So David Attenborough made it to the White House to talk about Climate Change, Nature and the Environment with President Obama. It was all quite polite, David is used to talking to people of high status, as in carefully and avoiding trouble. The President was equally polite, despite being unused to dealing with aged pensioners who worked in button factories.
But there was common ground left unexplored. The President's job requires him to send US troops to many places. One of the cutting edge formations is that of the 82nd Airborne Division. David would have been aware of them as a boy. They were difficult to avoid spending quality time around Leicester in the early months of 1944, before going to France.
During the period 1940 to 1945 the population of the town was obsessed by weather and climate, which may in part explain David's early interest. There were two reasons, one was the bombers, incoming German and then outgoing British, American and Allied. The other was food supplies. The margins were very tight.
When the 82nd left the area Leicester missed the men and they missed the additional sources of scarce supplies that seeped out of the American stores and eased the margins for many people. If David seems to be too much of a worrier about weather and sustainability he has memory of what it was like for people to be short and not knowing where the next meal might be coming from.
What he is also aware of is that since that time the world population has quadrupled and the pressure on land, water and supplies has increased. It has been astonishing that we have been able to provide for so many, albeit with large numbers left without. The question is how many more can we cope with and can we retain even our existing levels of supplies?
The issue of what climate change may be occurring and with what effect is debated far and wide and can be seen elsewhere. What we cannot avoid is that in history there have been catastrophic geophysical incidents that have had global effects on population.
Also, what cannot be avoided is the knowledge of the collapse of so many civilisations either urbanised or agricultural for other reasons. The President and David skirted these in their discussions leaving a vaguely academic feel to the discussion. It might help to persuade more people to take an interest but there is too much in the media claiming our attention for other things.
Another subject not touched upon is that of Grey Owl, see Wikipedia, who so impressed David and his brother Richard in 1936, and later turned out to be not quite what he seemed. Richard in 1999 made a film about him as a late apology. Also, absent from any media mention is the younger brother John, despite his abilities, might he have been at the Grey Owl lecture and had been less impressed?
My position is very simple. If climate has changed in the past, and on occasion radically, then it might do again or even will, we are only a lump of matter spinning about in vast space.
It is when and not if.