Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Documentary films educate. They also misinform and manipulate.
Susan Crockford, in partnership with the Global Warming Policy Forum, has produced a 13-minute video examining UK broadcaster David Attenborough’s “escalating message of doom about the Arctic.”
This man’s careless statements about polar bears and other wildlife extend back to 2006. Because the nature documentaries he narrates are shown in schools and trusted by parents, Crockford says he may have “misled an entire generation of viewers.” More than that, he may be undermining the mental health of large numbers of young people.
Toward the end of the video we see Attenborough in full activist mode. He melodramatically proclaims, as environmentalists have done again and again, that “what we do in the next few years will determine the next few thousand years.” If we don’t take action, he declares, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
The problem here is two-fold. Terrorizing young people with prophesies of doom is downright cruel. Then there’s the negative, condescending tone. Despite being equipped with more technology, more access to information, and more affluence than any previous generation, Attenborough implies that today’s kids will grow up to be helpless morons, incapable of meeting life’s challenges.
Attenborough is 93. Older people are supposed to inspire the young. They’re supposed to encourage optimism, creative problem solving, and out-of-the-box thinking. But Attenborough’s Messiah complex gets in the way. His message is that everything will be hopeless unless we heed his warnings.
The end of the video makes it clear Attenborough is now linked to troubled Greta Thunberg. It’s difficult to watch Thunberg explain it was nature documentaries that ‘opened her eyes’ at the age of eight to the danger posed by climate change.
How tragic that traumatizing vulnerable, naive children is now a major part of Attenborough’s legacy.