Against Nature

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In 1997 Martin Durkin and his TV company Kugelblitz made a series for Channel 4 called Against Nature which targeted environmentalists, presenting them as "the new enemy of science" and comparing them to the Nazis. They were responsible, the series argued, for the deprivation and death of millions in the Third World.[1] [2]

John Vidal, environment correspondent of The Guardian, described the series' message as follows:

The list of charges is long: "environmentalists" put millions of lives in danger; they come from the same stock as Hitler and Goering; doom people to live in abject poverty; want misery to continue; peddle a system as pernicious as 19th century imperialism. Moreover, these "environmentalists" control the White House and are immensely rich; are backward looking; fear change; stop people using their resources; and are linked to xenophobic movements.[3]

Vidal sought to identify the perspective from which the programmes had been made:

I only know of one broad group which consistently uses this sort of argument about "environmentalism". The Far Right. In the US, the Wise Use Movement is linked to the militias and its members beat up environmentalists who they call commies. In South America and Asia, corporations and landowners spend millions killing them and bribing or influencing politicians against their arguments. Against Nature appears to peddle their line, yet C4 either can't see it or approves.[4]

Vidal's conclusion was understandable as the series provided a platform for a whole string of contributors from the far right, but those behind Against Nature were not the usual right-wing suspects. Rather, as Guardian columnist George Monbiot noted, the critical links were to a network then centered on the magazine LM, formerly known as Living Marxism, the monthly review of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).

Monbiot writes:

The assistant producer of Against Nature, Eve Kaye, was one of the principal coordinators of the RCP/LM. The director, Martin Durkin, describes himself as a Marxist, denies any link with LM, but precisely follows its line in argument. The series starred Frank Furedi, previously known as Frank Richards, LM's regular columnist and most influential thinker, and John Gillott, LM's science correspondent, both billed as independent experts. Line by line, point by point, Against Nature followed the agenda laid down by LM: that greens are not radicals, but doom-mongering imperialists; that global warming is nothing to worry about; that 'sustainable development' is a conspiracy against people; while germline gene therapy and human cloning will liberate humanity from nature.[5]

Other interviewees included LM associates John Gillott and Juliet Tizzard.

Channel 4 had to broadcast a prime-time apology after Against Nature drew the wrath of the Independent Television Commission, which ruled:

Comparison of the unedited and edited transcripts confirmed that the editing of the interviews with [the environmentalists who contributed] had indeed distorted or misrepresented their known views. It was also found that the production company had misled them... as to the format, subject matter and purpose of these programmes.[6]

Durkin's hidden agenda and controversial methods did not stop Channel 4 from making further use of his services, as Private Eye noted in February 2000: "What does Channel 4 do with programme makers condemned by the TV watchdog, the Independent Television Commission (ITC), for using underhand editing techniques? The answer is, er, hire them to make another programme."[7] Despite the damning ITC judgment, the programme was seen at Channel 4 as something of a triumph, and science programmes commissioning editor Sara Ramsden received high praise. Durkin was soon back with TV company Kugelblitz to make more science documentaries for Channel 4.



  1. George Monbiot, Crimes against Nature,, 26 November 1997.
  2. George Monbiot, The Revolution Has Been Televised,, 18 December 1997.
  3. This article by John Vidal, published in The Guardian on 26 November 1997, has disappeared from the web but is archived on a Friends of the Earth listserv in untitled form here, accessed December 2008.
  4. This article by John Vidal, published in The Guardian on 26 November 1997, has disappeared from the web but is archived on a Friends of the Earth listserv in untitled form here, accessed December 2008.
  5. George Monbiot, Living Marxism - Festering Fascism?, Prospect Magazine, Nov 98, acc 16 Mar 2011
  6. Against Nature, Complaints Report, February/March 1998, accessed December 2008. Also see Friends of the Earth, Channel 4 Savaged by Television Watchdog over Green Stitch-Up, 2 April 1998, accessed December 2008
  7. Private Eye, February 2000.