Watch Ross Gelbspan’s video on climate change and the fossil-fuel-funded disinformation campaign

And give him your feedback

UPDATE:  Gelbspan is responding to comments, so please keep them coming!  And enjoy this rare dialogue with a true legend of climate reporting.

Investigative journalist Ross Gelbspan has a new video out — and is very much interested in your feedback on it.

While I’ve been writing about climate and clean energy for two decades, Gelbspan is one of the main reasons I’ve focused so much attention on both the anti-science disinformation campaign and the flawed media coverage of global warming — two areas he has done pioneering work for more than a decade (see his website, The Heat is Online).

But what I didn’t realize until a recent e-mail is that I met him more than three decades ago.

Apparently he had been offered the editorship of a couple of small-town newspapers, and came to my small hometown to talk to my father about his experience running The Times Herald-Record.  So I have zero degrees of separation with Gelbspan.  Ultimately, he stayed with big newspapers, and for that we can all be grateful.

I wrote about his work in my book, Hell and High Water, which I have quoted many times on CP, most recently last week: “The non-blizzard of 2009 and why the anti-science disinformers try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather.”

Since he took on the fossil-fuel funded disinformers, he has been smeared by them, because, well, that’s what they do.  One of their favorite — and inane — targets is his role in winning a Pulitzer Prize.  As his website notes:

In 1979, the Boston Globe hired Gelbspan as a senior editor. In his capacity as special projects editor, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African-Americans in Boston-area corporations, universities, unions, newspapers and state and city government. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

The disinformers went after Gelbspan on his key role in this Prize-winning work — but I’m not going to repeat their character assassination here.  Gelbspan describes it on his website.

Watch the video and give him some feedback.  I guarantee he will see every comment.  Indeed, I suspect he’ll reply to some.

104 Responses to Watch Ross Gelbspan’s video on climate change and the fossil-fuel-funded disinformation campaign

  1. roger says:

    great video

  2. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Joe-

    Wow, great video, profound thoughts, I think. Gotta check out that website, at a minimum.

    I agree with most of what he had to say, and was profoundly impressed by his integrity, honesty, and passion.

    But I do disagree with him about carbon capture and storage, especially if that CCS technology was applied to biomass energy, as outlined on this link to the Wikipedia page on BECCS (Biomass Energy plus Carbon Capture and Storage):

    Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a greenhouse gas mitigation technology which produces negative carbon emissions by combining biomass use with carbon capture and storage.[1] It was pointed out in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a key technology for reaching low carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration targets.[2] The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppm decrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.[3]

    I hope that Mr. Gelbspan will follow that link, and read the article fairly and impartially, and without regard to past opinions on the subject.

    As the accompanying graph makes clear, with BECCS we could plausibly get back to 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 for only about 6 trillion U.S. dollars, at least when the study was done. I think that with effort and scientific focus, this transformation to BECCS could be done more cheaply than that.

    But the destabilization of the climate may have already snatched this opportunity from us, as Mr. Gelbspan point out in his video. We may need a carbon negative effort like this, just to stay even with the runaway positive feedbacks. Still, the ability to put several billion tons of carbon per year back underground is not trivial.

    One of the main differences between the scientific point of view and our everyday, perhaps instinctive human point of view is that scientists have to be quantitative.

    The math has to add up.

    All of the clean energy stuff and social and moral transformation stuff is good, but is quantitatively insufficient to solve the problem.

    To win this war we need some heavy artillery, and I believe with all my heart, sincerely, that our best heavy artillery in this fight would be BECCS. BECCS is carbon negative- it could take carbon out of the atmosphere, and do so while operating at a profit, displacing fossil fuel use, preventing methane producing decay of organic material, and providing electricity for transportation. These carbon negative aspects of BECCS make it our best weapon.

    We should seize the coal fired power plants, in my opinion, and forcibly transform them into enhanced efficiency biomass fuel with carbon capture and storage power plants.

    The economics of all this works out pretty well, in many cases, in my opinion, and even if it didn’t we’re going to have to do this to keep the climate from destabilizing, at this point.

    Biomass tends to be slightly cheaper than coal, in most cases. It is possible to transform biomass by carbonation into biochar, for long term storage and long distance transportation, at some loss of heating value, but at big transport and storage savings.

    Most coal fired power plants are located on rivers and lakes, for cooling water. The watersheds of these rivers and lakes become potential biomass harvesting and biomass plantation areas, and the rivers and lakes become easy gravity assisted transport networks for river barges of biomass or biochar from upstream.

    The entire Mississippi basin, for example, could become a huge biomass harvesting area and gravity assisted transport network for biomass or biochar transported to the converted BECCS power plants.

    I am in awe of Mr. Gelbspan’s contributions to dealing with this problem, and his dedication to fighting the fossil fuel company propaganda is marvelous. I hope he continues this work.

    But I ask him humbly, for the sake of the planet, not to dismiss CCS as a fantasy, especially if this CCS is coupled to biomass fuel sources.

    Quoting from the BECCS article:

    BECCS has therefore been suggested as a technology to reverse the emission trend and create a global system of net negative emissions.[2][9][10][11][12] This implies that the emissions would not only be zero, but negative, so that not only the emissions, but the absolute amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced.

    Please look into BECCS, Mr. Gelbspan, with the same energy that you have investigated fossil fuel corporate propaganda and corruption.

    On that subject, also, please note that the funding numbers that you gave are low by a factor of ten or so, if you count contributions to the ExxonMobil funded climate denier network by a few conservative foundations, including the Scaife and Bradley foundations. These foundations often seem to coordinate funding with ExxonMobil, and may in fact launder the money going to support this ExxonMobil funded information laundering network. The former database, now hosted at the Media Matters action network, provides a glimpse into the world of this conservative foundation funding.

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Luck to us all.

  3. gecko says:


    Just, please don’t marginalize bicycles which, as the embryonic technology of small vehicle transit with the potential to reduce global transportation emissions to 1% of current levels coincidentally providing for sufficiently adaptive systems to address the dramatic changes to come.

  4. Andy Gunther says:

    Mr. Gelbspan could provide more guidance to his professional colleagues regarding strategies to communicate these issues in an industry that is ever more hostile to real investigative journalism.

  5. Yo says:

    Great work as always.

    Suggestions: cut up into segments and name them, such as problems, solutions, etc. G

    MORE INFO in the solutions area — links or websites like NREL that are publishing reports on how to finance solar (one of the biggest stumbling blocks I believe); what other countries are doing — i.e. Germany has at least 5.7 GW of solar PV when panels only make electricity 11% of the time v. U.S. has total 1.3 GW of solar PV with average 20% efficiency (up to 27% in the sunniest parts) !! what gives? and it costs the avg German household $52.00 (U.S. dollars)/year! See IREC Interstate Renewable Energy Council

    Europe and Japan use HALF the energy we do because they re-use waste heat. see Sean Casten postings on or his website

    Also: consumer education, ability to know about and understand local electricity system — who owns, who benefits, what kinds of power do they produce? Need an OPEN and TRANSPARENT process so that smart citizens can get involved and change things.

    I have been watching from the grassroots and it’s amazing what one or two smart and committed people can do to change things very quickly.

    Maximize education through tools like Deliberative Polling, which uses an unbiased process to educate participants before they weigh in on issues like electricity generation trade-offs.

    Education; open and transparent process that allows educated particiation (basic info can be VERY hard to get, cumbersome process clearly has advantages for well-heeled utilities to crush citizens); process like deliberative polling to see what CITIZENS want — not just utility executives. MASSIVE education through customer bill inserts, public TV announcements; allow third parties to compete monopoly utilities.

  6. Bèr Sweering says:

    Great Video.

    However, I think Glebspan mixes two roles: the investigative journalist, who reports, and the role of supplier of solutions. Maybe it would be better to only focus on the first role and make people think. In this he is doing a great job, especially at the beginning. He stays more neutral and authoritative in that way. Solutions can come in a second run or by other people. In short: focus.

    We need more of these “wake-up” messages.

  7. Ken Johnson says:

    Mr. Gelbspan,

    Excellent video. I have some suggestions:

    My immediate thought was that a lot of the material could be excerpted almost verbatim in an op-ed for one of the major newspapers, which could help capture a broader audience and direct people to Second, it might be more engaging for the general public if you could overlay some images to dramatize some parts of the audio (e.g., billowing smokestacks, collapsing ice shelves). Third, while the level of detail is fine for climateprogress readers, I think a somewhat shorter version might be more effective for the general public. (Skip over topics like CCS, which most people have never heard of, and focus on a few high-level concepts.)

    The first part of the video focuses on the obstructionist activities of the carbon lobby, but I think this is only half of the problem. The other half is the inherent vulnerability of “economy-wide” policies like cap-and-trade to consolidated political opposition. The fundamental purpose of economy-wide linkage is to reduce costs, not just by seeking out low-cost emission reductions (which a carbon tax does equally well), but by deterring emission reductions beyond a predetermined, politically compromised target. For example, federal cap-and-trade regulations would deter and discourage state, local, and individual GHG-reduction actions, because any such GHG reductions within capped sectors would merely allow more emissions somewhere else. The policy rationale for discouraging additional GHG reductions is that the environmental goal has already been achieved, but in this context the “goal” is only compliance with minimial regulatory requirements — it is not climate stabilization.

    I think the public needs to understand the utter vacuousness of the concept of “environmental certainty” in the context of climate change. Without getting into wonkish details, they also need to understand the fundamental difference between the “least-effort” regulatory paradigm underlying cap-and-trade and the “best-effort” approach that will be required to seriously tackle climate change.

    The first of your three recommended policy strategies is “withdrawing subsidies from fossil fuels and establishing equivalent subsidies for clean energy sources”. You may be interested in the following paper, which outlines one approach for effecting a subsidy shift to clean energy:
    Johnson, Kenneth C., A Decarbonization Strategy for the Electricity Sector: New-Source Subsidies (Oct 13, 2009). Available at SSRN:
    (This paper has been peer-reviewed and will be published in Energy Policy.)

  8. Ross is a great hero–completely tireless, and deep into what by rights should have been his retirement years after an amazing career at the Globe. I remember how grateful I was when Heat Is On was published–there weren’t many of us then, and it felt very very good. On top of all, he’s a complete mensch.

  9. Chris Dudley says:

    The sound level seemed a little low. Could be a glitch at my end.

    I don’t buy the doomer assumptions and I agree with #2 that sequestration makes the difference. I suspect that biochar or assisted coral growth will be bigger contributers than attempting to store carbon dioxide underground but we can cut the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are not in the helpless state he proclaims.

  10. Jeff Green says:

    My impression is that the media lacks the will and the courage to stand up for what is needed on a world wide basis. The negative feedback from the carbon funded thinktanks have them stopping in their tracks wondering which wway to turn next. The social whole of the world does need to come before the miniscule interests of the carbon industries.

  11. Icarus says:

    Fascinating and informative video. My only reservation is about Ross’s view of a future of economic growth and prosperity for everyone – surely that is impossible, isn’t it? I freely confess that I don’t understand economics or the way societies work, but it seems to me that growth and prosperity must in the end rely on us exploiting the world’s resources, and that is what is getting us into this mess in the first place. It’s self-evident that we can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet with finite resources, so somehow we have to develop a society based on sustainability rather than growth, and I’m inclined to believe those who say that the world’s human population is already far too large to achieve what we would regard as a decent standard of living for all of us, in any long-term sustainable way. Here in the UK we only became prosperous by using up our own natural resources, and later by (effectively) stealing from other countries and making use of their cheap labour. China is doing the same now and is already buying up swathes of land in Africa to grow crops to feed their people – at the expense of the local people, as I understand it. If prosperity is about exploiting natural resources and other people, how can everyone be prosperous (or even just comfortable) on a finite planet of 7 or 8 or 9 billion people?

  12. Ron Larson says:

    This is to pick up mostly on the word “Biochar” in Leland Stanley’s response #2 above. I am afraid the term is misused there – to mean charcoal. Leland talks of consuming “biochar” (he means charcoal) for input into presumably electricity production and then capture of the resulting CO2 for BECCS. A site like will show that BECCS with its deep underground storage of CO2 is compatible with Biochar production, when using the CO2 resulting from the productive use of the pyrolysis gases that evolve with the production (not the consumption) of Biochar.
    I enjoyed Ross’ video, but think any later version should include the term “biomass” (and especially Biochar) as one of the suite of renewable energy technologies in addition to those Ross mentions. Indeed, worldwide it is already larger than hydro-power and much larger that solar, wind, and geothermal. Half the world already relies on biomass as its present primary energy resource.
    Respondent #7 Bill McKibben above has identified Biochar favorably, as must everyone interested in getting to 350 ppm (and lower) at all quickly. Ross’ site ( recommends the plans of Al Gore, who has included Biochar favorably on several pages of his new book. The third recommended groups (the PIRGs) include biomass as a renewable resource, as should anyone wanting more of the wonderful but intermittent solar and wind resources. No other RE option than Biomass can solve the dispatchability requirement – and thereby make the avoidance of fossil resources a reality.
    In sum, a valuable video, but one that would be better if it also addressed Biochar as a solution – the only really viable means of moving carbon from the atmosphere. The reason for emphasizing “viability” is the several-fold improvement in soil productivity in the several-milennia old man-made “terra preta” soils of the Amazon. Proof of effectiveness could not be better than that. Ron

  13. Leif says:

    #3:How can every one prosper? That is a key question with minimal discussion for its importance … A few thoughts:
    It does seem that cheap energy is a corner stone to prosperity the world over.
    For the world to survive the above transition that energy needs to be sustainable and preferably cheap.
    It is hard to compete with mass production and centrally located power sources but they have their drawbacks. They require large and expensive power grids, usually public funded, to operate.
    The earnings and profits tend to filter to the few. Not the many.
    There is the danger of terrorist disruption that must also protected and funded, either public or private. Further funding a privileged few with no real production to humanity.
    The list goes on…
    Local energy sources that can be maintained by an individual and profit to that individual should hold promise. A single large wind mill can be a ~$2,000 bonus per year.
    A small solar collector can support a home and perhaps two efficient homes in a pinch. Generating a cash cow. Perhaps not so much in our society at the present but think of the value if you could charge the neighborhood cell phones or run a few supper efficient refrigerators when the big power went down or unavailable as in many parts of the world. No major transmission grid is necessary.
    Money stays in the local community to be recycled again and again. Not sent to a central collection center to by congressmen who work against my best interest.
    Every available location with green power production will employ a lot of people both in production and deployment. I am not saying that there is no place for big power but that individual power production needs a prominent seat at the table.
    Quick and easy to get on line, Self maintaining. Micro financeable with lots of public input.
    I would also like to give a shout out to Cyclone Power Technologies. They have produced an external combustion steam engine that is well developed and shows promise in CO2 mitigation. They have just signed a contract with China. (I have NO $ or other affiliation with them.)

  14. Gail says:

    First, I would like to say I agree fervently with everything said in the video.

    I think, either we are going to descend into Joe’s Hell and High Water, or maybe, just maybe, we will rise above our petty quibbles and act together to save ourselves and our planet. Not likely, but a nice thought.

    I have a bit of a different approach than Mr. Gelbspan, who seems to have a low opinion of “environmentalists” and tree lovers (of which I am one). But not because I think there is some moral superiority, it’s because I think it is a better way to reach people and help them understand that we must make fundamental changes in our consumption and production of energy if we wish our children to survive.

    Climate change, or global warming, is so easily dismissed by those who wish to, because it sounds if not benign, at least far off.

    Tell them that the food they eat is going to be in jeopardy because toxic emissions from burning fossil and biofuels are poisoning it, and they might sit up and pay attention.

    I would like to ask Mr. Gelbspan, who is so convinced, I believe accurately, that certain interests have deceptively and deliberately led and financed a misinformation campaign to disparage the science of climate change, this question:

    Do you have any notion of how those same interests have deliberately led and financed a quashing of reports and intimidation of scientists about the lethal effects of the other greenhouse gases – ozone, acid rain and mist, nitrous oxides and other volatile organic compounds, not just on humans and other animals, but on vegetation and essential crops?

    Another point to emphasize I think, is the disparity between global military expenditures and the cost of converting to life-sustaining clean energy.

    Does anyone other than arms manufacturers and contractors, hired goons like Blackwater, and oil companies actually benefit from the military?

    All in all, an excellent video that should be disseminated far and wide, and I thank you for your candor.

  15. Anna Haynes says:

    First – thank you Ross Gelbspan for doing this. I’ve put forth some pie in the sky requests below.

    Who’s your audience? below, I assume it’s the sleepwalking (and sleep-deprived?) public.

    For optimal outreach, can you time it to be 28-29:10 min, and make it available in MPEG2 format on DVD, with an “air this please” Creative Commons license, so we can take it in to our community TV stations and ask them to show it?
    (Spreading it by email is good, but showing it to a semi-captive, likely older audience will give the highest ROI since it’ll be reaching people outside the standard socio-demographic.)

    Trying to put myself in the shoes of the target audience, I’d like to see:

    * a little more attention to establishing authority, conveying why the watcher should accord your words more credibility than the besuited Swindle folks (especially when their money is well enough laundered that they can say they’re not getting it from coal/oil)

    * Quick applied-epistemology & info-quality site tips; where to get reliable info online, where to find out how to counter the contrarians in one’s life.

    * More about what the (perhaps-newly-awakened) watcher can do, **effectively**, to help get us on the right track. “if you have 5 minutes today, do X. If you have five hours, do Y”. Priorities and actual effectiveness, rather than CYA personal-sacrifice symbolism. (What’s your take on the Tidwell “save the planet, stop going green” WaPo op-ed?)

    Talk about our (individual, and group) single-action bias, and how we can move forward most effectively in spite of it.

    * I found some of the “proposed solutions” stuff to be weaker than “here’s the problem” parts – partly, I think, because it seems so far from where we are now, with no clear path to get there, that we feel a twinge of hopelessness. Empowerment is better.

    * Celebrate our (other) heroes. Give us Greg Craven, his videos and his book, give us Hansen and his grandson Connor and their never-give-up fighting spirit, and Hansen’s “I did not want my grandchildren, someday in the future, to look back and say, “Opa understood what was happening, but he did not make it clear.””

    Give us Drew Dellinger.

    it’s 3:23 in the morning
    and I’m awake
    because my great great grandchildren
    won’t let me sleep
    my great great grandchildren
    ask me in dreams
    what did you do while the planet was plundered?
    what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

    surely you did something
    when the seasons started failing?

    as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

    did you fill the streets with protest
    when democracy was stolen?

    what did you do

  16. Tim says:

    I like it. But it strikes me as too long & academic to appeal to anyone but us climate wonks. Would be more impactful if, instead of just TELLING us, RG actually SHOWED us, with imagery, video clips, etc. Plus he mixes too many issues into the message. Better to break it up into a set of smaller segments. For example, a piece that really NAILS the carbon industry for its corruption and those it has paid off. Name names. Show the evidence. OUT the bastards! Second, the low-carbon future. SHOW us how some are already getting results there. Third, an entire segment on the security threats posed by CC, with quotes from leading strategic thinkers, military brass, & CEOs could help drive home that important message. Finally, the more profound message should be made more explicit and demonstrated with living examples: We are all One. Humans being as they are, if we’re told that it’s too late and that we’re all screwed, then few of us will choose to do anything about it. We’ll just party heartier. Negative, defeatist language & images simply disempower those who already have a built-in bias to opt for denial. If we don’t break thru that layer of built-in denialism, then we have no chance of moving people to action.

  17. Hal says:

    Iam impressed by his sincerity and the compact collection of facts and opinions and visions for the future. Although I agree with other commenters that he watered down the impact of the investigative journalism on the well-funded denialists by his proscriptions for solutions to the global warming crisis. He might have tried to do too much. then again, I am left with the question: who will watch this video? Will it ever be seen by those who don’t largely agree with it already? Will anyone who doesn’t agree be persuaded otherwise by watching it?

    Who will watch it who doesn’t agree with most of it already?

    What actions will be take who watch it that they would not have taken before seeing it?

    How can these messages be conveyed to denialists and those who get their news from Fox?

    I was depressed this morning reading the comments on an editorial in my hometown newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The Editorial was uncharacteristically favorable to the environment, defending Gov. Schwarzenegger against the flak he has been taking for his efforts to advocate for a strong agreement in Copenhagen. The vast majority of the 40 comments (as of this writing) that came in on-line from readers were all screaming denialists, raging against the communist conspiracy, the lying climate scientists, Rachel Carson, and anyone else they could find a way to associate with a strong position on the need for change to minimize global warming or protect the environment.

    My concern is how to outfox Fox and Carl Rove and Dick Cheney and all those who Gelbspan notes were oil and coal company funded distortionists. They seem to have the upper hand, and now the Dems, scared of losing the 2010 elections, are calling on Obama to back off on a cap and trade bill, something that will fall far short of what’s needed.

    Finally, check out Hansen’s The Temperature of Science at

  18. joe1347 says:

    Nice thoughts, but given the current state of politics in the USA and China – it looks like we’re going nowhere fast. Does anyone think that public opinion (on global warming) will change anytime soon unless there is a discrete event that can directly linked to global warming? The brainless frog cartoon from the other day is certainly dead on.

    The Senate and Climate Change

    moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

    And China throwing some sand in the gears

    23 December 09
    Did China Kill Copenhagen?

    The Guardian published an interesting and depressing article yesterday on China’s behind-the-scenes involvement in killing Copenhagen.

  19. Anna Haynes says:

    Immunize against the “let’s fix everything else before spending $$ fixing climate change” argument.
    (which, via Lomborg’s fixtheclimate dot com, has been popping up extensively as a Gmail textad; is there a way to find out how big this ad buy was, and how much it cost?)
    Or just give a URL for a webpage providing immunizations & the like.

    a p.s. re my above “[provide] info-quality site tips; where to get reliable info online…” – wouldn’t it be great if we could just say “use Google”, instead of having to warn people that Google on climate is as effectively anti-knowledge as the Wall Street Journal?

  20. Laurie Dougherty says:

    Ross, you’ve been a hero of mine since I first came across The Heat is On in a class at the Harvard Extension School several years ago. I heard you speak at a climate action day a couple of years ago in Brookline, MA, where we both live. I often check your website. Thank you for all you do.

    As an avid (older) cyclist I would like to second gecko #3 above in asking you not to diminish the role of bicycles and other forms of alternative transportation in helping to reduce energy use. Bicycling improves health and enhances living; it’s hardly a form of deprivation. And I hope you will learn to love the trees. Trees are beautiful, graceful and one of our best carbon sinks. The Emerald Necklace is right next door – how can you only tolerate trees?

    I really liked the opening section about the degrading effect on democratic process of the fossil fuel industry disinformation campaign. The swift-boating of every issue these days is a very dangerous trend and the corruption of political discussion is something that deserves much more attention.

    I also liked the proposals at the end calling for a global cooperative effort to develop locally appropriate energy infrastructure. I have long thought that the kind of mobilization of resources (human and technical) we need in order to address climate change resonates with William James concept of a Moral Equivalent to War.

    Loved the outdoor location, but I think it would be helpful to identify it for people who are not from the Boston area. To Ken Johnson #7, who wants images, the park in the video is in the inner reaches of Boston Harbor across the Mystic River from a multi-unit electric power plant that operates on oil and natural gas; Exxon’s marine terminal and storage facility where oil tankers offload; and the Distrigas LNG terminal and storage facility (major Homeland Security event every time an LNG ship comes in). These facilities can be seen starting around minute 6 when the camera shifts to a view directly across the river.

  21. Steve L says:

    I found this interesting. Mr Gelbspan worked in print media for a long time and as editor did (I assume) his best to reduce the wordiness of pieces to try and reach his audience. It seems to me he has now tried a video medium to deal with a culture with a shortening attention span, a culture in which tweets are of more interest than something — anything! — discussed in depth. Okay, good, use video. But a 23 minute video of a someone reading (even competently) is not the way to reach people who won’t read. How can you make democracy an attention-grabbing issue without images of explosions? This video needs more sex, more violence, more tickles.
    Relative to Mr Gelbspan, I’m a climate optimist. I’m much more cynical about democracy. Good luck, Ross.

  22. Joshua says:

    From the Video

    1:20-1:28..I’ll paraphase ..Either totalitarism or unprecedented cooperations…Realy , does he have a crystal ball or do climate models predict this as well? Seems like a prety large leap to make. More likely, global anarchy, perhaps my logic is flawed.

    I watched more, 1)I got fossil fuels providers …EVIL..trying to destroy world, he should have talked about their secret space ship, that would realy get the point across 2) The alarmist classics.. “tipping point” ,”point of no return”, “must act now” 3) Katrina, he so lies about the cause of Katrina, we all know it was the Bush/Chenny weather machine 4)Renewable enegy can power everything…he said so 5) world wide nation state to oversee “grass roots” local government.. didn’t see that one coming.

    I for one would like to welcome our Eco-overlords , I beleive in the justness of the Global Eco-topia and take Gaia as my lord and savior.

    Next time use the “Sham-WOW” guy, it would still be lies and/or exagerations strung together, but it would hold ones attention.

  23. Anna Haynes says:

    > impactful if, instead of just TELLING us, RG actually SHOWED us, with imagery, video clips, etc

    Ideally yes. Show baby’s first steps; show little sports kids playing Little League, marching in 4th of July parade, eating ice cream; point out that we’re talking about their lives.

    Show the “climate consensus” graphic at informationisbeautiful. Show piechart of the lobbying dollars being spent for vs. against ACES. (url?)

    Could we have a few graphic artists and video editors at our service, for outreach? Paging people with consciences and money…

    Related (video outreach, taxpayer money) – has anyone else tried to watch NSF’s “To What Degree” climate outreach videos at ? Are they unplayable (100% stutters) for you too? and there’s no transcript, and even the titles convey zero state-of-the-science information. And neginfo in the subhead – “Leading climate change experts discuss one of the most complex scientific puzzles ever to confront humankind.” (puzzles? complex?(did Arrhenius think so?))
    Does anyone know if NSF public affairs director Jeff Nesbit (onetime spokesman for Citizens for a Sound Economy) is still working for Koch?

    (and does anyone know if Lynn Nesbit, “Mr. Crichton’s agent of 40 years”, is a relative?)

    sorry. got off topic a bit there.

  24. Bruce says:

    I think Tim’s (#15) comments are right on. The major obstacle at this point appears to be a lack of global understanding of the seriousness of the problem. Until the disinformation campaigns can be shamed into submission and the media takes up the cause, I don’t see much hope of our elected officials doing the right thing. What I’d love to see is some brainstorming on how to get the media to take climate change seriously.

  25. David B. Benson says:

    Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to comment on this thread.

  26. Jeff Huggins says:

    Dear Ross (and others),

    I applaud your energy, efforts, and courage.

    I agree with a great deal – though not all – of what you convey in the video. But, rather than going into detail on (mostly) agreements and (a few) disagreements here, I’d just like to mention a few things.

    I think that one of the many interesting and insightful points you offer is that we are being robbed of our “sense of future” – and, indeed, of the stability, health, quality, and etc. of that future. I’ve been sensing this a lot recently. To put the future at risk – the stability, quality, sustainability, or even “existence” of the future – is an irresponsible, terrible, and shameful thing to do! Period! And, to add insult to injury, not only are some people persisting in putting the future at risk, but they are ALSO trying to cloud the matter and to prevent us from realizing it; AND they are doing nearly everything they can do in order to block or hamper society’s very ability to see facts, think clearly, and act responsibly to address the matter. They not only have us pointed toward a cliff, but they also insist that we keep walking, AND they try to put (and keep) blinders on us in the process!

    Enough!! I’ve had it with that. No more.

    Some “special interests”, major companies, groups, and people are acting to GREATLY diminish humankind’s basic degrees of respect for (and access to) reality, truth, and scientific understanding. And, they are undermining the very ability of democracy to function well.

    In my view, it’s time to name names and point spotlights, a lot.

    Ross, I’ve done an analysis of ExxonMobil, and I’d be happy to send it to you. I present the results on DVD, and I’ve sent copies to a wide range of folks, including Joe, Andrew Revkin, and about fifty others. (I was a chemical engineer from U.C. Berkeley, have worked in R&D in the oil industry, am a Baker Scholar from Harvard, and was a McKinsey consultant, and I agree with your concerns about ExxonMobil: I call them the Trillion-pound-plus Elephant in the Room, and that’s being way too kind.)

    Also, I’ve pulled together some comments and critiques regarding the media’s dismal and irresponsible coverage of climate change, including that of The New York Times. I’d be happy to send that to you as well, in a very readable and (I hope) helpful document. I’ve sent it to Andrew Revkin, Joe, and Curtis Brainard, so far.

    If you are interested in either of those, or in a conversation, you can reach me via my website at .

    As time allows, I’ll also leave a few more concrete comments over the next day or so.

    Be Well,

    Jeff Huggins

  27. Richard Brenne says:

    Ross and All:

    Again Joe Romm’s All-Stars are out again in full force making excellent comments.

    I agree with Gail about trees – while I can see Ross is working to establish himself as an investigative reporter rather than an environmentalist, trees are so critical to our survival and so much smarter than us in so many ways (they’ve had solar panels – leaves – for hundreds of millions of years and they’re renewable while the ones we’re now belatedly building are not) that I’d never belittle them, but instead aspire to be more like and work together with them.

    Also, bicycles are the most miraculous form of personal transportation ever invented, and should be encouraged at every turn – and straitaway.

    And when renewables other than hydro total around one per cent of American and Global energy, it’s not certain that they’ll provide more energy – and certainly not as conveniently as oil, which unfortunately has been an energy miracle unlikely to ever be replicated by anything – than fossil fuels have provided.

    Perhaps unfortunately (from the perspective of those wanting all the convenience and ease we can muster) or fortunately (from the perspective of almost all other species or Gaia itself), sitting in the dark and riding bicycles might be exactly what the future holds, though perhaps not at the same time.

    Ross, you are the world’s expert on the disinformation campaigns of the fossil fuel industries and I’m a huge fan of your work and contributions, and everything I’ve seen and read of your work leads me to agree completely with Bill McKibben (or bill mckibben) about your menschhood.

    My dream panel is your expertise about the disinformation campaign and many other areas, Hansen, Lovelock, Schneider, Solomon, Lubchenco, Trenberth and Romm on the science, NREL’s Chuck Kutscher, Cal Tech’s Nate Lewis, Chu and Romm on energy, Gore, McKibben and Romm on policy, etc.

    That would be playing to everyone’s – including your impressive and considerable – strengths.

    And I think the biggest and most important points are those made by Icarus (#11) – anyone who can fly to the sun and evidently back is someone I’m going to listen to.

  28. Wonderful video, wonderful message, wonderful man. Unfortunately, we all must realize that these three attributes are not getting the job done. The U.S., India, and China do not listen to him or to Joe Romm, or Al Gore, or Jim Hansen, or to their allies. Dysfunctional politics, selfish economics, and huge and powerful energy industries will carry the public along until climate heating overwhelms the planet so sufficiently and obviously that action must be taken. Will it be too late then? Let us hope not, but the huge scale of the problem has always been a particularly difficult obstacle to overcome. Clearly time is not on our side. Al Gore said it well in his latest book: “The phenomena that alerts scientists to the onset of the climate crisis are, by contrast, unfamiliar, because they are unprecedented in human experience and seem slow-moving due to the vast global scale of the ecological systems under siege. In other words, because of its global scope, this crisis masquerades as an abstraction.”

  29. s. wing says:

    Thanks to Joe and to Ross Gelbspan for this thought-provoking video.

    Ross Gelbspan pins the disinformation campaign on the fossil fuel industry. The role of the press is characterised as “negligent and largely indifferent”, i.e. passively unhelpful.

    It seems to me that Joe has talked in the past about parts of the press playing a more actively disruptive role than that. The Rupert Murdoch media empire is the most obvious example of such behaviour.

    Murdoch claimed a green conversion a couple of years back. He talked of reducing the carbon footprint etc. Yet the Murdoch media continue to play both sides of the ‘debate’. To give some examples, The Australian newspaper, which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corp., earned the booby prize from for its terrible coverage of the climate issue. Joe has already pointed out how a Fox News show smeared Al Gore by doctoring coverage of Gore’s congressional testimony on his green investments – see

    Bizarrely, The Times, another Murdoch newspaper, has just recently published a non-scientist’s fantasy remake of the science, which purports to show that CO2 cannot be an effective greenhouse gas – see

    The accusation has been made that Murdoch is deliberately putting out false or dishonest articles “because he knows it is profitable to sometimes play both sides of a majorly controversial debate” – see .

    I am interested in your informed as journalists. Do Joe and Ross Gelbspan think there is any truth in that accusation?


  30. Jeff Huggins says:

    2010 — “Bark” and “Bite”

    During the past few days, a person I respect greatly, and one who cares much about the Earth and the future, made a very insightful comment to me about the difference between “bark” and “bite”.

    The essence seemed to be that merely “barking” won’t go very far in many cases and that, sometimes, much more “bite” is necessary and warranted.

    Big boycotts, civil public events, naming names, and other (legal, ethical, and just) forms of “biting” are clearly becoming necessary, it seems, unfortunately.

    There may not be a single major issue (of the magnitude of the climate change problem) that was ever addressed, by humans, based on “barking” only, without some biting? I’m not an historian, so I don’t know. Nor can different sorts of issues be compared well: They are all different. Yet, abolishing slavery was not done based on “barking” alone, unfortunately. Nor did the civil rights movement involve barking alone. And so forth.

    In the present case, “biting” such as boycotts, public events, naming names, and so forth will almost certainly be required. This seems to be what history — and present events — tell us.



  31. Roger S says:

    Joe, My recent long comment simply vanished when I clicked “Submit Comment.” Was this because I didn’t preview it first? Just curious.

  32. Van says:

    Ross, you are one of my heroes. Your website probably the first one I discovered addressing the issue of climate change. I particularly like the cataloging of extreme weather events. It seemed like everybody was ignoring these and not connecting the dots, but with your website it was “aha, somebody else gets this. One of the big failures of the scientists was that they made climate change sound like something that would happen in the future, when the effects were already happening all around us. Keep up the good work, and great video!

  33. mike roddy says:

    Thanks to Ross for your critical contributions. It really takes an old school reporter- and fighter- to go after the deniers and the people who pay them, and guys like you are unfortunately becoming more rare. All of your work is valuable.

    My biggest concern is in reaching the confused middle, especially the young. They are the ones who will really suffer from climate change, but seem passive in view of what we’re facing. I’m not convinced that the various art projects or indirect approaches promoted on other sites are going to reach much of an audience. We need to show respect for both the facts and the audience by examining the crimes of the denial industry and using even blunter and more colorful language. I attempted to do this in a piece to be published on later this week.

    I also wrote a script about a dystopic world of 2112, complete with far Northwest warlords and marauding Texans. Nobody bought it (big surprise), but ultimately we will need a great movie- not an allegory, but a movie with a realistic portrayal of where we’re headed. The young are a visual and visceral generation.

    Enough “I”, sorry- you, Ross, Joe, Hoggan, and others inspire me. Let’s keep it going, since the curse of understanding the evidence is that it means we have to fight with all we’ve got.

  34. First let me thank Ross Gelbspan for his work over the years and for this particular video which most certainly covers the most important elements of our challenge and indeed is similar to the talks I regularly give on the topic. My primary concern though is his focus on bringing about an incredibly ambitious international transformation of both our global economy and still largely nationalist perspective. It all seems very worth while but also overly ambitious. And frankly we don’t have the time.

    In recent years I have come to believe that only using the enlightened self interest of individual nations inspired by the need to avoid the worst of climate change while gaining the advantages of new clean energy jobs is likely to get us through this crisis reasonably intact. In short we need to work with the global society we have rather than the one we might want. And I should add that it is going to require more education, more media coverage and the sort of political activism many have mentioned on a global scale to even make this approach work.

    Steven A. Leibo
    Professor of International History & Politics
    The Sage Colleges
    WAMC Northeast Public Radio
    International Affairs Commentator

  35. Leif says:

    #2 Roger: Well that did not respond properly but appeared to work in the past.
    Roger, Vanishing comments. I have been plagued with vanishing comments for a few weeks as well. Joe has searched his end to no avail. I assumed operator error and believe holding “send” button a fraction too long is perhaps the culprit. Test it?

  36. Leif says:

    All right. 2 tries. I have gone up to 8. I have adapted by saving the comment on my computer so that it is easy to reboot. You must change the comment slightly each time or you get a statement back that “you already sent…etc.” Joe’s computer has the comment it is just in spam world.

  37. Leif says:

    Steve, #34: I to believe that immediate self interest might get us started down the line of sustainability but also that the discussion of transforming the capitalist system is important. If we all lived a hunter/gather or third world farmer existence the world would not be in this predicament. On the other hand capitalism and profit motive have largely been responsible for the “finer” things in life. The problem arises when business builds planned obsolescence into a product to promote consumption to enhance profits as opposed to building quality lifetime recyclable products to enhance life. With the goal of seeing that “everyone” the world over has an opportunity to own same if desired. That does not mean going back to the cave as the A-SS Hole people would have you believe. Quite the contrary , it means having quality, cherished goods that can be passed from generation to generation. A total transformation in capitalism in my book.
    Restructuring capitalism to work for the good of humanity and not the make the few rich folks richer on the backs of the poor and oppressed. ( Oh boy, I can just see the Anti-Science Sink Hole faction salivating over that one.)

  38. Leif says:

    In my view, if the goal is to entice the youth as well as the folks who would prefer the status quo we must spend the efforts to show that the future does not have to look like going back to the cave as the A-S folks define the situation but to show that the future can hold rewards far in excess of the status quo. (Think of “Star Trek” where there is NO MONEY.) While it is true that we may well be on a “Road Warrior” journey for a few thousand years it would be nice to show that many fought for a more refined existence.

    Besides the pursuit of a “utopia” might be a pleasant diversion to all the doom and gloom of the present.
    I know that I need a break from time to time.

  39. robert says:

    Thank you Ross and Joe for the GREAT message about a focus on ACTION. Now we need a flag, a banner and a ribbon for all who care to be identified in a support of addressing Climate Change. The flag will need graphic symbols to give it dynamics. The banner will need a killer phrase. The ribbon is the easiest. Design it like the ribbons that marked support for our troops in the recent war efforts. A commercial made green ribbon [fashioned in an overhand loop] could be available for car attachment. Be ingenious and make your own with weather proof Bright Green ribbon formed into a loop and affixed to your car and mail box. The same goes for a ribbon attached to you jacket or suit. By Showing you care, many will identify with your example. Become more than the absorber of light, become a GREEN reflector!

  40. Leif says:

    Robert# Good thought and DONE!

  41. Gail says:

    Leif and Roger, I have had many comments vanish, so I try not to take it personally. Once Joe retrieved one from spam so I sent him this in reply:

    which still makes me laugh like crazy!

    Robert, I think we need a song. Does anyone remember “All We Are Saying, Is Give Peace a Chance?” How about, Give Earth A Chance????

  42. Edward says:

    I wish you would just transcribe his speech so that I could read it. My connection is too slow, so the speech gets interrupted every 2 seconds. I haven’t heard anything new yet in the video. If we manage to stay civilized at the level of a dictatorship, that would be better than expected. I expect a return to the stone age at best. That is after 6 billion people die of starvation in one year. Something new: Oil+coal cashflow = $1 trillion/year.

  43. espiritwater says:

    THIRD ATTEMPT TO POST: Thank you, Ross Gelbspan! This was an excellent video! I wouldn’t change anything about it. I would only suggest you share it with as many people as possible and the best way is: TV!!

  44. Edward says:

    28 Dr. Philip Eisner: India has begun to listen because the monsoon has begun to fail in India. According to “From Peru,” a civil war is going on there. He has posted here before. Perhaps that is what it takes.

  45. espiritwater says:

    Concerning his comments on totalitarian government- type- actions as a result of climate change: A couple of years ago, someone told me there were numerous concentration camps being constructed through out the U.S.
    I looked it up on the Internet, and sure enough! Huge facilities– all empty, with barbed wire pointing inward being worked on throughout the U.S. As I lay awake one night with insomnia, the thought occurred to me, “I bet those are for us! When chaos errupts, when millions flee the coast, when cities are inudated, etc.” On this one website on Peak Oil, it says just that! It mentions these facilities and says they’re obstensibly for illegal immigrants. In fact, they’re for when all hell breaks lose. (Nice way for the government to keep us all under control!)

  46. Leif says:

    espiritwater: A couple of points. Presumably they will have to feed us. (and) Eventually they either let us go, kill us, or wait until we die. It would appear to be a public relations mess of the first order. Certainly within the scope of the Shrub Administration but I think beyond the thinking to the left of most all.

  47. Edward says:

    Ross Gelbspan is way too optimistic. If we manage to avoid extinction, we will be doing well. I mean there is a good chance Homo “Sapiens” will go extinct. Ross Gelbspan still doesn’t get it. Global peace?? Dreamer!!

  48. Sable says:

    espiritwater, your information comes from where, exactly? Where are these empty camps located? Something more than “I looked it up on the Internet”, please. Thanks.

  49. Kevin says:

    Great video. Does an excellent job of telling the big-picture story.

  50. Dorothy says:

    I don’t know how to thank you, Joe, Ross and all the caring, intelligent people who have commented on this post.

    Ross, one thing that makes your video so powerful is the honest and strong emotions you show. We need more people with your courage speaking out and expressing what we all feel in our hearts. You could use more images, though, perhaps showing the distress dangerous climate change is causing to people all over the planet right now. The eight-part BBC World News series “Hot Cities” covers a lot of this. We have the permalink at

    Gail, #14, grieves for the trees she loves; I grieve for the sea creatures that are disappearing, before my eyes. And this winter, the number of migratory birds out on the water has plummeted. The mounting loss of the natural beauty that enriches our lives and the food resources we so much depend on for our survival is frightening.

    There is another impending loss that troubles me as much. At a moment in history when great music can be by so many millions of people, we are at risk of losing it all. It takes power to transmit the live webcasts from the Met Opera or to recharge MP3 players, and the paper scores of Beethoven’s symphonies won’t last for long, nor will the instruments to play them.

    In a “Road” future, whether it’s “Road Warrior” or Cormac McCarthy’s or Jim Crace’s roads, human survival might be possible, but at what cost? Lief in #37 writes of the importance “cherished goods that can be passed from generation to generation.” But will our cherished culture survive?

  51. HighTest says:

    To Ross Gelbspan, via Joe Romm:

    Liars are everywhere.
    I lost money investing in Enron, not because I had unwise or even dishonest advice, but because the Enron gang had lied to my trusted advisors.
    In financial circles, liars cause great losses of cash. In global warming, the losses produced by bad actions or by inactions are so profound as to beyond measure.
    So Rule #1 is to keep up the good work.
    Never let the worst get to you, or they win. Can’t let them win.

    [this has never been submitted before]

  52. A well-articulated summation of where we are and what we need to do to deal with the mess we’re created. Ross’s critique of nation-state politics, market-driven economics and competition explains exactly why there was no breakthrough agreement to deal with climate change in Copenhagen.

    Outside the Bella Centre (the site of official meetings), 100,000 ordinary people marched to push for real, concerted action. They get the scope of the problem and the way forward, but those on the inside do not. (I was there to witness and report on both)

    My recent coverage of climate science and Copenhagen:

  53. espiritwater says:

    Sable, I keep trying to give you the infor. but they won’t publish it!!!

  54. espiritwater says:

    8TH ATTEMPT TO POST!!! To Sable, one site is: Peak Oil, Matt Savinar, Life after the oil crash. I’ll try to get back with the other one!

  55. David B. Benson says:

    I suppose is is comforting to know I’m not the only one with posting problems…

  56. I am truly blown away by the volume of responses to the video – and the extraordinary level of thoughtfulness by virtually all the correspondents. My very deepest thanks to Joe for posting this – and even more to all the people who have seen fit to respond.

    Let me address just a couple of points that pop up in the thread.

    Two minor ones: Some of my best friends are trees. Some of my best friends are also bicyclists. So – my apologies for what was a lame attempt at humor.

    I also agree with readers who feel the video should “show” more than tell by incorporating other footage. Regrettably, that kind of production is beyond my financial means – since most of my work is financed out-of-pocket.

    Finally, a heartfelt “Thank You” to Bill McKibben who is the godfather of all of us who have been working so desperately hard on this issue – and who has given more of himself than anyone I can think of.

    More substantively:

    Several readers question the goal of whether a wealthier world could be a sustainable world – especially one that is becoming a more populous world.

    A couple of points here:

    We can not deal with the climate crisis without first (or simultaneously) addressing the issue of global inequity. If the economic gap between the industrial and developing countries were substantially narrowed, it would be far easier for the world to move toward a much more sustainable and cooperative economy. Poverty, unfortunately, can dismissed as a “relative” state. Equity, by contrast, is more easily measured as a fixed, quantifiable condition.

    Development economists tell us that every dollar invested in energy in poor countries creates far more jobs and far more wealth than the same dollar invested in any other sector of their economies. Were we to lead the way in rewiring the world with clean energy, that would dramatically reduce the equity gap between North and South. (It’s worth remembering that non-carbon energy technologies, after their initial capital costs, are essentially free to consumers – without the ongoing expense of replenishing fuel).

    Access to clean (free or low-cost) energy would also, I believe, provide the kind of baseline economic security in poor countries that would rapidly bring down population growth rates. (Many poor families frequently have larger families so that some of their children will survive to take care of mom and dad in their old age).

    Finally, my hunch is that changes in values often follow changes in technology. Just the very act of addressing the climate crisis on a global scale would, I believe, bring home to everyone the fact that we are bumping up against the limits of the planet. Ultimately I believe a worldwide program to rewire the world with clean energy would yield far more than a fuel switch. I think it would lead, almost inevitably, to closed-loop industrial processes, “smart-growth” planning, the adoption of “ecological accounting” in calculating national GDPs, and, ultimately, a whole new ethic of sustainability that would transform our institutions and practices and dynamics in ways we can’t even imagine today.

    On the consumption side, I believe that same change of values would quickly translate into an economy based on much less throughput and resource consumption. I think people would seek less and less of their gratification through excessive consumption. People would work fewer hours. (We might finally realize the early promise of computers – to cut our workloads in half.) My hope is that intellectual and artistic pursuits, athletic competitions, entertainment, and, above all, personal relationships would provide far more of our emotional and intellectual fulfillment than material acquisitions. That is, after all, the kind of world that most thoughtful people — especially those who are not hungry, sick or homeless — really want.

    Were that change of values to occur, I have enough faith in our ingenuity and inventiveness as a species that I trust we’d find ways to create a far more physically sustainable global economy – and with it, the real promise of peace among people and peace between people and nature.

    Thanks so very much to all of you for your inspiring and deeply rewarding responses.

    — Ross Gelbspan (Dec. 28, 2009)

  57. Anna Haynes says:

    (re Edward’s “I wish you would just transcribe his speech so that I could read it. My connection is too slow”)

    I started reflexively transcribing it yesterday, but it turns out much of it is a near-rewrite of an essay he posted on Grist – google
    “They recall the kind of frenzied scrambling that is characteristic of trauma victims”

    Some of it’s also on his website The Heat Is Online.

  58. Anna Haynes says:

    s/near-rewrite/light edit/

  59. Anna Haynes says:

    OT, ditto to Mike Roddy’s “ultimately we will need a great movie- not an allegory, but a movie with a realistic portrayal of where we’re headed. …visual and visceral…”

    a 1984.

  60. espiritwater says:

    To Sable, I don’t remember the exact website. It was a year or two ago when I looked it up. It told about various CC throughout the U.S. However, I just now attempted to find the site again, by typing in, “Concentration camps throoughout the U.S.” and it listed various sites… there are videos which tell about them.

  61. Leif says:

    Well said, Ross. Which brings us back to how to get these kinds of discussions into “sound bite” form so the frazzled masses can start to digest the thoughts and apply lessens learned to the realities of the big picture. Show that it works, show that it saves money, show that it can even make money with the quality of life improved. ~20 or 30 hour week, no personal tax, universal health care, ( sh*t, what’s not to like!) we just put a tax on energy and carbon and let the peaces fall where they may). The people get to sell energy at parity minus maintenance on the grid. Any sustainable producer that can seamlessly access the system can get cash flow. and to be fair that should apply anywhere in the world. We all need energy to improve our living space. Why the hell can’t we all be a part of sustain-ably producing energy at a base price or even a floating market? as active participants to a level playing field for a change. You fat cats get to fight it out with the masses on truly equal justice courtyard. Expenses come off the top to support social programs. Schools…Everyone gets to sell there wares, no tax, as the market will bear.
    If my understanding of finance is correct BIG money gets to cross boarders freely and big money is often made on the transaction. Little or no TAX on said transaction! It costs people to cross borders! It takes time! That provision alone ,IMO, is what allows a good portion of the world injustice.


  62. espiritwater says:

    Trees are no doubt essential to our survival but I don’t think he meant offense. His remarks were just an aside. I think he was just trying to convince people of his sincereity (“I’m a journalist, not an environmentalist”). Some people are suspicious of environmentalists so his remarks about trees, etc, may perhaps put this group of people at ease and they will listen to the rest of his talk!

  63. Gail says:

    espiritwater, I do agree that Mr. Gelbspan was being somewhat facetious in his comment about trees but there is a real tactical choice to be made as to whether to emphasize technical fixes to climate change or what pollution is doing to the ecosystems of the earth. Personally I think it’s a distinction without a difference, and we should throw everything we’ve got into clean energy. As to the concentrations camps, if you want to get really apocalyptic you might enjoy some predictions for 2010. The blog is closed but I believe you can access the latest harrowing newsletter by clicking on the link I will post next, because it may cause this entire comment to be swallowed!

  64. Leif says:

    What should the international finance tax be? One thought, to get the ball rolling. If it costs a person on average X amount of dollars to uproot and that person expects to make Y $ in his life than ?% x X+Y should be the tax on an equal monetary transaction??? Perhaps it should be tied to the overhead of the energy/carbon price/tax. It will be impossible to run a deficit, If any GOP are still around, you should like that. More stability as tensions. subsided. My guess is that most of the participants are tired of it and are willing to check options. Equates to lower military costs all around, (Those savings raise the value of ENERGY) We do not have to pay interest on all that money. An up front hit on BIG MONEY is the elimination of all debt. That is for F***-ing with the hu-MAN-ity.
    All that and AGW is fixed and everyone lives happily ever after.
    I hope that was as much fun for you as me!

  65. Gail says:

    Just as I suspected, Joe’s spam-o-meter HATES that link and spits it out automatically. If you’re or anyone is interested leave a comment on my blog and I’ll send it to you.

  66. gecko says:

    I believe it was during the first energy crisis that Ted Turner started the 24-hour Cable News Network (CNN) and this may be a good time to create one directly addressing the Climate Change Crisis.

    This should be of great assistance in accelerating Lester R. Brown’s “sandwich model” of social change.

    Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

    Lester R. Brown

    Chapter 10. Can We Mobilize Fast Enough?: Three Models of Social Change

  67. Sable says:

    espiritwater, thank-you for responding. It sounds like your posts with links have vanished, I’ve had the same trouble when posting here, so if I refer to another web page in a post, I just give directions.

  68. To Leland Palmer –

    Many thanks for steering me toward the material on BECCS. (When, in the talk, I referred to CCS as a full-employment act for Bechtel and Halliburton, I was thinking exclusively of CCS for coal emissions).

    The IPCC IV designation of BECCS as a potential negative source of emissions is clearly encouraging. (On the other hand, I’m aware that lots of clear-cutting going on in the Amazon area, for instance, is to help Brazil become a major producer of wood pellets for facilities that don’t have CCS infrastructure).

    I will surely pursue this option to learn more about it – despite my initial reservations. But I do believe if we can stop burning material for energy – any material at all – it would be hugely beneficial.

    My other reservation (as I think I mentioned in the talk) is that BECCS still implies the existence of a centralized energy infrastructure. And I do believe that for all kinds of security reasons (terrorism, acts of nature etc.) that a decentralized system of diverse sources which are best suited to their natural surroundings is ultimately desirable. (I’m thinking of a system of windfarms in wind corridors, wave power for coastal cities, solar where appropriate and cost-effective, hydro where it can be accomplished in a way that protects ecosystems, geothermal where there are economically feasible “hot spots”, etc.)

    I also prefer a decentralized system (regardless of the technologies) because, given how very centray energy is to our existence, that a system of decentralized energy sources is more consistent with a non-hierarchical, non-corporate and more democratic form of social organization.

    That said, I absolutely will make a point of learning more about BECCS.

    (But not about Scaife and Bradley foundations. Been there, done that
    : – >

    — Ross

  69. To Andy Gunther –

    I couldn’t agree more re: the press. This has been a huge disappointment to me – especially since I spent 30 years at The Philadelphia Bulletin, Washington Post and Boston Globe (among others). But until very recently, press coverage has been truly dismal. Personally, I’ve been much more outraged by the betrayal of the public trust by the press than by the execs of the coal and oil companies – who are simply doing their jobs (bringing us cheap energy and trying to preserve their industries).

    So here’s my bad news on this front. I’ve done more briefings with editorial boards, reporters, etc., than I care to remember (including mounting a major conference for news editors from around the country a few years back). Invariably these briefings have resulted in one story or one editorial – after which the topic basically disappeared from coverage.

    The larger antagonism toward real investigative journalism is quite disheartening. It began some years ago (from my perspective) when newspapers began using focus groups to find ways to boost circulation. That resulted in an explosion of celebrity coverage, self-help articles and trivial medical news at the expense of serious, in-depth reporting. At the same time, many dailies – which had initially been owned by companies or families that believed in the mission of newsgathering — were bought up by conglomerates who answered to Wall Street. The result is that marketing strategies have replaced news judgment in too many decisions regarding editorial coverage.

    Moreover, since the path to the top on most newspapers runs through political coverage, most editors see things through a political lens — which means they ghettoize stories like this one which don’t have obvious mainstream political implications. It’s a kind of institutional arrogance toward non-political topics.

    The happier news is that the press does seem finally to be picking up on the story again. The coverage of the Copenhagen COP was certainly abundant. I just hope the press will be able to shake off its traditional constraints (and institutional arrogance) enough to reflect the true imminence and magnitude of what we’re facing. I do appreciate your thoughtful suggestion.

  70. Richard Brenne says:

    Ross –

    Your response (#55) was even more amazing, in many ways, than the excellent content of your video, which is consistent with my observation that people often have an easier time communicating in conversational ways.

    Thanks also for pointing out that McKibben’s the Godfather, when I always thought that was Brando in I and Pacino in II and III.

    I’m sorry to be one of those harping on trees and bicycles, especially trees riding bicycles while playing harps.

    Your video is an excellent attempt at the kind of full-cost accounting I most value and work on myself. I don’t think any one video, film, book or anything else can ever do full-cost accounting completely. Yours – together with your comments here – is as good an effort as I’ve seen in the area you chose.

    Nathan Lewis of Cal Tech has done the calculations that to replace all fossil fuels with all renewables by 2040 we would need to do all of these at once and continually from now until then: Manufacture 1000 square feet of photovoltaics a second, build an Olympic-sized pool of algae a second, a nuclear reactor every three days, a wind turbine every five minutes, etc.

    This appears impossible until one looks at WWII production statistics and adjusts for global GDP then and now.

    The difference is that every nation doing the producing during WWII saw its very survival and/or that of its key allies at risk.

    Everyone agreed that Pearl Harbor and the other instigating events had happened. Now around half, quite possibly more, feel that there is no problem at all, or at most a very minor one that requires no such efforts.

    So how to get to where you want to go is immensely difficult, and is not a problem of science but of communicating the science and changing the vast majority of hearts, minds and actions.

    I’m afraid that the ideas of increased leisure time might instead be reversed into working even harder to feed, shelter, warm and cool ourselves. This will likely give each of us a sense a purpose that the vast majority of us have lacked.

    I can’t believe I didn’t mention my friends and frequent panelists Al Bartlett, James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, William Catton and John Michael Greer, who get the limitations of energy and the problems of overpopulation and overconsumption better than anyone.

    If Ocean Acidification is the evil twin of Climate Change as Jane Lubchenko suggests, that is really saying something. If anyone would know about that, she would.

    But I think Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and all other environmental catastrophic challenges can be viewed as one thing, and that their evil twin is Resource Depletion, including Peak Oil as part of Heinberg’s Peak Everything, including freshwater issues.

    And these are all the syptoms of the disease of the truly evil twins, Overpopulation and Overconsumption.

    Without this full-cost accounting, we are likely to bat at symptoms rather than really solve anything long-term.

    You are one of the very few people capable and compassionate enough to understand and communicate all of this – togther with the names we mention, our host Joe and his wonderful minions like Leif, Gail, Jeff, Leland, Stephen, Mike, etc.

    We all need to keep trying the very best we can, but in the end I doubt we’ll be able to change the hearts, minds and actions of everyone on Earth – even at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with much of Bedford Falls bonding in George Bailey’s living room there will always be Potters out there.

    Maybe in addition to our best and continual efforts to change the world, at the same time we need to form the tightest-knit communities of the most caring we can, both to survive what’s coming and to perpetuate the best of what we now know to as many future generations as we can.

    Looking forward to working with you on this,
    Richard Brenne (

  71. Richard Brenne says:

    Also a great idea that I’ve also been thinking about is Gecko’s (#65), that we create a cable news channel devoted to climate change.

    Gecko (and I always thought of your species as stronger in insurance than media but what do I know): I’d like the network to become a media empire that can one day overthrow Murdoch’s (we can dream).

    It can start on-line and move into broadcast, print, etc. The hosts and pundits are the names we mention: James Hansen, Joe Romm, Bill McKibben, Jane Lubchenco, Al Bartlett, William Catton, James Lovelock, Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, John Michael Greer, Susan Solomon, Elizabeth Kolbert, Stephen Schneider, Nathan Lewis, Chuck Kutscher, Paul Ehrlich, Brian Fagan, David Suzuki, Paul Crutzen, Denis Hayes, Randy Udall, Gary Hart, Patricia Limerick, Diane McKnight, Jim White, Brad Udall, Brian Toon, Bob Henson, etc.

    Most of these are friends I’ve had as panelists and we’re in the early stages of discussing this. But we need to move as quickly as possible on this. Anyone who wants to discuss it further can contact me at

  72. Wit's End says:

    Richard Brenne, you have reminded me of how very grateful I am to Joe and to his Romm’n’Legions who comment here. It has been a very painful journey, to put it mildly, for me to become educated about climate change, about the causes and effects, and the very terrible consequences already occurring and worse to come.

    And it has meant everything for me personally to be able to find a rational voice in Joe’s steady and relentless analysis, and his community of unflinching realists.


  73. Aaron Lewis says:

    Comments on Ross Gelbspan’s video

    1) First computer models of climate change by Drs. Forrester, Meadows & Meadows in Club of Rome Report / Limits to Growth.
    2) Environmental Scientists refused to link specific weather to global warming. Because of this, I cannot blame the media for not connecting exceptional weather to AGW. Individual weathermen that should have known better, yes, but not the media as a whole.
    3) We have just started this warming. Carbon already in the air will cause additional heating. Feedbacks from carbon already in the air will cause the release of additional carbon. All the ice sheets are currently melting. Additional warming will cause more rapid ice melt. For example, it has rained somewhere on Greenland every month for the last 30 months. This fall, even as Greenland should have been freezing solid, erosion features from runoff were appearing higher and higher on the ice.
    4) Such ice melt threatens infrastructure that makes our large population possible. Such sea level rise threatens the capital market centers that organize finance of new infrastructure. It threatens low lying command and control centers such as Washington, DC. And, it threatens critical manufacturing facilities. For example, today microprocessors are in all industrial equipment, and are made all around the world. However, each has a thin layer of plastic around it, and that plastic is made at sea level. A small rise in sea level puts a crimp in global microprocessor production. Without such microprocessors, technology, (including green technologies) do not work.
    5) Agricultural chemicals and fuels are mostly produced at sea level. Lose those production facilities to SLR and food production plummets. Without food, cities die.
    6) Most textiles are produced near sea level. A bit of sea level rise and we lose textile production.
    7) Most environmental science has governmental funding. Nations want to avoid panic. Thus, potential for abrupt changes in weather or climate have been downplayed at several levels. These include which scientists get promoted, which grant proposals get funded, and research progress reviews by grant managers.

    8) Engineering requires a predictable climate. Unpredictable weather makes engineering civil infrastructure impossible. One example is urban water supplies, sewage, and storm water drainage. Another problem is designing ports in a era of unpredictable sea level rise.

    9) Agriculture requires a predictable climate. Knowledge of moisture patterns for optimum seed germination and growth is required. Knowledge of temperature patterns is required to select the correct crop for an area. In the MWP, European farmers planted wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat in the same field. Depending on the moisture and temperature of the season, one of those crops would grow. In warm years, it would be wheat. In cold years, it would be barley or buckwheat. However, the overall crop was never very large. That is not a system that works with large-scale mechaniized agriculature. Without large-scale agriculture that allows a few farmers to produce food for many technical workers, technical solutions fail. Even workers in “green technologies” must eat.

    10) Finance requires a predictable climate. If structures routinely fail prior to their “design life-span” as a result of unpredicted weather, then finance fails. Likewise insurance fails. Without finance, the builder must pay cash up front for all structures from homes to office buildings to transportation systems to water systems to ports. Government bonds become a thing of the past because the underlying structures cannot be trusted to endure because of unpredictable weather. Who wants to loan money to build something that is likely to get washed away in a rain storm, the like of which has never been seen before?

    11) Modern wind turbines, PV, and smart grids use microprocessors that require substantial technology and hence a working industrial scale agriculture and finance markets.

    12) Ocean currents flowing from the tropics to the poles already have warmer water entrained in them and we can expect more polar melting and release of CO2/CH4 from permafrost and clathrate derived CH4. That carbon is not in the global climate models. Bring it up in a Q&A session, and they will tell you such feedbacks are not supported by “climate science.” However, Arctic carbon is being exposed by permafrost melt at current levels of global warming. It may well set off another round of warming. Sea level rise rates of meters per century is comming. The thing is, we may get nothing for decades, then 2 meters in a couple of years.

    13) Civilization under such conditions is not impossible – read Homer. He recalls life under 3 large volcanic eruptions that would have made local climate unpredictable. It was not so bad – it produced poets such as Homer. Do we do as well today?

  74. Peter Sergienko says:

    Late to this and thanks to Mr. Gelbspan for his excellent video. As one added thought about necessary cultural change and to address, at least in part, the issue of financial resources for the transition from the petroleum age to the renewables age, America must drastically cut its ruinous military spending and America must alter its foreign policies in conjunction with efforts to solve our environmental problems. As Chalmers Johnson has shown in his “Blowback” trilogy, our efforts to garrison the globe to secure oil supplies through military force will bankrupt us (if they haven’t already). Moreover, these efforts have not just failed on their own terms, they have directly caused anti-American sentiment, up to and including terrorist activity. In positing global solutions to our environmental problems, I think it is critical to re-examine and reformulate our military and foreign policies so that they are ethically and practically consistent with revised and reformed industrial and foreign aid policies. Is any of this possible? Maybe not, but it is necessary.

  75. Just a brief response to a point made by Aaron Lewis (above) who writes:

    “Environmental scientists refused to link specific weather to global warming. Because of this, I cannot blame the media for not connecting exceptional weather to AGW.”

    That’s not really correct. One of the country’s leading climate scientists, Tom Karl, then of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, made the connection in 1995.

    Trends in US Climate During the Twentieth Century
    Consequences, Vol 1., No. 1, Spring, 1995

    Karl et al restated it more emphatically in Scientific American in May, 1997
    Scientific American, May, 1997
    The Coming Climate

    Meteorological records and computer models permit insights into some of the broad weather patterns of a warmer world

    — RG

  76. Sable says:

    espiritwater, I glanced over the concentration camp claims. Although I’m not so naive as to think “it couldn’t happen here” (it already has), a little scratch beneath the surface reveals conspiracy theory and UN paranoia. The link from Matt Savinar’s page offered the most plausible assessment, beyond that it seems more the subject of paranoid speculation. Without more to go on, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    Thanks for the pointer to Savinar’s page, interesting stuff there – boy he’s just brimming with hope, isn’t he?

  77. Dan B says:


    Finally was able to access Climate Progress and get the video to run – anti-virus issues…

    The video is good and will benefit from the many comments. A homily comes to mind, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” The video is good primarily because of your passion. Few people would doubt your sincerity, even many deniers would acknowledge that – personally but probably not publicly.

    I second the other posters who suggest several shorter videos on specific aspects. It would be very easy to viral these around the internet. Shorter pieces are easier to download and view, and it’s more likely they’ll get watched by people who are only marginally interested.

    Op-eds, as suggested by Ken Johnson are good. The strategy I’d take is this: Submit them to smaller papers, particularly in rural areas, and more conservative regions. Most papers will print opposing points of view because of their sense of “balance” in journalism. If it gets readers riled up then readership increases. An added bonus is local radio stations often use these op-eds to fill airtime. There are a number of outfits that distribute op-eds – one does it for free if the local volunteer editors approve the piece: Forum, based in DC. Otherwise do a funding pitch on your website. Base the pitch on getting op-eds distributed in one state at a time. People will often donate if it’s for their state.

    Next communication tip. Even people who doubt global warming will become engaged if you lead with “solutions”. There are many reasons. The main point is it works. The next step is to mention the opportunities – and contrast them with the status quo, ie: Jobs in Green energy – they can’t be outsourced or shipped overseas. Contrast: The Oil and Coal industries employ fewer people per dollar than any sector of the economy (well, maybe the financial sector employs fewer – look where the money shell game has got us…) Then close with the moral principles. For more detailed information on this strategy visit Sightline Institute. Search for Flashcard #2.

    While you’re there check out the other Flashcards – the best collection of environmental communication I’ve found.

    And – pickup Chip and Dan Heath’s book ‘Made to Stick’. One thing that struck me from the video you produced is much of what you mention needs concrete examples. Concrete examples, as I define them, produce visual imagery. This is essential to successful communication – and an essential component of communication that is motivational. For instance, you compare the environmental movement’s message to trauma victims – superb link that produces visual images. When you mention the War College report there’s no clear concrete example. The report mentions collapse of water supplies and food shortages causing destabilization and mass migration. It includes many more examples that could be equally effective at producing a visual image. The example I think of are the reports that the Pacific Northwest will be “less impacted by climate change than other regions of the United States..” The visual I have is of hundreds of thousands of people arriving in Eugene, Portland, and Seattle. It would be Dust Bowl goes Mad Max with rain.

    If you can produce more videos please do so. Keep em coming! As Frank Luntz says, “Repeat, repeat, repeat. Just about the time you’re sick and tired of repeating your message is the time the first person in your target audience has heard your message.” (Love Luntz’ professional skills, dislike what he believes.)

  78. J.A. Turner says:

    What sort of individual actions will have an impact? For example: Should I invest in socially-responsible stocks, or donate to political activist groups, or donate to local initiatives like (who install PV systems for low-income homeowners)?

    Mr. Gelbspan’s comments on global cooperation and regulation are sure to fire up conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremist idealogues. Is there a way that these concepts can be presented that might make their truth more obvious and less likely to be used as fodder for detractors?

    How can we confront denier hubris? How can we make the truth bite deeply enough to reach the decisionmakers? Is there any way to pry the U.S. Senate out of the hands of denier camp?

    What’s the strategy for moving public opinion sufficiently for swift and meaningful action?

  79. Richard Brenne says:

    Aaron Lewis (#72)- You make many good points, consistent with those James Lovelock (temperatures and other impacts won’t rise consistently, but with downturns, plateaus and then with unprecedented – at least in human history – upturns) and Lester Brown. And as to your last point, I think we do have a Homer and his response to climate change – D’Oh! – is as profound as any.

    J.A. Turner (#76) – Good questions, all. This is like total war fought for the survival of nations in WWII. We must fight on all fronts all the time (albeit peacefully, but with barking and biting at the right times and in the right ways). So yes to all your own suggestions, with more all the time.

    There are metaphors and much smaller examples of what we need to do. The largest is that we need to change our economy from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy much like the U.S. changed from a peactime to a wartime economy within months after Pearl Harbor. Everyone pitched in, even more among all the primary combatants whose lands were made battlefields or bombing zones than in the U.S.

    The fights to abolish slavery, to give the vote to women and blacks, Gandhi’s movement for Indian independence, the American Civil Rights movement and ending apartheid in South Africa are all examples where tremendous moral courage as well as physical courage and intelligence overcame some of the most powerful vested financial and cultural interests of their time.

    Different tones are used in different mediums and with different audiences just as Lincoln went from a more abololitionist to a more conservative tone when debating Douglas for his Senate seat in 1858 – Lincoln moderated his tone nearer the borders with slave states.

    Speaking of Lincoln, appealing to “the better angels of our natures” that are within everyone is usually the best approach. But sometimes there is more genuine affection in a slap than a hug. Deepener our intuition as much as possible toward the levels of Frederick Douglas, Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella is the key to this, and that to me seems like a spiritual journey, no matter one’s beliefs. (I include agnostics or atheists in the broadest definition of this word – to me anything not material is spiritual.)

    So sometimes deniers (like at a family gathering) are tenderly, gently and patiently spoken to at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. Sometimes the ones paid to deny need to be confronted and even appropriately mocked. Think the best of Twain, Will Rogers, Churchill and Romm here.

    Prepare for “the fire next time,” meaning the next Katrina, the next European heat wave, etc. We’ve had solar minimums combined with La Ninas combined with heat going to warm the oceans and melt ice and we’ve had global dimming from pollution. When these cycles tending toward negative feedbacks instead become positive, we need to be very prepared for this, because this will get everyone’s attention as no communication now can.

    Unfortunately our species is like someone very dumb, blindfolded and falling off the Empire State building, as Al Bartlett says. With enough ignorance about the consequences of the fall, it might even be seen as exhilerating. Once we hit the ground, which we will, our perspective will immediately change. While communicating everything we can now, we also need to prepare for far worse climate impacts than we’ve seen.

    Unfortunately if you look at alcoholics or any other addicts, almost no one changes until they’re really forced to change. Being prepared for those forcings and affecting change when the majority of people are ready for change will be key.

    Thanks, J.A., for asking such important questions and I’d love to hear the answers of others.

  80. espiritwater says:

    Gail, my comments concerning concentration camps were in reference to Gelbspan’s remarks about totalitarian government. Thanks for your offer about the newsletter, but if I feel like “wallowing”, Joe has many posts on this website which will suffice!

    BTW… I get really upset also when anyone makes derogatory comments about trees or environmentalists… sometimes even had my comments deleted because of “vehement language”. However, in this particular case, I took no offence. Gelbspan seemed to be talking half in jest.

  81. espiritwater says:

    Sable, it’s difficult to put down things properly because I feel like I have to hurry or they won’t publish my comments! (It seems like they’re deleted if we dwell too long over our remarks!)

    Yes, the Peak Oil website was very interesting! Sort of blows you away that so many crisis are headed our way! About the other sites, I couldn’t find the ones I originally read, but they were actually good also. (The insomnia was probably due to caffeine, not from worrying!)

  82. espiritwater says:

    To Sable: According to Reinsurance Magazine, 2005, p.2,

    the Pentagon’s report states, “There is substantial evidence to suggest that significant global warming will occur during the 21st. century… It is quite plausible that within a decade the evidence of an imminent abrupt shift may become clear and reliable.” (2005 + decade= 2015)

    Obviously, the Federal government has known for quite some time about GW and is no doubt preparing for the consequences.

    When typing in the above mentioned leads, I forgot to mention to type in the word, “video” afterward. Then you will be able to see the pictures of the mentioned facilities as well as U.S. soldiers in U.S. towns, participating in some kind of similation (this is mentioned in the Peak Oil website as well.)

  83. Horned Toad says:

    Couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Gelbspan. You’ve marked the spot we’re at (or in) and the road ahead with a clear X.

    I began covering environmental issues back when it was still called “the ecology.” My nickname was “Chicken Little” but even I was far too conservative in my estimate of the situation. In the mid-90’s I realized Global Warming was worsening far more rapidly than I could put into words, except “RUN!!!!” I come from a long line of gifted family farmers who survived two Dust Bowls, and although they too describe the trouble ahead as “Run!!!” they will stay put and fight. And so will I.

    Presumably you have plans to get the video in front of a wider audience. How can I help?

  84. Leif says:

    Reaching a wider audience? Perhaps we could produce a spot for weekly? daily? airing on NPR.
    Sound bites for local news outlets? Short articles for release to papers? Naked running in the streets? Home printed hand outs?
    Keep up the quality control on this site so Joe will be the default location for media stories and send Joe tons of $$$.

  85. Andy Bauer says:


    I am a community energy/environmental activist. I also teach middle school. When I speak to folks/make presentations, I keep my points short and sweet (think sound bite). Having produced clean energy videos, I know how time consuming a job it is.

    Offered sincerely…

    What I like about your video: Your passion, your arguments and your clear research.

    What doesn’t work with your video (and my first project, too): It’s too long for the general public. I would suggest a 60 second limit. Also, previous comments about adding in graphics, different camera shots, etc, are right on. I’d LOVE a climate cable show.
    However, you mentioned your limits on video production, so…

    1) If you don’t have one already, establish a YouTube account.

    2) Breakdown your excellent points into one minute segments (become, horrors! – an Editor:) and edit ruthlessly). Call them ‘Ross Gelbspan’s Climate Minute’ or something similar.

    3) Reshoot your points

    4) Network. Host Joe, Jim Hoggan, Michael Mann, etc. Put links to their fine sites in the videos, ask them to link back to you. The more we are seen as a diverse community bonding together to fight climate change, the better. It also allows you to give the ‘teaser’ in one minute and provides for follow up.

    Do you have contacts at a local college? I would guess that someone there might offer video help pro bono.

    Best Regards,

    Andy Bauer

  86. gecko says:

    #70 Richard Brenne,

    re: 24-Hour Cable News Channel dedicated to the Climate Change Crisis

    I believe Ted Turner donated several thousound copies of Lester R. Browns excellent book “Plan B 4.0 Mobilizing to Save Civilization” to world leaders so, he might be a good choice.

    Bloomberg might be another as Lester has a video from this network made December 23, 2009 at

    Maybe even a local cable system / website streaming videos produced by New York City government may be justified as the NPCC book recommending climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to New York City through the New York Academy of Science Annals and John Wiley is scheduled for sale early Jan 2010.

    As you know New York City is one of the world’s major financial centers among many other things — including media — and is directly in harms way.

    A separate channel related to The Weather Channel is another obvious choice which they must be thinking about.

  87. Dorothy says:

    Ross, I’m spending my second morning at ClimateProgress reading the comments on your fine video and see from one of your responses that you could use some funding help for adding “visuals” to it. Count me in and just tell me how to contribute. I’m sure I’m not alone, so maybe you could post a link on Joe’s site to make it easy for us.

    I run the WestCoastClimateEquity blog and would like to post your video and a link where people who want to help. You’ve really started something great, and we shouldn’t let this drop.

    And I think a climate cable channel is just what we need. Richard Brenne’s (#70) list of participants and pundits is an excellent one. But we might want to add others like Andrew Weaver from Canada, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from Germany or Matthew England from Australia, scientists who understand just how serious the problem is and aren’t afraid to speak out. See the Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009:

  88. david says:

    Good to see Gelbspan still at it. I’d worried he’d resigned himself to catastrophic climate chaos being inevitable for lack of substantive movement in addressing the issue, and so was no longer pursuing the matter as I believe he written that he would do.

    Climate Progress or someone else should invite him to speak in DC in the near future.

  89. Leif says:

    Maybe we can get NPR to do a talk show with the likes of Ross or Joe or any number of spokespersons out there.
    If the Anti-Science Sink Hole faction wants to participate it is in proportion to accredited science pros and cons. Not 1 x 1. We cannot argue our case if we are continually barred from the discussion. Perhaps barred from equal access to air time is a better war to put it? That means you News Media.

  90. J.A. Turner says:

    An important reason why Mr. Gelbspan has such an impact is that he is relating what he has experienced, and not just repeating opinions. It’s the difference between eye-witness testimony and hearsay. Reasonable people can be reached by hearing eye-witness testimony of the propaganda machine and of the harms caused by global warming. By showing that the public discourse has been undermined by liars and demagogues and that real people are being harmed as a result, it should help decent people who have been duped to reconsider whether their opinions are informed by truth.

  91. Dan B says:


    If you’re still reading, I second, and third, the points made by Anna Haynes, Andy Bauers at 84, and others on this site.

    Communication means community. Send the video out as is. Slice and dice it into tiny bites. It will spark people’s curiosity – What else is he saying? – if you don’t tell them everything.

    There’s an interesting chart. It’s got one line, shaped like a ‘U’. On the vertical axis it says “information” on the horizontal axis it reads “confusion”. Too much information, much confusion, too little, lotsa confusion. It’s the biggest challenge of motivational communication – how much information, how long, how short, to whom, when, etc.?

    Don’t get bogged down. Send the video out as is.

    Then do little bits on YouTube. Canon Digital Cameras take excellent video with reasonably good audio.

    YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CONVERT IT TO A WEB FORMAT, IT GOES ON AS IS! An acquaintance who makes his living with video-blogs discovered this years ago.

    Have a blast discovering new web-based media!

  92. Thanks so much to Anna, Dan, Andy et al for suggestions about disseminating.

    My only question is: don’t you think people who might want to use discrete segments could simply capture those portions and mount whatever they want to use themselves? (If not, I’ll talk to the guy who edited this and see what’s involved in breaking it into topical segments).

    And I’ll need to familiarize myself with the Youtube drill. This Brightcove-based version is better quality (re: production values) than Youtube. But I think Youtube is a great idea in terms of exposure. (I’ll see if I can find someone who knows the Youtube drill and proceed). Again, thanks so very, very much for the really encouraging response. And the suggestions are really helpful to a web-semi-literate like myself!

    Here’s to a fulfilling and gratifying year to all of Joe’s terrific bloggers.

    — Ross

  93. Is there a transcript? It’s very quoteable.

  94. Leif says:

    William, #93: Checked out your web site. Impressive. Love your graphs. More stuff that needs daily dissemination in the media.

  95. Horned Toad says:

    Leif #84 — I’ve been stalked and threatened by the world’s worst polluter and nearly “Silkwooded” by nuclear goons on the open roads of West Texas. I still have to sit with my back against the wall because these people hold a grudge for life. Friends who have taken on the coal industry have similar stories. My point is: Mr. Gelbspan’s new plan of action and/or philosophy not only will be sobering to a good deal of people who already deny out of shear fright, it will draw the immediate attention of polluters, some with a license to kill. The sheer force of a highly organized effort is the only protection and way to win here in the bottom of the ninth. Leaflet and run naked in the streets if one likes, but everyone should understand that this is no romantic adventure.

  96. Leif says:

    Horned toad, # 95: There is no doubt that this is serious business, I am well aware of that. I have been in this protest mode since the mid sixties civil rights, Viet Nam, Nixon, Ray-gun, the shrub. Innocent good people have been killed, King, Kenedy, Kent State,… a disgustingly long list. The innocent this round? At the present, tens of thousands of “no named” third world children from starvation and neglect, 35,000 in one European heat wave, young adults poisoned by the very water they are forced to drink. If you make it to 68 without running naked in the streets screaming some incoherent babble before this is over I don’t think you are trying hard enough.
    Good grief, here it is only 6 AM of the first day of the new year. I sure hope that it is not down from here.

  97. Horned Toad says:

    Leif, I live in a community where a lot of people own shotguns but they are not very good shots. If I ran down the street naked a lot of innocent people would get hit by friendly crossfire.

    It sounds like you all have all the help and experience you need, and won’t need mine. Good luck, farewell and many prosperous new years to you all.

  98. gallopingcamel says:

    Gelbspan does not mention Climategate so I guess his video was made before that scandal hit.

    Next I read the comments (97 as of January 2, 2010) and again Climategate was not discussed. Now that is very odd indeed!

    Then I counted the comments to get a feel for the percentage of supporters. By my count “For” = 95, “Maybe” = 2, “Against” =0.
    Pretty impressive. It brings to mind elections in the good old USSR.

    Now to comment on the video itself. There are many statements based on bad science but the assumption that higher global temperatures are in some way “catastrophic” caught my fancy. The human race does really badly when the climate is cold. Less than 2 degrees cooler than today and you have the “Little Ice Age” with terrible consequences for mankind. I have a well researched video from “National Geographic” that gives some highlights. There are geneticists who tell us that mankind was close to extinction 125,000 years ago during a real Ice Age.

    On the other hand warm periods like the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods are also called “Climate Optimums” because longer growing seasons in the higher latitudes ensure greater prosperity.

    There have been many periods in Earth’s past that were much hotter than today. For example, during the Eocene there was no ice at either pole; sea levels were ~200 feet higher than today. Vegetation extended from pole to pole. Did this “extreme” climate cause hardship? You bet it did! Many species became extinct but the mammals did really well, eventually leading to the Ascent of Man.

    Now Mr. Gelbspan, make my day by allowing this comment to get through your filter!

  99. Leif says:

    Horned toad, #97: I never said that it was not a good plan to “pick” your road. Don’t go away mad. We rarely draw blood around here. AND lots to learn.

  100. Leif says:

    Horned Toad” One more point if I may. A birthday suit romp down the center of an appropriate road with a war hoop on your lips can be quite invigorating. Get someone of the opposite sex, (or the same), to join you and you will have a day to remember.

  101. Richard Brenne says:

    Galloping Joe Camel (#98):

    Ross Gelbspan has been writing more and better about climate change for longer than anyone except Bill McKibben and Stephen Schneider, and his science is very sound.

    It was most likely the eruptions of Supervolcanoes that caused Homo Sapiens greatest genetic bottleneck 73,000 years ago, but you’re right that this was a cooling event.

    You’re also right about the Eocene, but that dramatic extinction event because of a 7 degree C rise took around 100,000 years. We have the potential to warm our climate a comparable amount in 1/1000th that time.
    Do you think that would have dramatic impacts? Read “Six Degrees: Our Future On a Hotter Planet” by Mark Lynas, or see the documentary based on the book, “Six Degrees Could Change The World” that National Geographic did.

    Mark painstakingly went through the peer-reviewed literature to see what scientists predictions were with one degree increases in temperature up to 6 degrees C. You want to know how the book (and documentary) ends? Spoiler alert: We end, or at least most of us do.

    And that might be our fate with a 6 or 7 degree C increase over 100,000 years, as during the Eocene, let alone during 100 years. (By the way, Joe Romm’s excellent “Hell and High Water,” McKibben’s outstanding “End of Nature,” the recent books by James Hansen and Lovelock all come to the same conclusion. These dudes are way smart and get the science as well as anyone in their fields.)

    We have evolved to adapt to our current climate as has every living thing on Earth, including all our domesticated animals and crops. Change that, and our crops and selves will be unable to adapt in anywhere near the time needed.

    So the climate up to 55 million years ago, by comparison, is about as relevant to our situation as the climate on Mars or Venus is. I’d love to talk more, Wayne, but I’m due back on planet Earth.

  102. Richard Brenne says:

    For the record (and for some reason I specialize in writing things no one will ever read), GallopingCamel (#98) sent me his thoughtful response (and I agreed with his assessment that I was sarcastic and condescending and he graciously accepted my apology) in an e-mail and we’re having an excellent dialog though we fundamentally disagree about climate change – proof that it can be done!

  103. Leif says:

    Richard: We all get a bit short at times, these are stressful topics and constant immersion takes its toll in spite of our “operating room” humor and glibness. You do better than most at being supportive.

  104. gallopingcamel says:

    I just noticed Richard Brenne’s post (#102). Richard has some great ideas and he writes much better than I do. With a little luck I hope to meet him some day. As of now I promise to stop trying to needle you fine people on this web site. Although I will seldom agree with you, here is my first attempt to find some common ground.

    Along with many others, I am in favour of global warming, anthropogenic if possible but the natural kind is acceptable too. Having said that, when it comes to keeping real pollutants like SO2 out of the atmosphere and toxic compounds out of our water I am with you all the way (I used to be a fish farmer).

    In France, 80% of the electric power is nuclear and that helps to keep their carbon emissions down. My understanding is that James Hansen and James Lovelock support increasing our nuclear power generating capacity; that is certainly something I can agree with them about.

    As a physicist I believe that nuclear reactors can be made much safer than even our best existing designs but I disagree with Lovelock when he says that higher levels of nuclear radiation are acceptable in the environment; there really is no need for that. There are at least two reactor designs that are not capable of Chernobyl style accidents.

    These reactors also have the virtue of consuming nuclear waste by converting higher Actinides into stable isotopes and electricity. This has the effect of reducing the gross amount of radioactive elements at the Earth’s surface. Eventually all the spent fuel rods destined for Yucca Mountain will be consumed and after 10,000+ years, most of the easily accessible radioactive elements in the Earth’s crust too.

    Please tell me what you think about LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors) and SCNRs (Sub-Critical Nuclear Reactors). For those who are not familiar with these technologies here are some links including a fun video (fun at least for physicists) on LFTRs:

    For SCNRs look up “Virginia Tech”, ADNA and “Charles Bowman”. While SCNRs are at an earlier state of development than LFTRs we are talking about a nuclear reactor that can be turned off in a milli-second by throwing a switch. For SNCRs to be viable, the price of neutrons has to come down but given the success of the 1 MW SNS (Spallation Neutron Source) at ORNL, the 25 MW neutron source needed for a full scale SCNR power station may be feasible quite soon.