We all want healthy air and to save endangered animals, but tone deaf journalists have no idea how deranged it sounds to hint that a global, human-killing pandemic might really be the key to saving our planet. Three million people are dead, but CBS This Morning on Friday touted “nature celebrating” as the world does “better” in the wake of the coronavirus.
The CBS crew interviewed naturalist David Attenborough about his new documentary making the same point. Co-host Tony Dokoupil awkwardly cheered, “That’s nature celebrating there. A new documentary reveals the astonishing way nature flourished as the world went into lockdown during the pandemic.”
In a clip, Attenborough enthused, “But as we stop, remarkable things start to change in the natural world. Clearer air. Cleaner waters. And animals starting to flourish in ways we hadn’t seen for decades.” Of course, when media types say “we stopped,” they really mean millions and millions died a painful death.
Promoting the upside to all the death, Dokoupil added, “You have long maintained that the wild, the wild on this planet will survive with us or without us. I guess during these lockdowns we kind of got proof.” Attenborough one-upped his interviewer, minimizing the human suffering: “Yes. Not just survive, [Earth] does better.”
On April 1, NBC’s Today sounded the same disdain for humans, trumpeting that “Earth got a break.” Talking to a University of Miami professor, reporter Kerry Sanders used the word “gift” to refer to the global killer that wrecked economies and put millions out of work: “Nobody would have wanted to see this pandemic, but from a science standpoint, the data you have collected is a gift.”
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
8:40 AM ET
TONY DOKOUPIL: That’s nature celebrating there. A new documentary reveals the astonishing way nature flourished as the world went into lock down during the pandemic. The Year Earth Changed is narrated by the legendary natural historian Sir David Attenborough.
SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: Overnight our lives are put on pause. But as we stop, remarkable things start to change in the natural world. Clearer air. Cleaner waters. And animals starting to flourish in ways we hadn’t seen for decades.
DOKOUPIL: I have two more examples in a non-David Attenborough voice from the film. With no humans on the beach, the testing success rate for loggerhead sea turtles jumped to 61 percent. That is the highest scientists have ever seen. And in San Francisco with car traffic down, white crowned sparrows are singing new notes. Researchers hope the bird will have their best mating season in years. Earlier this week, we spoke with sir David and the documentary’s executive producer, Mike Gunton about nature’s remarkable rebound. Sir David, I want to begin with you. I have a little piece of paper that says you can be called only David. But you’ll remain sir to me.
GAYLE KING: Yes.
DOKOUPIL: If you don’t mind. You have long maintained that the wild, the wild on this planet will survive with us or without us. I guess during these lockdowns we kind of got proof.
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: Yes. Not just survive, it does better. As you might imagine. Less noise, less fume in the air, more space. What more do you want if you’re a wild animal? So natural history of the creatures around us, they’ve flourished by and large this last year.
ANTHONY MASON: Your crews also filmed humpback whales in Alaska where the cruise industry was shut down. What was the impact, and what did you see with the whales?
ATTENBOROUGH: By and large, every animal has done better without us. And that’s not surprising. In this instance, the whales were able to communicate again with their young and much better than they were in the past. So the young could hear the parents, some distance away, and the parents didn’t mind going away, and that’s why whales have been doing very much better.
DOKOUPIL: Sir David, back to you. I think the lesson from this footage is that small changes in our behavior can have a huge impact on nature. That is the lesson. Do you think we’re learning it or have learned it as a planet?
ATTENBOROUGH: Biologists have known that all the time. By and large, men, human beings are the last arrival biologically out of this planet. And to sort of edge our way into it by pushing animals aside. We’ve only got to stop for a few months and suddenly the natural world will benefit.