By Emma Dooney
David Bellamy was long considered one of the world's leading authorities on botany and the environment, until his unpopular views on the climate emergency shed questions over his credibility.
The English botanist, who died aged 86 in 2019, built a successful career as a TV presenter, scientist, and conservationist over the course of several decades—only for it to come crashing down in the space of a few short years.
Best known for his countless gigs on BBC and his impressive bibliography of books, David's reputation as a respected scientist was sorely tainted by multiple comments he'd made on global warming. He claimed that he was ostracized for his views on climate change in 2013, telling the Independent that his job offers "dried up" after he publicly rejected the gravity of the climate crisis.
"I was due to start another series with the BBC but that didn't go anywhere, and the other side [ITV] didn't want to know," he said. "I was shunned. They didn't want to hear the other side."
David's ideas on the climate emergency changed drastically in his older age, much to the surprise—and sometimes dismay—of his loyal fans.
In a 2005 letter published by the New Scientist, the environmental campaigner argued that the glaciers "are not shrinking but in fact are growing"—a claim he later retracted. He again sparked controversy in 2008, when he signed the Manhattan Declaration, which called for taxes to counteract climate change to be reduced.
His most egregious statement, however, arguably came in 2004, when he dismissed the climate emergency as "poppycock".
"From that moment, I really wasn’t welcome at the BBC," he told the Daily Mail in 2013. "They froze me out, because I don’t believe in global warming. My career dried up. I was thrown out of my own conservation groups and I got spat at in London."
He buckled down on this stance years later, telling Independent reporter Paul Cahalan in 2013 that he "absolutely" maintains the fringe beliefs.
"It is not happening at all, but if you get the idea that people's children will die because of CO2 they fall for it," he said.
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