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« The perils of over-promotion | Main | An unbalanced panel »

Simon's Caribbean climate capers

The BBC really is ramping up the pressure on climate change. Having made my way back to the episcopal palace late yesterday afternoon I collapsed in a corner to catch up on my reading. Meanwhile, on the TV in the corner was Simon Reeve's Caribbean, a travelogue show which this week featured visits to Venezuela and Colombia.

I wasn't paying any attention until, towards the end, I was forced to sit up by the (perhaps inevitable) introduction of the climate debate. This centred upon Reeve's visit to the Sierra Nevada mountains of Columbia and an Amerindian tribe called the Kogi. You got a hint of what was coming when the first Kogi interviewed told the camera that her people did not damage the Earth (from 51:00). But it really kicked off from 54:30 when the same interviewee asked:

How can [you] expect us to live when you come from the other side of the world and destroy mother Earth so that multinational companies profit? ...river levels have fallen, the rains don't come when they should, crop seasons are changing. Only when this stops can life carry on as normal.

Cue Reeve giving us a little lecture on the perils of climate change, and how shocking it was to hear about the "profound change" that the Kogi were allegedly experiencing. This was apparently something Reeve was hearing "more and more about" on his travels around the world.

To round things off, Reeve took a group of the Kogi down the mountain to the seaside, where they stared meaningfully at a power station. Reeve asked them what they thought:

Before this was built, everything was normal. Building this here has harmed the Earth. It could kill everything here....Mother Earth is in pain.

You can guess the rest. So, if Reeve gets his way it's a prehistoric lifestyle and early deaths from woodsmoke inhalation for the Kogi and perhaps a lot of other people too. But lots of picturesque destitution for him to coo over.

And if anyone should think that Reeve actually believed any of the stuff he was spouting to camera, this Twitter exchange should clarify things:





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Reader Comments (88)

And art is long.

Mar 30, 2015 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

You should not be surprised. He has form. There are examples to be found on his earlier BBC series travelling along the equator and the line of the tropic of Capricorn (or was it Cancer - I forget?). The BBC is now in full-on propaganda mode.

Mar 30, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I wonder how many of the Kogi disagree with those he interviewed.

Mar 30, 2015 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Leading, as I do in my dotage, a rather sheltered life, I had never heard of this person.
On looking him up it appears he is on the "council of ambassadors for wwf"

End of story.

Mar 30, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

I have to wonder how many people fall for the nobility of the native meme. Put any small group of people in a huge forest and they'll have minimal impact but reduce their natural mortality and the only way is up. At some point any growing population stops being in harmony with nature and starts dominating it. Modern techniques actually keep that impact down. That some populations around the world are more primitive than others doesn't make them better. Pick any community like this and you'll find all sorts of nasty behaviours that Simon Reeve and his ilk will gloss over. eg A native tribesman with rare bird feathers in his headress is in touch with the traditions of his ancestors but a race goer with a fancy hat is pillaging the Earth.

As for these people being able to attribute climate changes to man. Spehericals. Which is what I'd like to suspend hypocrites like Reeve from for flying round the planet on our money and then lecturing us.

Mar 30, 2015 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I cannot help think that the Mr Goodrich above is taking the piss....

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Again with the noble savage meme that said nob sav must be filled with ineffable wisdom. How about, nob sav is a nit wit, thats why he's hanging around in a loin cloth in the woods when the rest of us live comfortably in the 'burbs?

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

When I watch Simon Reeve, Brian Cox, and other BBC green zombies, I wonder why I keep on living. Does being a BBC presenter require a lobotomy?

Depressing is the word I would use especially as it is all paid for by the public!

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I tried to watch Reeve on his Tropic of Capricorn caper (pun intended). After enduring the first, I gave up – Steve Irwin he ain’t; political propagandist he is.

Mr Goodrich: hold your desire; for a start, you will not get anywhere close to the level of income or support that Reeve has for his wanderings. You might also be sorely disillusioned.

Bill: the nit-wits do seem to be in the ascendancy, at the moment.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Oxygen is too plentiful.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

The Kogi have been saying this ever since Pizarro passed by - and probably before that.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I wondered if Mr. Read rowed his way there, or perhaps, swam?
The hypocrisy of these people makes my blood boil. Everything on the BBC, these days, has the climate change "message" somewhere.

Where did it all start? I don't remember as a child, or in my youth, hearing about climate change, yet is certainly was changing, in much the same way as it always did, is now, and always will.

It appears, merely, to be a tool for those who would control us, and who spout improbable doom-laden portents (none of which ever seem to come to pass, and which, frankly are mostly ludicrous), which we, allegedly have brought upon ourselves, and which, by returning to the Dark Ages, only we can ameliorate.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

I'm currently watching Simon as he wanders about Australia, raising every sort of outrageous claim about climate change. Apparently we 'love dirty coal' and of course out came the 'worst emitters of CO2 in the world'. We then had him haranguing a scientist who was getting paid to investigate climate change, into agreeing that climate change means worse bushfires.
No mention of the countless Greenie councils who have stopped back burning of forests and bush for years, allowing increasing fuel loads to build up and build up.
He's now lecturing us about digging up our resources. I've done all I could not to smash the TV in.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

Bill: To continue your 'nob sav' theme, I would guess that as Reeve was such a superior being to them that would make him the 'nob head'.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

The greatest contribution to the destruction of traditional native ways of life that Reeves is broadcasting is wealth western globetrotting "travellers". Like Mr Reeves himself.

His promotion of the Kogi as the next stop for the gawking masses is noted, but not by him.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Reminds me of Michael Crichton's State of Fear, where Hollywood airheads praising the noble savage end up being eaten by them.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

From Wikipedia ...

The Kogi people live largely in peace with their environment. They use slash-and-burn farming methods ...

Rather than a power station, Reeve should ask the Kogi what they think about a modern hospital. Or the airplane that brought him to Colombia.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

How did Reeve get the gig in the first place? I've never heard of him doing anything else, and Alan Whicker he ain't.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

did the Kogi check his time series for unit root loci, or was this just inconsequential anecdoting like with wimmin and cake and tea??

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMars Shmallow

Of course, "..destroy mother Earth so that multinational companies profit" is exactly the kind of phrase you'd expect to drop from the lips of a tribe of Amerindians who've lived in mountain isolation since the time of the Spanish conquistadores - isn't it?

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterA Libertarian Rebel

But never a mention of stable global mean surface temperature since 1998. Or that hurricanes, Tornados and other damaging weather events remain the same in number, more or less. Perhaps he will go an measure the ice levels in the Arctic and Antarctic. No, I thought not.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I have known about the Kogi for 30+years - they are firm favorites of the "Man is destroying the planet" crew (Who regularly make pilgrimages to Colombia), Frankly I'm surprised that they don't get wheeled out more often than they do. It may be that I'm wrong - but I thought the the Kogi were fond of the local marching powder - which might explain their popularity with BBC types.

If I recall correctly scratching the surface of their belief system yields some much whackier beliefs - as ever when BBC folk are out and about selective quoting is everything and context is missing - without trace. There are tribes who've barely progressed beyond the binary system of counting as in they go one, two and have several words for "many". This isn't intended to demean them - it works for them...

A bit further south one can still see the remains of Fordlandia which jungle is re-covering as it does the vast majority of human endeavours in those sorts of place - examples abound.

It is hackneyed selective quoting - like The Sierra Club's touting of Chief Seattle's words

If Simon admires them and likes it there enough to - let's say - live there for a few years ... well one might pay a bit more attention - as it is, this sort of highly selective interpretation of the "mountain sages" is more to do with what's going on in trendy Hampstead (and Guardian reader weekend sofa slouching) than the Andes.

It's of note that Simon is something of a specialist in terrorism / "psy-war" - ( Amazon book link I've not read the book - it would seem that he's (selectively?) not giving much prominence to an event that has shaped much modern Islamism The Siege of Mecca in 1979 (excellent book here) which in some accounts killed more folk (from more countries) than the World Trade Centre attacks....

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Not long to wait now for the spectacle of James Watt and Thomas Newcomen being burnt in effigy while hordes of Greens dance in glee waving paper windmills.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Geckko
I was going to post something similar. That encouraging people to travel the world goes a long to destroying ancient cultures and, if you believe CO2 is a problem, eventually destroying the entire planet. Sounds to me like travel reports like this give him a guilt free life traveling the world, with an added bonus of being able to lecture the rest of us with a far smaller "carbon footprint" on how evil we are.

Mar 30, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

No doubt foreign visitors to Simon's pages on the BBC web site are treated to advertising for Jungle Paradises .... I'd give 'em The Mosquito Coast - I would ...

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I wonder how much of this is coordinated by a politburo and how much is just the kind of self-perpetuating thing you get from like-minded people who see what gets accepted for broadcast and what does not.

What is certain is that Andrew Neil and John Humphrys are the last of the non-compliant dinosaurs left, and they are usually muzzled when covering greenery.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Simon Reeve's early programmes were quite good. But then he was obviously told by the BBC that he must include 'climate change' in every programme. He usually finishes his programmes with it. I'm not watching his programmes anymore, as once you know he is a propagandist you lose trust in anything he says.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

If he believed his on BS maybe he wouldn't fly so much around the bloody planet.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

The Kogi chap seems a shoe in for the job of Minister for Energy & Climate Change in the next Coalition.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterDung

It was very good of them to give up their time so freely, to state the BBC's chosen message.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I must admit that I would have been more taken with Dan Goodrich if he had tweeted: "Every Sunday @simon_reeve makes me want to puke"

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterDung

For those who can tolerate a 50MB+ pdf download, this account of visiting Kogi lands (p22 ff) reveals that they are surrounded by narcotraficantes (the Kogi are coca leaf chewers in the traditions of the Inca) and guerillas. For the history and description of the culture, W H Prescott's History of the Conquest of Peru is available free online, although John Hemming's more recent book "The Conquest of the Incas" is now regarded as benefiting from research that Prescott was not able to undertake.

Even the mystical writings of Thom Hartmann concede the role of Pizarro in the views of the Kogi.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Is this not just a manifestation of the great bbcgate indoctrination session of years ago which they tried to cover up?
Remember all those so called expert scientists advising them on global warming coverage.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

The AGW plug is usually at the end of BBC's documentaries. Not all of the potential markets for the purchase of these productions are quite so enamoured of the AGW meme so it becomes quite straightforward for them to lop off the last ten minutes or so and then fill in the time with adverts.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Nelson

"Dan Goodrich @DanGoodrich1

Every Sunday @simon_reeve makes me want to quit my job on Monday and travel the world"

Dan traveling the world its called Tourism.All thanks to Cheap Nasty Fossil Fuel and a cab ride to Heathrow.

Mar 30, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Did they go find a coral reef and drone on about ocean acidification with some sub 'O'-level chemistry yet? It's my entry on the 2015 predictions thread.

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Is anyone keeping a list of the BBC items that include climate change propaganda? It seems like a daily event to me.

At a time when the global temperature has not changed for nearly two decades, severe weather events have declined, not increased and the long term rise in sea levels is slowing, the enormous one sided coverage by the BBC can only be described as propaganda ahead of the Paris conference.

Perhaps someone with a bit of clout could challenge the BBC on this, hopefully publicly.

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The hypocrisy and stupidity of the CO2 Klimate Krazies will kill me long before any effects of CAGW.

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

While reading about the Kogi and the Indigenous peoples movements...

The Green movement seems to idolize the indigenous hunter gather eco-balance lifestyle as long as they rigidly conform to the ideals of the NGO limo-Jet Set ideal of indigenous hunter gather lifestyle which does not include meat and hunting.

Tribes call on world leaders to recognize their right to hunt - Survival International

Indigenous organizations and thousands of people from around the world have called on delegates attending a major conference on the illegal wildlife trade to recognize tribal peoples’ right to hunt for their survival.
Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, indigenous organizations from Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya and many other countries, and over 80 experts on hunter-gatherers, have urged delegates attending an intergovernmental conference in Kasane, Botswana, on March 25, to recognize that tribal people should not be treated as criminals when they hunt to feed their families.

Thousands of supporters of Survival sent a similar message to representatives of the EU, USA and UK, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

Dan you don't need to quit your job, just save up and take two weeks Summer Holiday .

Dan travel the world to to Magalauf or Ibiza or Thalaraki.
You wont see our Simon in these less exotic locations but you will see the BBC 3 "Sun Sex and Suspicious Parents"production crew following the typical rites of passage drunken happy hour fumbling antics of loud rowdy British teenage tourists forgetting their worries louging on the beach, out clubbing, kicking back and enjoying themselves.
Suggest you and Simon try it sometime.

Dan If you,re worried about your Carbon footprint from unsustainable Air Travel as Simon is and wish to to be an Ethical Eco Tourist then get Bachelor Boy Cliff Richard if hes not under police caution and drive the bus there.

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I feel privileged that I am able to fund, through my TV poll tax, a vacuous and patronising clown who jets around the world in order to lecture me about climate change.
Get rid of the

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Schrodinger's Cat, you are too kind and generous about the BBC.

The UK electorate have to be 'conditioned' to accept without questioning, that global warming is a fact, and a clear and present danger

This will make anybody opposing global warming action, a legitimate target.

The same people who question global warming, are also the same people most likely to question BBC impartiality.

To save the world, means first saving the BBC, and to save the BBC, means making anybody opposing global warming theory, unelectable.

Demonizing opponents for the good of the few, was fine tuned by both communist Russia and fascist Germany in the 1930's, so it is not political at all!

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie


I'd pay the BBC licence fee if Simon was sent to document the tribal rites in Magaluf for let's say a month in high season.

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Mean annual temperature in Colombia does not show any trend since 1960.

Mean rainfall in Colombia shows statistically significant increase only in MAM, by 6.8 mm
per month (2.9%) per decade since 1960. This increase is offset partially by decrease (not
statistically significant) of 3.1 mm per month (1.3%) per decade in JJA.

Rather than trust their projections though, I'd go with their warnings about them:

Inter-annual climate variability of Colombia is influenced strongly the El Niño Southern Oscillation
(ENSO). El Niño episodes bring warmer and drier than average conditions during the late wet-season
and La Niña episodes bring colder and wetter conditions at this time.

Model simulations show wide disagreements in projected changes in the amplitude of future
El Niño events, contributing to uncertainty in future climate variability in projections for this

Mar 30, 2015 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Mean annual temperature in Colombia does not show any trend since 1960.

Mean rainfall in Colombia shows statistically significant increase only in MAM, by 6.8 mm
per month (2.9%) per decade since 1960. This increase is offset partially by decrease (not
statistically significant) of 3.1 mm per month (1.3%) per decade in JJA.

Rather than trust their projections though, I'd go with their warnings about them:

Inter-annual climate variability of Colombia is influenced strongly the El Niño Southern Oscillation
(ENSO). El Niño episodes bring warmer and drier than average conditions during the late wet-season
and La Niña episodes bring colder and wetter conditions at this time.

Model simulations show wide disagreements in projected changes in the amplitude of future
El Niño events, contributing to uncertainty in future climate variability in projections for this

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I lost my liking for Simon Reeve when I saw him encounter a Vietnamese subsistence farmer who was carving a tiny holding for himself and his family out of the wilderness - in a zone marked as forbidden to humans for environmentalist reasons. "It's hard, it's really hard," quavered our hero.

As it happens, I'd seen Reeve himself plus family (I assume) just a week or two earlier in Devon: I imagine that he would have been appalled had someone dismissed the human value of himself, his wife and his child in such a tritely insincere way. This loathsome episode is (in my opinion) typical of the reaction of BBC and similar types to those who suffer so that said types can show off how sensitive and caring they are.

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterFen Tiger

This centred upon Reeve's visit to the Sierra Nevada mountains of Columbia and an Amerindian tribe called the Kogi. You got a hint of what was coming when the first Kogi interviewed told the camera that her people did not damage the Earth ...

We didn't do much damage to the Earth either when we we living in the Stone Age. Actually that is not quite true since by definition we would have damaged stones during the Stone Age. Just think of the damage done to the Preseli Mountains by quarrying stones for use in the construction of Stonehenge! Fortunately we did not exploit the world's reserves of stones so much once the Bronze Age started.

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Paul in Sweden, be careful what you wish for, otherwise......

The BBC will be launching a campaign to release breeding populations of tins of vegetarian corned beef into wild rainforest, to permit indigenous tribespeople to carry on with their hunting lifestyles.

To reduce industrial injuries, health and safety courses will be provided, for poor people, cultivating traditional narcotics, so no harm will come in their production, prior to being sold for vast profits, and massive harm.

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Old Goat: "Where did it all start?"

I think that is the fundamental question. It started in the 1970s and 80s when legitimate concerns about pollution from power generation/vehicles and not so legitimate concerns about limitations on carbonaceous fuel supply led the environmental movement to seek alternatives to those fuels. But a basis for publicity and a punchy mantra was needed, so they cast around and found a half forgotten principle developed in the 19th century that the CO2 and other gases could act as what we now know as greenhouse gases. The reason why it was half forgotten and a historical curiosity was that nobody really knew the significance of the effect. But to the greens this was manna and became the basis for justifying the elimination of carbonaceous fuels, which was the whole objective in the first place. So a whole academic discipline was created to study the subject and ensure the objectives were achieved. Academic rigor was not (and apparently is still not) required.

And so here we are - the solution found its problem. Meanwhile true environmental issues such as pollution caused largely by the oxidation of minor constituents of fuels have been largely resolved but now ignored because the oxidation product of carbon (or indeed, carbon itself) has become the great demon.

My concern is that, while I have huge respect for the work of Steve McIntyre, our host and many others, I think that battling the pseudo science on technical and academic grounds actually lends a legitimacy to the proponents of AGW. Perhaps it should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterseedy

"..destroy mother Earth so that multinational companies profit"

Isn't the BBC a multinational?

Mar 30, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

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