David’s life and career can be likened to a roller coaster: a continuous trail of ups and downs. Through David’s passion for knowledge and truth, he was able to establish himself as one of the world’s foremost experts in botany and ecology, but that same passion also led him to become shunned and criticized for going against commonly-held beliefs. Yet, in spite of the overwhelming problems he faced after speaking against the issue of global warming, David never once retracted his claim, instead holding on to what he believed to be true.
He used to be one of the most famous and respected scientists, and even after being presumed dead due to lack of television appearances, David remains optimistic about life. He knows that if something is true, even if people do not accept it immediately, they eventually will because the truth cannot be concealed forever. And so, in spite of all the trouble he endured, David continues to look forward, setting his sights on the reward of having people realize the truth.
A Young Scientist
David Bellamy was born in 1933 in London, United Kingdom. The son of devoted Baptist parents, David was raised with the values and principles of their faith and grew up comfortably. David’s parents had great moral principles, and served as inspirations and role models to the young David, who greatly admired them for helping anyone they could. David’s parents also instilled in him the value of telling the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be; this would later prove to be one of David’s greatest values, something that enabled him to go against what was commonly-accepted despite the consequences.
Even at a young age, David demonstrated his intellect by showing aptitudes for various subjects. When he attended the Chatsworth Road Primary, Cheam Road Junior and Sutton County Grammar Schools, he excelled in English literature and history, and received much praise from his teachers. As he grew up, he developed interests in the fields of botany and zoology, and often went with his parents on outdoor camps and trips.
Even at home, David began to explore what would later become his life’s work: natural science. In an interview, David recalled how everything he does now was inspired by his experiences as a child:
“I draw on my own childhood experiences. I can recall there being lots of butterflies in my family garden in London and lots of other creepy-crawlies. When we went to trim the hedges, we’d make sure we gently removed them first and it was amazing seeing them close up. I offer the same experience for children, getting them to build interaction and get ‘kissed’ by the butterflies.”
When World War II began, David and his family moved outside of London to avoid the bombing raids by German warplanes. David’s father was called for active duty, so only he, his mother and his siblings fled London to the safety of the countryside. The war did not stop David from learning, and he took the opportunity of living in the countryside to explore the wildlife.
Becoming a Botanist
After the war, David’s family returned to London and he completed his primary studies. It was around this time when he finally found his vocation in life (natural science) after being inspired by his science teacher to pursue the field. With this, David immersed himself in studying zoology, botany, chemistry, physics and zoology, mastering the subjects and earning much praise upon graduating from school.
Prior to entering college, David worked as a laboratory assistant at Ewell Technical College. Afterwards, David entered the Chelsea College of Science and Technology to study botany, and he earned his Bachelor’s degree with honors. David then continued his studies, entering Durham University for further study and training to become a botanist, and eventually became a member of the Botany department’s faculty in 1960.
In 1959, when he was nineteen years old, David married Rosemary Froy, a fellow student whom he met a few years earlier. Their relationship developed gradually and they soon fell in love. They now have five children, one of which was born while the other four were adopted.
When David was asked in an interview about his decision to adopt children, he simply answered:
“We meant to have two and adopt two. I wanted to adopt black children because as a kid I had to put half my pocket money into the church collection to help black babies and I fell in love with them. I love our multicultural family. There’s a book with all the details of their birth families but not one of them has ever asked to see it.”
Embarking on His Journey in Science
David focused on his career as a lecturer after he graduated from Durham University. Being a passionate botanist who was up-to-date with news in the field, David established a reputation as one of the most popular professors at the university; he also wrote and published articles and conducted lectures in and out of the university.
But it was not until 1967 when David truly came into the spotlight; he wrote an article titled “Effects of Pollution from the Torrey Canyon on Littoral and Sublittoral Ecosystems,” which was published in Nature magazine, one of the prominent eco-magazines of the time. During this period, David was working as an environmental consultant at the Torrey Canyon oil spill, and was greatly admired for his work to create plans to minimize the damage done by the disaster.
David’s success in Science
From that moment on, David established himself as one of the experts of ecosystems and wildlife in the United Kingdom. He began appearing in interviews and media lectures more frequently and even worked with the famous television station “BBC” to produce and present television programs on the fields of botany, ecology and environmental issues. Along with his friend, David Shreeve, he established the “Ford European Conservation Awards” (supported by the Conservation Foundation, an organization he also helped establish). Since then, he has written numerous books, all of which have been well-received by the public and the scientific community.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, David’s career continued to shine as he was offered more and more projects. In the ‘80s, David established a reputation as one of Britain’s most famous television presenters, as he appeared in numerous series and specials. He was also made the figurehead of the children’s book series “I-Spy,” in which a reward was given to those who completed the activities in the books and sent them in. To coincide with the release of the “I-Spy Dinosaurs book,” he even collaborated with Mike Croft and David Grosse to release a single titled “Brontosaurus Will You Wait for Me?”
In 1983, David sparked controversy when he was jailed for blockading the Franklin River in Australia to protest against a proposed dam that was to be built there. The following year, in August, David officially opened the first Voluntary Marine Reserve of the United Kingdom, the “St. Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve,” by jumping off the pier of St. Abbs Harbour into the North Sea.
Global Warming: The Issue that Changed Everything
Amidst all his successes, the issue of global warming would turn out to be the most significant of David’s career. It was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when groups of scientists that were concerned about how man has been treating the planet began to seriously bring the issue to the forefront.
Originally, David was among those who supported the concept that pollution would eventually destroy the planet by melting the polar caps and causing a massive temperature shift, thus increasing sea levels worldwide. In the book “The Greenhouse Effect,” David wrote:
“The profligate demands of humankind are causing far reaching changes to the atmosphere of planet Earth, of this there is no doubt. Earth's temperature is showing an upward swing, the so-called greenhouse effect, now a subject of international concern. The greenhouse effect may melt the glaciers and ice caps of the world causing the sea to rise and flood many of our great cities and much of our best farmland.”
David was passionate about solving the problem, and he focused entirely on this particular area. In fact, he was among the very first conservationists, as he said in an interview:
“I helped start conservation. There were no groups when I was first around.”
But as he conducted further research on the issue of global warming, David’s views began to change. By comparing the analyses he made over time, David began to see that the possibility of a new ice age may be far-reaching, and it would cost the world a lot of money to try to prevent something that will not happen.
From Pro To Anti: David’s changed views
David’s changed views on global warming eventually came out in 2004 when he wrote an article in the Daily Mail, a well-known publication, describing the theory of global warming as “poppycock.” In an interview, David said:
“Far from warming up the planet is cooling. The ice caps are actually getting bigger. Two thousand years ago, the Romans were growing red grapes on the Scottish border and we had another very warm period in the Middle Ages. There was less carbon dioxide being put out then so how can CO2 be the driver of climate change? I’ve seen evidence that says there has not been a rise in global temperature since 1998, despite the increase in carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere. This makes me think the global warmers are telling lies.”
David’s new stance on the issue of global warming was a shock to the scientific community, and his statements on how the global warming theorists were wrong resulted in an outpouring of criticism against him. The following year, in 2005, the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts replaced David as the president of the organization, claiming they were not happy with his new views.
In an interview regarding David’s replacement as president of the Wildlife Trusts, he said:
“I worked with the Wildlife Trusts for 52 years. And when they dropped me, they didn’t even tell me. They didn’t have the guts. I read about it in the newspapers. Can you believe it? Now they don’t want to be anywhere near me. But what are they doing?”
Rising from the Fall
David’s sudden change of views did not sit well with his supporters, and his career began to spiral downhill shortly after. One of the greatest disappointments he faced was being dropped by BBC, which resulted in him having no television appearances for the next eight years. Many of his former colleagues had turned against him, as well.
David said in an interview:
“My great sin is to not toe the line. When I started out as a university lecturer I spoke the truth and I would get torn to pieces. But afterwards people would clap me on the back and say, ‘Well done.’ It was all in the spirit of debate. I always thought scientific study and democracy were pretty much about the same thing—exploring new ideas and seeing which one comes out best.”
It was not easy. Throughout the next eight years, David faced tremendous opposition and persecution from the mainstream scientific community, especially from global warming supporters, but this did not deter him. In 2006, he joined the “New Zealand Climate Science Coalition,” a group of scientists who are trying to counter the commonly-held beliefs regarding global warming. The following year, David and his friend, Jack Barrett, wrote a paper titled “Climate Stability: An Inconvenient Proof,” in which they shared their arguments regarding the alleged doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Although David’s program ideas were consistently rejected by BBC for his claims against global warming, he still received comfort from those who supported his studies. In 2010, he was named the President of the British Institute of Cleaning Science, and has been active in the organization’s work to convince young people to help take care of the environment. In that same year, David also established the “David Bellamy Awards Program” to encourage the next generation to be active in environmental cleanliness.
Even though he has been away from mainstream media for the past eight years, he has still experienced some success in that time. In 2010, he appeared in an advertisement for the Churchill Insurance Company, and in the following year he made a guest appearance on the BBC television show “Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage.”
Today, David still faces great opposition, but he is confident that people will change their views over time. And, while he knows that the truth is not something people immediately come to accept, David is hopeful that people will begin to see the reality of global warming.
There are few people who fight for what they believe to be true in spite of intense opposition and persecution, but we should be thankful that these people, like David Bellamy, exist. It is because of these people that “traditional” views are challenged, which helps us create a better world for future generations. Despite his controversial views, he believes he is on the right track; as he says in an interview about global warming:
“I still say it’s poppycock. For the last 16 years, temperatures have been going down and the carbon dioxide has been going up and the crops have got greener and grow quicker. We’ve done plenty to smash up the planet, but there’s been no global warming caused by man. If you believe it, fine. But I don’t and there [are] thousands like me.”
Organizations and Programs Supported
- David Bellamy Conservation Awards
- The Conservation Foundation
- The Wildlife Trusts Partnership
- The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country
- Durham Wildlife Trust
- Population Concern
- Coral Cay Conservation
- National Association for Environmental Education
- British Naturalists Association
- Galapagos Conservation Trust
- British Institute of Cleaning Science
- Hampstead Heath Anglers Society
- The Camping and Caravanning Club
- The Conservation Volunteers
- Fauna and Flora International
- Marine Conservation Society
- Australian Marine Conservation Society
- Nature in Art Trust
- Living Landscape Trust
- World Land Trust
- Institution of Water and Environmental Management
- Butterfly World Project
- Tree Appeal
- Project AWARE Foundation
Awards and Achievements
- 1979: Received the “Richard Dimbleby Award” at B.A.F.T.A.
- 2001: Received the “Colin McLeod Award” from the British Sub Aqua Club
- 2003: Received the “Global 500 Award” from U.N.E.P.
- Received the “Diver of the Year Award” from the British Sub Aqua Club
- Conferred the “Order of the Golden Ark” by the Dutch government
- Received the Duke of Edinburgh’s “Award for Underwater Research”
- Conferred Honorary Fellowship at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
- Conferred Honorary Memberships with the BSES Expeditions and the Project AWARE Foundation
- 1999: Honorary Doctor of Science from Bournemouth University, United Kingdom
Express.co.uk (David Bellamy: 'Global warming is nonsense')
The Telegraph (David Bellamy tells of moment he was "frozen out" of BBC)
Hertfordshire Life (Interview – Bellamy’s Hertfordshire world)
Biography Base (David Bellamy Biography)
Wikipedia (David Bellamy)
Express.co.uk (BBC shunned me for denying climate change)