David Attenborough: upper-class warrior

Rich environmentalists would happily make life more difficult for the poor.

Daniel Jupp

If you are British and have watched television at any point in the past 50 years, you know who David Attenborough is and you know what David Attenborough does. Many people find it impossible to imagine a nature documentary without hearing his slightly urgent, curiously authoritative whisper – always expected, always reassuring. When you think of David Attenborough, you think of blue whales bursting out of the waves, gazelles being tackled in slow motion by a lioness, or huddled penguins moodily enduring a blizzard. For more decades than I have been breathing, Attenborough has been educating and enthralling us in equal measure with the wonders of nature and the precariousness and beauty of life.

But even as his constant presence on our screens turned him into a national treasure, few of us knew who Sir David was, or what he thought about anything (besides his devotion to the great outdoors). Like many others, I always thought he was a cuddly, genial figure with a nice mellow voice, who liked sitting next to gorillas. I am less in awe than other people about his televisual longevity. I think that making essentially the same nature documentary roughly 10,000 times is not an automatic qualification for sainthood. But I’m as ready as the next man to sit down for a relaxing bit of lion watching. So I’m grateful for Sir David’s efforts.

But the sad truth is that, in his twilight years, a new figure has emerged, a new light has been cast on the Attenborough legacy. He recently made a Corbynesque appearance at Glastonbury, tottering out from backstage to deliver a short, sharp lecture on climate change, the sad fate of polar bears, and the naughtiness of plastic. The Glastonbury audience listened carefully, of course. Sir David lavished praise on the audience for not buying any of the plastic that was not available to buy this year, and the audience roared with approval. It was an ecologically conscious version of ‘what a great crowd you are’, including a tactful failure to mention the several hundred tonnes of discarded trash that the Glasto crowd leaves behind each year.

Like Jeremy Corbyn or Channel 4’s scrupulously impartial Jon ‘fuck the Tories’ Snow, Attenborough has shown himself to be another elderly, middle-class man suffering under the delusion that he is an 18-year-old student radical. And Glastonbury was not an isolated incident, either. Anything a 16-year-old Swedish girl can do, Sir David has obviously decided, he can do, too. Forget the splendours of nature, huddling down close to a termite mound in South Africa, or watching a crocodile barrel roll its next meal in the Zambezi – Attenborough’s attention is now fixed firmly on the human zoo of politics.

In a recent appearance before parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, he compared changing attitudes to plastic to changing attitudes to slavery. He also complained that air travel was ‘extraordinarily cheap’. He called for prices to be hiked, conceding that this would hit the poor hardest. At the same time, he admitted that he himself travels by air ‘frequently’. The best way to ‘restrict’ air travel would be ‘economically’, he argued. So a man who has clocked up more air miles than the average African dictator is deeply concerned that your once-a-year package holiday to Spain is destroying the planet. If Attenborough had his way, a certain class of people (by coincidence, his class) would be allowed to jet around the world enjoying themselves, while others would be restricted from doing so.

Attenborough also seems to think that the British people must bear the greatest cost of green policies because our ancestors developed, discovered and invented more rapidly than those in other parts of the world. Britain ‘started the problem’, said Sir David, to parliament. ‘It was the Industrial Revolution that started here, based on burning coal.’ For Attenborough, the Industrial Revolution was a crime for which people who were not alive at the time must be condemned.

While Sir David observes lions, whales and penguins with a certain geniality, he doesn’t seem to extend the same warmth to his fellow man, especially the poor and working class. Like much of the liberal elite, he sees us as a species to be studied, guided, ruled, prodded and nannied.

And isn’t it revealing, when we consider the class Sir David represents compared with the class that will bear the burden of environmentalist measures? The rich will not struggle to pay more expensive airfares. They will not lose their weeks in the sun. They will not lose the industrial or manufacturing jobs that will be sacrificed to climate-change activism. They will not suffer. But we will.

Daniel Jupp is a writer based in Essex.

Picture by: Getty.

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Hana Jinks

19th August 2019 at 5:50 pm


Christopher J Ward

21st July 2019 at 5:18 am

The thing I find disturbing is fairly common: people accept his views without argument because he is trusted. I don’t agree with much he has said about climate because he is not an expert. It worries me that both Sir David and St. Al Gore are functionally illiterate on the subject, and influence many including the heir to the throne. I don’t air my views often but at least I was a trainee in the UK Met Office when the predominant view (in the 1960s) was that polar influences such as the Labrador current would produce a new mini Ice Age in the UK and the south of Englan would have a climate like Alaska. AS the CFO famously said: Climate is climate and weather happens.” QED

Martin Bishop

18th July 2019 at 9:34 pm

Ad-hominem article?

Jerry Owen

18th July 2019 at 11:12 am

Greta the great was wheeled out on SKY news last night.. with such experts as Thunberg and Attenborough it’s no wonder they don’t need science on their side !

Hana Jinks

18th July 2019 at 4:13 pm

I’ve been here long enough to be pretty shocked that you’d even consider taking me on.

E. Morse

17th July 2019 at 8:54 pm

David Attenborough is an “old man in a hurry”. Pity that his loved ones are unable to protect him from the pop-mediocrities who have seduced him into believing, to his detriment, that pretending to be a rock-star is in his or anybody else’s best interest.

At one time, he cared about the truth and facts. Now he professes that it’s okay to lie to the hoi polloi in order to achieve his aims: whatever they are. He pretends to care about Planet Earth, but has aligned himself to the neo-Eugenics crowd. Refer to James Corbett Report (click on the “climate” tag)… for an astute study on how the Oligarchy has hijacked the environmental movement in order to further their own aims of grabbing land, minerals and water; and also, controlling us–as Attenborough wants to do. I’d have more respect for him if he would criticize his celebrity pigs-at-the-trough whose obscene spending, waste and pollution would make Caligula blush.

In the final analysis, working and poor people are not going to go softly into the Oligarchy-cum-Attenborough’s good night. These hypocrites should show by example: 1/ refuse to fly on private jets; commercial airlines; and helicopters; 2/ propose consumption taxes on luxury items that the rich purchase, like there is no tomorrow, at rates to subsidize clean energy solutions; and, 3/ offer up themselves to exit from Planet Earth before the rest of us…since they hate humanity so much.

Felicity Eastwood

17th July 2019 at 12:56 pm

I heard recently that the generators powering Glastonbury were using red diesel, this info was given to me be a reliable source. Anyone out there know about this? If true will we see climate changers protesting there next year and super glueing themselves to said generators?

Jerry Owen

18th July 2019 at 11:10 am

I understand it’s full on wind power next year, I think DA is doing breathing exercises already for next years event…

Linda Payne

17th July 2019 at 12:25 pm

About time this old fossil became extinct

Hana Jinks

18th July 2019 at 2:45 pm

I don’t fark around, l can promise you. Once again, thanks. I’m pretty naive, and l may not have been able to see it.

Ian Davies

17th July 2019 at 11:36 am

Sir D should know better than most that there have been far more species that have lived in the past than are currently alive. They have been lost to evolution or through the earths tumultuous history, either natural or with random chance injected into that. Beasts far more grand than polar bears have been lost but just because we humans happen to have laid eyes on a polar bear they are now supposedly immune from any change.
As for climate change, is it changing, most likely as it has done almost continuously throughout history. Are humans contributing to it, probably. Do we know how much, I doubt it as it is far far too complex to model and anybody who says they can is lying, and are frequently caught out doing so. The notion that we can control it to within a few points of degrees as if by some big thermostat that we can twiddle is ludicrous.
Will we make any difference, I doubt it as the whole enterprise is latched upon as an excuse for leftist schemes to raise more tax and transfer wealth rather than a true desire to address it. Many things will adapt to a rise in temperature, including us. It appears there are more dangers in the state of the oceans and insect populations but this doesn’t seem to worry them as much.

Linda Payne

17th July 2019 at 12:29 pm

Good post; in fact I would like to know the science behind the claims of these climate change activists. On the television last night one of them was interviewed a middle class middle aged woman telling us ‘we have only 11 years left’; this reminds me of the end of the world christians who were convinced that AIDS was a sign of the second coming at least they saw some life after death, these people just do death

William Murphy

18th July 2019 at 9:30 am

Yes, I have seen Jehovah’s Witness science in full swing for decades. I recall a priest at my church circa 1988 telling us about the impending AIDS epidemic and how in ten years time we would see people with Kaposi’s Sarcoma on their faces in the local buses and shopping malls.

Then there was the BSE plague, where the mad cows were going to infect any number of the UK population.

And the Year 2000 computer apocalypse. This was a great little earner for me, as I was in Michigan doing Y2K testing which turned out to be totally useless. Around June 1999 I went to a lecture in a bookshop on the west side of Detroit where the earnest author of one of these Y2K scare books was lecturing us on how our cars might not start, the electricity and water supplies might fail, etc, etc. Seven months later his book and loads of other scare books were being remaindered for 10 cents on a table outside the shop.

The climate apocalypse nutters are more cunning. Y2K was tied to a specific date. Climate change catastrophe can be promoted for any future date which is sufficiently far away to guarantee a lifetime career.

Rick Sareen

17th July 2019 at 10:28 am

When DA travels in the front of the plane he is solving world problems ; when you travel in the back of the plane you are causing them.

Hana Jinks

17th July 2019 at 11:14 am

It’s incredible.

Puddy Cat

17th July 2019 at 9:45 am

It caught mt attention when Mark Rylance had a strop about BP. Was it Dominic (demonic?) Cumberbatch too who told is that they don’t need private money when there is a State that should be making them comfortable and allow then to stay in London. That in exchange for state money these people are never asked to tour factories and the like to regale the people that would really benefit from their great gift seems not to apply. As for Mark, whatever theatre he performs in, would he stop those from BP paying to see him? There is a split in Britain roughly drawn through academia and education on the one side and those that work in industry on the other. The former are paid whatever and the latter not. That one lot are in sinecures, job’s worth’s, and the others have to keep on showing evidence of performance improvement really does seem to show a class that honestly believes in money for nothing and your kicks for free.

Jerry Owen

17th July 2019 at 8:31 am

Great article thanks. Attenborough has how many PHD’s in climate studies .. oh yes zero, that’s right a man that has no qualifications on climate science is the man the AGW crowd clamor for, but then the AGW lot don’t need science do they !
This is a man that years ago said that the human population should be reduced, presumably it won’t include himself.
Upon the election of DT he stated ‘why doesn’t someone just shoot him’ .
For a ‘conservationist’ he comes out with odd views to say the least.
He is too old for telly now as he has started to dribble through his words an unfortunate sign of old age and possibly senility.

John Millson

17th July 2019 at 7:57 am

What an elegant piece of childish idiocy.

Jerry Owen

17th July 2019 at 8:32 am

Care to elaborate ?

Chris Hanley

17th July 2019 at 7:08 am

By means of the regressive television licence fee the peevish old misanthrope has lived very well off the people he apparently despises all his working life.

Jerry Owen

17th July 2019 at 8:35 am

He is a man that loves wildlife more than people , a disconcerting viewpoint but it is his none the less. However for a man that does as you say despise humans ( or the wrong type ) should his views be promoted as virtuous ?

Hana Jinks

17th July 2019 at 4:02 am

Don’t indulge them. Just green-van them.

Hana Jinks

18th July 2019 at 2:34 am

Pretty virtuous how you treated Wattie last week. You just descended to the rank of nazi-sniveller. You can be one or the other, but to be both invites trouble. You can’t stay on that rank, and you’re gonna have to work out a way to get off it.

Martin Bishop

18th July 2019 at 9:39 pm

What does “Green-van” them mean?

Hana Jinks

19th July 2019 at 10:47 am

Apparently that’s the colour of the van that collects the loonies in England.

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