenborough’s wildlife programmes, but astonished by his consistent failure to mount a coherent, truthful and effective defence of the living world he loves. His revelation of the wonders of nature has been a great public service. But withholding the knowledge we need to defend it is, I believe, a grave disservice.

 George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

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Bears’ dip in pool caught on camera in Sudbury

https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/bears-dip-in-pool-caught-on-camera-in-sudbury
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Sunday in Sudbury was hot. How hot? A momma bear and a cub felt compelled to take a quick dip in Vip Palladino’s pool.

Palladino, vice president of Palladino Honda, located on the 990 Kingsway Sudbury, said the bears used his backyard in-ground pool Sunday afternoon.

“Even bears need to cool off on a hot day,” Palladino joked.

Palladino said he was inside his house reading a new novel in his south end home when he heard his neighbour knocking on the door Sunday.

His neighbour asked if he knew he had two bears swimming in his pool. Palladino said no, ran to the window, but the bears had already left. Thankfully, his neighbour took some shots of the momma bear and cub swimming in his pool.

The bears didn’t wreck the lining in the pool and must had only been swimming for five minutes before they decided to leave, Palladino said.

Bears sighting, of course, are not that unusual here, the City of Greater Sudbury said on it website, the city said. The city’s website provides a link for residences who are curious to learn and understand bear behaviour, as well as take steps to avoid any encounters.

According to Ontario.ca, if you feel a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety, and either enters a school yard when school is in session, enters or tries to enter a home, wanders into public gathering, kills livestock or pets, and stalks people, you should call the local police service.

“Generally bears want to avoid humans. Most encounters are not aggressive and attacks are rare,” the province said on its website.

Non-emergencies should be reported to Bear Wise between the months of April and November at 1-866-514-2327.

Non-emergencies include bears roaming around, checking garbage cans, breaking into a shed where garbage or food is usually stored, in a tree and moving through a backyard or field, but is not lingering.

During December to March, contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry if you have a concern.

If you want to avoid bear encounters, the website gives you the following steps:

– Do not put your garbage out at night.

– Fill your bird feeders during the winter months.

– Do not leave pet food outdoors or near screened-in areas.

– Pick up fallen and rotten fruit off your property.

– Lastly, make sure your barbecue has burned off any food residue, empty grease trap and remove all dishes after eating if you want to eliminate any possible bear encounters.

If you do happen to encounter a bear, the website said not to panic and assess the situation as a sighting, a surprise or a close encounter.

“When bears are caught off guard, they are stressed and usually just want to flee. Generally the nosier the bear is the less dangerous it is, provided you do not approach the bear. The noise is meant to ‘scare’ you off as a warning signal,” according to the website.

Do not scream, turn your back on the bear, run, kneel down, and make direct eye contact. Also don’t try to climb a tree or retreat into water — a bear can swim much better than you.

School field trips to creationist Ark? Sink that idea right now

A view from the front of the gigantic Ark
Pseudoscience inside

John Minchillo/AP/PA

In a quiet corner of Kentucky, what claims to be the world’s largest timber-frame structure is hard to miss – a “life-size Noah’s Ark” that reportedly cost $100 million.

Called Ark Encounter, the 155-metre long “theme park” features stuffed creatures and a petting zoo. It opened its doors last month, billing itself as a family-oriented educational treat. That makes it sound like a good place for schools to send students.

Not so fast, though. The park’s promotional material also describes it as “a Christian evangelistic outreach intended to bring the Ark of Noah’s day to life,” which “equips visitors to understand the reality of the events that are recorded in the book of Genesis”. It is, in fact, a hard-core creationist extravaganza replete with pseudoscience. It is no place for field trips.

But that hasn’t stopped its founder Ken Ham from urging publicly funded schools to come and take a look.

One of the exhibits inside the Ark showing a dinosaur-like creature in a small wooden pen
Inside the Ark

John Minchillo/AP/PA

Throughout the Ark, wordy signs, animatronic mannequins and strident videos all insist that it is no Sunday school tale, but a “historically authentic” boat that existed just as Ham and others on the young-earth creationist fringe imagine it.

Perhaps because of disappointing visitor numbers so far, it is offering reduced rates – $1 a student and free tickets for accompanying teachers – to tempt schoolchildren through its doors. Schools and parents should know that a visit wouldn’t educate or entertain, it would misinform and browbeat.

Publicly-funded schools certainly should not take their charges to the park. The US Constitution prohibits government bodies, including schools, from endorsing one particular religious belief over others. Ark Encounter is all about endorsing Ham’s particular reading of Genesis as the literal truth. The constitutions of nearby states, from which a trip might be feasible, echo that proscription.

Flood of misinformation

What’s more, everything in the park is designed to promote scientifically impossible ideas that contradict everything that scientists know. From astrophysics to zookeeping, the visitor is deluged with misinformation. It may be impossible to find a single sign in the park that is free of scientific errors.

To give a single example, Ark Encounter is founded on the notion that all the walking and flying animals alive today descend from specimens caged aboard a boat so unwieldy that it surely would have twisted apart in the roiling waters of a biblical flood. It is a notion that founders on the rocks of genetics, biogeography and naval engineering.

Just as pernicious as the scientific errors and the religious proselytising is a subtler form of indoctrination. The relentless message to visitors is that our world is as fallen and wicked as Noah’s, and that the destruction of the flood – including the obliteration of all humans other than a virtuous few – was not just acceptable but praiseworthy.

Under the pretence of illustrating a beloved tale shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, Ark Encounter presents a message as socially divisive as it is scientifically inaccurate, instilling fear, hatred and hopelessness. Those are lessons no school or parent should want their students or children to take on board.

Mankind has eaten into its year supply of natural resources – in just seven months

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/mankind-has-eaten-into-its-year-supply-of-natural-resources-%e2%80%93-in-just-seven-months/ar-BBvm0WW?ocid=spartandhp

Harry Cockburn 20 hrs ago
Logging machinery sits in a pine plantation in Angol city, south of Chile, June 8, 2016.© REUTERS/Gram Slattery Logging machinery sits in a pine plantation in Angol city, south of Chile, June 8, 2016. Humans have used up a full year’s worth of Earth’s ecological resources in just over seven months, its fastest rate ever, according to an annual environmental report.

“Earth overshoot day”, marks the date at which humanity’s demand on the planet exceeds that which it can regenerate in a year. This year it will fall on Monday 8 August, its earliest date yet.

Earth overshoot day is calculated by the international think tank Global Footprint Network, which measures the world’s demand for resources against ecosystems’ ability to supply them.

The organisation uses United Nations data on thousands of economic sectors, including the energy industry, transport, fisheries and forestry, and calculates the number of days of the year the earth is able to provide resources for humanity’s ecological footprint.

The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot.

According to the network, greenhouse gas emissions are the largest and fastest-growing environmental impact, accounting for 60 per cent of humanity’s entire ecological footprint.

“We continue to grow our ecological debt,” Pascal Canfin of WWF, told AFP in response to the annual update.

“From Monday August 8, we will be living on credit because in eight months we would have consumed the natural capital that our planet can renew in a year,” he added.

In 1993, Earth overshoot day fell on October 21. In 2003 it fell on September 22 and last year on August 13.

Back in the 1960s, humans only used about three-quarters of the earth’s annual replaceable resources.

But since the 1970s, economic and population booms combined with modern consumer demands have meant the planet has subsequently been in annual overshoot.

However, the speed at which we are depleting resources has dropped, the network said.

In a statement, Global Footprint Network said: “The rate at which Earth Overshoot Day has moved up on the calendar has slowed to less than one day a year on average over the past five years, compared to an average of three days a year since the overshoot began in the 1970s.”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/mankind-has-eaten-into-its-year-supply-of-natural-resources-%e2%80%93-in-just-seven-months/ar-BBvm0WW?ocid=spartandhp

 

These Sloths Need Our Help Immediately!!

Shocking news broke two days ago that the Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica has allegedly been mishandling, abusing, and otherwise neglecting sloths. Further, the “sanctuary” has been confining sloths in small pens and using them for photo opportunities, rather than rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild.

Click here and sign our petition today demanding the Costa Rican government investigate the allegations made by the Sloth Sanctuary’s former veterinarians. 

Only the Costa Rican government can intervene and assist in the rehabilitation and release of the animals currently confined at the Sloth Sanctuary compound. They must take immediate action to ensure the health and well-being of the ever-increasing number of sloths that are captive there.

Please sign today and demand the Costa Rican government take action!

For the animals,
Carrie LeBlanc, M.A.
Executive Director
CompassionWorks International

Poe on a Mountaintop

 

Excerpt from “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains” by Edgar Allen Poe:

…Upon a dim, warm, misty day, towards the close of November, and during the strange interregnum of the seasons which is termed the Indian Summer Mr. Bedloe departed, as usual, for the hills. The day passed, and still he did not return.

About eight o’clock at night, having become seriously alarmed at his protracted absence, we were about setting out in search of him, when he unexpectedly made his appearance, in health no worse than usual, and in rather more than ordinary spirits. The account which he gave of his expedition, and of the events which had detained him, was a singular one indeed:

“You remember,” said he, “that is was about nine in the morning when I left Charlottesville. I bent my steps immediately to the mountains, and, about ten, entered a gorge which was entirely new to me. I followed the windings of this pass with much interest–The scenery which presented itself on all sides, although scarcely entitled to be called grand, had about it an indescribable, and to me, a delicious aspect of dreary desolation. The solitude seemed absolutely virgin. I could not help believing that the green sods and the grey rocks upon which I trod, had been trodden never before by the foot of a human being. So entirely secluded, and in fact inaccessible, except through a series of accidents, is the entrance of the ravine, that it is by no means impossible that I was indeed the first adventurer–the first sole adventurer who had ever penetrated its recesses.

“The thick and peculiar mist, which distinguishes the Indian Summer, and which now hung over all objects, served, no doubt, to deepen the argue impressions which these objects created. So dense was the pleasant fog, that I could at no time see more than a dozen yards of the path before me. This path was excessively sinuous, and as the sun could not be seen, I lost all idea of the direction in which I journeyed. In the meantime the morphine had its customary effect–that of enduing all the external world with an intensity of interest. In the quivering of a leaf–in the hue of a blade of grass–in the shape of a tree foil–in the humming of a bee–in the gleaming of a dew drop–in the breathing of the wind–in the faint odors that come from the forest–there came a whole universe of suggestion–a gay a motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought.

“Busied in this, I walked for several hours, during which the mist deepened around me to so great an extent, that at length I was reduced to an absolute groping of the way. And now an indescribable uneasiness possessed me–a species of nervous hesitation and tremor.–I feared to tread, lest I should be precipitated into some abyss. I remembered, too, strange stories told about these Ragged Hills, and of the uncouth and fierce races of men who tenanted their groves and caverns. A thousand vague fancies oppressed and disconcerted me–fancies more distressing because vague. Very suddenly my attention was arrested by the loud beating of a drum.

“My amazement was, of course, extreme. A drum in these hills was a thing unknown. I could not have been more surprised at the sound of the trump of an Archangel. But a new still more astounding source of interest and perplexity arose. There came a wild rattling or jingling sound, as if a bunch of large keys–and upon the instant a dusky-visaged and half-naked man rushed past me with a shriek. He came so close to my person that I felt his hot breath upon my face. He bore in one hand an instrument composed of an assemblage of steel rings, and shook them vigorously as he ran. Scarcely had he disappeared into the mist, before, panting after him, with open mouth and glaring eyes, there darted a huge beast. I could not be mistaken in its character. It was a hyena. …”

(continued)



 

 

 

 

They’re getting out of control!

From John A. Livingston’s The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation:

“I happen to loath and abominate blood ‘sports.’ I think that killing any sensate being for recreation—for fun—is evil and contemptible. I have said so, for public consumption, many times.

“The most frequent theme in the resulting letters I receive is that I have absolutely no rational argument to present, and that as the result I (sneakily) resort to purelyDSC_0192 emotional appeals. Some of the mail, by the way, has to be opened with my asbestos gloves.

“An acquaintance of mine in the arctic town of Inuvik once said to me, ‘John, we’ve got to do something about all these ravens here in town!’ ‘Why so?’ I asked. ‘For heaven’s sake, man, look around you—there are so many of them they’re getting out of control!’

“Loss of control is the abdication of power. It is tantamount to chaos. The universe is orderly, therefore chaos is unnatural. …

“So, it is seen that the ravens of Inuvik (prospering on our garbage) are thumbing their amiable beaks at universal order and thus at us. …

“Death is the final sting, the ultimate victory of uncontrollable, unmanageable, immoral, chaotic nature—from which experience we are snatched at the final exhalation by the gorgeous rationalization. Spirit over flesh, man over nature.”

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

“The Sorrow and the Fury”

tiger_tween_alert

Back in 1980, the late Canadian naturalist, John A. Livingston, wrote the following on the loss of wildlife habitat………

 

There was behind my parents’ house a city ravine, with a little stream running through it. On one end, before the stream disappeared into a large pipe, there was a little marshy area where the water spilled shallowly to one side. There were toads and frogs and newts. If you lay very quiet in the grass at the water’s edge, you could observe them. The longer you looked, the more deeply you were mesmerized…possessed. There was no world whatever, outside that world…nothing beyond shimmering light on water, smooth clean muck, green plants, trickling sounds, flickering tadpoles, living, being. That was when the pain started.

The knife of separation is cruel. I not only remember in factual sense but I can feel to this day the anguished frustration, the knowledge that I could never—not ever—be more than a boy on the grass, excluded from that world wholly and eternally. But why? Why pick on me? I wished it no harm; I only wanted to be part, to join, to “plug in.” The denial was impersonal and cold and final. It had gnawed at me ever since—not all the time, mercifully—but much of it.

I wept over it, in a dogwood thicket. In the certainty that through no apparent fault of my own I was being unjustly denied something that was as fundamentally important as air, I felt much anguish at times. Unpredictably, of course, as it is with pre-adolescents, there would be unexpected moments of pure inexpressible joy and happiness when the “free flow” between nature and myself was unobstructed and open. Such moments always seemed to happen accidentally: why couldn’t I will them? Always there was a mix of sadness and pleasure. My early experience with nature was bittersweet; it still is. I rejoice in wildlife and I despair, in equal measure.

That is one side of it. Plans were revealed for the construction of a storm sewer through “my” ravine. Shock, dismay, and all the rest of it were mine early. The ten-year-old mind is not subtle: how can I warn the frogs and toads and newts? Can I get them out of there, take them away somewhere? They are defenseless; it is wrong to hurt them. What right do we have to hurt them when we cannot warn them? They don’t know what is happening, or why. There was much puzzlement here. All logic seemed to be backwards or upside down; nothing made sense. I could do nothing but watch, with sorrow and fury. But why the sorrow and the fury? What is compassion, after all, and where does it come from? And why do so many other people feel nothing at all? Those questions are as germane today as they were when I was ten. It seems clear now that, although there was no gainsaying the intensity of my emotion, my feeling for the wildlife beings involved, the sorrow and fury, were perhaps entirely on my own behalf, I was responding intensely because I was being impinged upon.

I think that through these moments of “free flow,” in the grass by the pond243beneath the dogwoods, the toads and the frogs and the newts and their hypnotic sunlight had been irreversibly incorporated into my world, literally into me. My world was being tampered with…Next spring I would have a piece missing, chewed out of me by the ditch diggers. The hurt was much more than resentment and sympathy. It was real, and I would feel it always.

…Despite repeated attempts, and despite even having heard and smelled him, and having photographed his fresh footprint, I have never seen a wild tiger. At this late date—meaning both my own chronology and the status of the tiger population—I probably never will. That is not as important now to me as it used to be, because the fortunes of the tiger are no less close to me for that. The tiger is already an integral part of me and his fate is mine. He entered me with the toads and frogs and newts.

 

Two Timely Retorts to Hunter Fallacies

Excerpt From: https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/top-10-retorts-to-hunters-fallacies/

5) If we don’t kill deer they’ll become a traffic hazard.
Two words: Slow the fuck Down. (Sorry, that was four words.)
More animals are hit by cars during hunting season than any other time of year, usually when fleeing from bloodthirsty sportsmen with guns.

4) Hunting teaches respect for wildlife and an appreciation for nature.
Ha! That’s like a serial killer claiming his crimes foster a respect for women. Tracking down and shooting something does not equal respect. Try using a camera or binoculars if you really want to respect them.

6-4Hansens-trophy-goat

Avid bowhunter/serial killer Robert Hansen

“If humans disappeared tomorrow, the world would thrive and prosper”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/morrissey-animals_n_7588034.html?ir=Entertainment%3Fncid%3Dnewsltushpmg00000003

Morrissey Says ‘The Only Perfect World For Animals Is A World Without Humans’

Morrissey thinks you are an evil pest, but don’t take it personally. He thinks all humans are evil pests, and “the only perfect world for animals is a world without humans.”

“If humans disappeared tomorrow, the world would thrive and prosper,” he wrote to The Huffington Post in an email. “Humans destroy everything, and for the most part they actively enjoy torturing animals.”

“The fact that the slaughterhouse or abattoir exists is the most obvious example of human evil,” he continued, explaining why he has used his platform to be a voice for animal rights. (Note: Abattoir is a fancy/Morrissey-esque word for “slaughterhouse.”)

Morrissey has been speaking out on the issue for over 30 years, if you count the February 1985 release of “Meat Is Murder” as the debut of his activism. He’s continued to spread awareness through his music and a number of collaborations with PETA.

“The slaughterhouse is the dead end for humanity, and as long as it exists we can’t possibly have any hope for the human race,” he said. “If you’ve seen abattoir footage then you cannot possibly think that humans are anything other than evil pests.”

Of course, this is not the most radical thing Morrissey has said in regard to the cause. In January of last year, he participated in a Q&A on the fan site True To You, inciting backlash when he compared eating meat to pedophilia. “They are both rape, violence, murder,” he said.

Now, before you, evil human pest, accuse dear Morrissey of ranting, know that you would be wrong. “If your views threaten any form of establishment interests, you are usually ignored or silenced or said to be ‘ranting,'” he told HuffPost. “I have never ranted in my life.”

The Huffington Post will run a longer interview with Morrissey after his June 27 show at Madison Square Garden. If you’re a fan looking to share why you love Moz or what his impact has been on you, please contact Lauren Duca at lauren.duca@huffingtonpost.com.