Okay, this is from the Daily Mail, but let’s assume it’s reliable. Backed by BBC One, David Attenborough wrote and presented Frozen Planet, a seven-part television series on the natural history of the polar regions. The last episode, “On Thin Ice,” is about how humans are wrecking this environment via anthropogenic global warming.
Guess what? Although the Discovery Channel is showing the show in the United States, they bought only the first six episodes, omitting the one on global warming. The reason is obvious, even to the Daily Mail:
A poll earlier this year found that the majority of Americans believe that if climate change does exist, it is not caused by humans.
Fifty-three per cent of Republicans say there is no evidence of climate change, while the number is far higher among Tea Party supporters, with 70 per cent saying the theory is ‘junk science’ pushed by groups with a vested interest.
Both the BBC and the Discovery Channel are dissimulating on this one:
A spokesman for the BBC said it would not make sense to force television networks outside the UK to buy the episode as it features 85-year-old Sir David talking a lot of the time to camera, and in many parts of the world he is not famous.
He’s famous enough for his shows to be shown nearly everywhere, and they’re always shown in the U.S. So what’s the excuse for not making the U.S. buy the show as part of the package?
The broadcaster refused to say which countries had shunned ‘On Thin Ice’. They said it wasn’t included in the main package because it features Sir David ‘in vision’ which would make it hard for other countries to translate into their own language.
Yeah, whatever that means. Need I add that Americans speak English too?
Discovery had dropped the full seventh episode due to ‘scheduling issues’, the spokesman added.
What a crock! Does anybody really believe that this is anything other than a television station bowing to potential political pressure? And this isn’t trivial, either—it’s the deliberate withholding of scientific information from the public because that information doesn’t serve certain special interests. It’s a travesty.
Attenborough has largely avoided politics to concentrate on nature, but when humans threaten his beloved planet, he speaks out. He’s done that before about population growth, and now is concerned about global warming. To present his first six episodes and omit the last is to leave out what, for him, is the moral of the tale.
I don’t urge reader action very often, but this is a worthy cause. I seriously doubt that Discovery will bow under the trivial pressure that a website like this can exert, but we should nevertheless make our voices heard. If you’re American and object to the omission of the global-warming episode, go to the Discovery Channel’s “Viewer Relations” page and register your opinion. You’ll have to enter information on three separate pages, and give your cable provider (since that’s required, make one up if you don’t have one), your phone number, and so on, but they do promise to reply within a week, and believe me, I’ll post their reply to my own comment:
I strongly object to your not purchasing or showing the last episode, “On thin ice,” of the Attenborough show “The Frozen Planet”. This is nothing other than your channel’s withholding scientific information from the public in the service of certain private interests. It’s really a travesty, as I am a biologist and want all scientific information, particularly when it involves destruction of our planet, presented to the public. PLEASE reconsider your decision not to show this episode.
Here’s what the show is about, and tells you when the “controversial” last episode will air in the UK:
The show cost an estimated £16 million and took four years to make and has proved hugely popular.
It examines various aspects of the polar wilderness over the seasons and follows the lives of creatures from polar bears and wolves in the Arctic to killer whales and Adelie penguins in the Antarctic.
It has been produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol in conjunction with the Discovery Channel and The Open University.
The climate change episode will be aired on December 7 at 9pm.
h/t: Josh Ozersky