Sadly a few weeks ago, shortly before Christmas, Professor David Bellamy died. Although few people born after 1990 can have much (if any) idea who he was, in the 1980s he was probably more famous than David Attenborough, and even Gerald Durrell, as a naturalist, scientist and conservationist. He was an important botanist and a major conservationist in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland, and probably the very first to highlight the importance of, and danger to, Irish bogs. He even boasted of having spent his honeymoon on an Irish bog! He had a considerable output in terms of his writing and TV presenting. Here is the cover of one of this excellent books in my own collection, dating from 1986:
David Bellamy was always passionate and extremely eloquent and he was also very easily lampooned and became a favourite of impressionists, especially because he had a slight lisp and an almost operatic method of presentation, with lots of Italian style gesturing. Fortunately he was possessed of a great sense of humour and wit. He was a joy to watch, and never boring.
However, despite all of these qualities he fell into disfavour with the greater environmental movement as it became more and more homogenised, and eventually, as it is today, dominated less by scientists and more by those involved in politics and social movements – and even by many who deliberately give the appearance of being environmentalists but are actually doing so as an attempt to control and divert public opinion.
Bellamy’s cardinal sin was that he disagreed that carbon emissions could be causing global warming to the degree of severity we seem to be experiencing, as the production of carbon dioxide (which plants feed on) should technically lead to an even greater production of oxygen, as carbon dioxide leads to greater plant growth. For every part carbon dioxide a plant takes in, it produces even more oxygen.
Whether you agree with this opinion or not (he goes to great lengths to explain it in his autobiography – A Natural Life (Arrow Books, 2002) it was a carefully considered opinion. He felt global warming as we are currently seeing it was due to solar cycles, and we are currently in one of great solar activity. Bellamy felt the greatest threat to the environment was the incredible rate of human population growth which has accelerated decade by decade. This causes direct destruction to the environment. The more people there are the more people will suffer at the mercy of weather and environment, especially with fewer resources.
Whatever the truth is, there is no doubt he suffered a degree of character assassination and his ability to communicate his ideas and opinions was severely curtailed for his viewpoint. It could be said he was practically silenced because of this dissenting opinion, which does not reflect well on the greater environmental movement as it exists today, which has become less like science and more like a dogmatic religion often driven by so-called ‘political activists’, some of whom are highly suspicious characters with equally suspicious motivations.
It is well worth reading what Prof. David Bellamy wrote, even if you don’t agree with his opinions. It is a shame his death, and more importantly, his life, has lately been so ignored when he had once been a deserving superstar of both academia and nature documentaries.