Tuesday, 20 November 2007

A Nice Green Leaf: Possible co-stranglers for Alan Titchmarsh required - enthusiasm more important than experience


I am not strong enough for real news on the weekend. I just read magazines on Sunday. I only get to the actual Sunday paper over Tuesday lunch. Somehow this seems to be the first point in a week where I can face all the bad news about global warming, the fall of the dollar and the pathetic wreck of Northern Rock.

Once I get through all the real news, though, I can always be deeply entertained by Hermione Eyre’s column. A few weeks ago she nicely described Alan Titchmarsh as currently “spreading across the TV schedules like Japanese knotweed”. Cutting back the BBC middle management is all very well, says Hermione, but while we’re there “can we also do something about Titchmarsh”?

I've always had a real problem with Alan Titchmarsh, especially since
Geoff Hamilton died suddenly of a heart attack in a charity bike race,
and Alan came back to present Gardeners' World. Feelings of irritation
started as, within weeks of taking over, AT urged us to plant seeds and
cuttings in peat-based compost. Geoff Hamilton was a one-man peat-bog
conservation campaign; it summed up Alan Titchmarsh as far as I was
concerned that he couldn’t even be bothered to preserve that little bit
of Geoff’s legacy.

On the other hand, I have dithered about whether to like Alan Titchmarsh
at times. I mean – what has he ever really done to hurt anybody? And
he’s so professional, and can verge on charming. Watching him calmly
talk his way through the complicated choreography of cameras at the
Chelsea Flower Show, as if he were just having a chat with his mum, I
was really impressed.

But Alan’s latest blatherings (re global warming) just make me fray beyond the point of no return.

“Now, I'm not one of those who believes Armageddon is on the way. It may be
something to do with my innate optimism, but I don't think I have my
head in the sand. Of course, we must do our bit to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions and control the number of gases we pump out into the
atmosphere, but our planet has warmed up before. There were warm
tropical periods between the Earth's many ice ages and mini-ice ages,
and they happened quite quickly. This is due, in part, to the fact that
the earth wobbles on its axis, and when it wobbles nearer the sun we
get warmer, when it wobbles away we get cooler. In short, climate
change is natural. The real news would be if our climatic conditions
remained static, but that wouldn't sell newspapers.”

Shouldn’t the man currently making his living telling us about “the natural
world” be taking a slightly more responsible position than this? I can
see that Alan Titchmarsh in private should be allowed to hold whatever
wacky opinions he likes. But he’s being paid by the licence payer to
talk about the beauty of Britain’s wild places and at the same time
contradicting (Oh it’s just Yorkshire commonsense) all scientific
consensus on the subject of looking after the planet.

The other day, he even went so far as to allege that nature would sort it all out in the end. 'We'll lose some, we'll gain others,' he says. ‘Wildlife is remarkably tenacious. Nature always copes.' Am I the only one who ends up wanting to strangle him?

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