On the evening of Tuesday, 8 December, 1981, the UK’s only commercial TV channel, ITV, broadcast an hour-long documentary called “Warming Warning”.

It was among the earliest occasions – possibly the earliest – anywhere in the world where a major broadcaster aired a documentary dedicated solely to the topic of human-caused climate change.

The documentary, which was made by the now-defunct Thames Television, has sat in the archives largely unseen for a long time.

The viewer is shown a scientific paper published that year in the journal Science, titled “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”, which attributed the warming to rising CO2 concentrations. The lead author was Dr James Hansen, who has since become one of the world’s most prominent and outspoken climate scientists.


Stephen Schneider / Stanford University, US National Center for Atmospheric Research
Gus Speth environmental adviser to President Carter
David Burns American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Walter Orr Roberts atmospheric scientist
William Kellogg US National Center for Atmospheric Research
George Woodwell director of the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole / Woods Hole Research Center
Lester Machta Air Resources Lab at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Directed by Richard Broad
Narration Tom Vernon
Script John Gribbin

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