10,000 Americans Criticize Discovery Channel’s ‘Frozen Planet’ CO2 Censorship

To add your voice to the petition calling on Discovery Communications to stop the self-censorship of climate science, click here.

by Brad Johnson

When the Discovery Channel aired “On Thin Ice,” its Frozen Planet episode documenting changes in the Arctic, it conveniently left out human causes. The show’s producer told the New York Times she didn’t want people saying “don’t watch this show because it has a slant on climate change” – illustrating everything wrong with the conversation around climate change in America. This afternoon, I and other members of Forecast the Facts delivered a petition to the Discovery offices with 10,000 signatures demanding the organization correct this unscientific self-censorship:

We are deeply disappointed by your decision not to explain the science, and human causes, of global warming in the “On Thin Ice” episode of the Frozen Planet series. As the world’s leader in environmental programming, your decision sends a dangerous message to media companies around the world — that it is better to censor yourself than risk criticism by global warming deniers. We call on you to immediately acknowledge this error and to conduct a review of all Discovery programming decisions to ensure no such self-censorship happens again.

As I and other members of Forecast the Facts, scientists Steve Scolnik and Clarence Maloney, entered the Discovery headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, we were greeted by a security officer in the vestibule. Corporate Security Manager David Sterner told us that no-one in communications, production, or viewer relations was or would be available to accept the petition, nor were we welcome even into the main lobby. However, he did personally guarantee that the 10,000 signatures and the letter addressed to Discovery chairman John Hendricks would be delivered on our behalf.

It is an essential fact that burning fossil fuels is the cause of the melting poles. As Bill McKibben noted, “On Thin Ice” is no different than a documentary on the ravages of lung cancer that censored mention of cigarettes. The pursuit of profit is not a valid excuse for the censorship of science. Neither is the fear of reprisal from well funded polluters.

Faced with a gross failure of leadership on climate pollution by those in power, average citizens are mobilizing to demand honesty and action. But they’re not the only ones. Today also marks the start of the inaugural science policy conference of the American Geophysical Union, a response by the leading organization of earth scientists to the increasing disconnect between the facts of science and the decisions made by politicians and corporations. The central topic of today’s sessions? The rapidly changing Arctic.

Brad Johnson is campaign manager for Forecast the Facts.

To add your voice to the petition calling on Discovery Communications to stop the self-censorship of climate science, click here.

8 Responses to 10,000 Americans Criticize Discovery Channel’s ‘Frozen Planet’ CO2 Censorship

  1. Amy Beam says:

    ABSURD OMISSION! Tragically poor judgement on the part of Discovery Channel. Obviously, DC is capable of quality and factual programming. This foolhardy choice shows a troubling tendency on the part of DC.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Way to go, Brad. I watched Frozen Planet, waiting for them to say something about global warming. David Attenborough finally piped up “Is global warming bad for you? It depends on who you are”.

    D.A. can’t be this dumb. Somebody fed him that line, probably an assistant to the show’s producer. Attenborough was never much of a leader- more of a showman- but his legacy is now ruined forever.

    Discovery used to be different- the founder and I had a friend in common- but they are now sick to the oil money, which is everywhere now. Since they can buy the US Congress, feeding lies to a cable channel is nothing to them.

    Because of this, they will ignore you, Brad, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted effort. As Gandhi said, “You have to fight the dark side. What you are doing probably won’t make any difference, but it is very important that you do it”.

  3. Nick B says:

    Very interesting. From outside the USA it seems very sad to everyone I speak to that a once great nation is now ruled by the tyranny of fossil fuel corporates that pushing the planet into a new mode that will cause a great deal of pain for much of live on earth.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    This is, after all, a capitalist corporation, so any other decision was very unlikely, as truth-telling about anthropogenic climate destabilisation threatens the very foundation of the global capitalist oligarchy’s power-the twenty-five trillion in fossil fuel assets.

  5. Ozonator says:

    It appears that Discovery Channel is trying to pick up ole Looter’s advertisers who don’t like abusing women. “Pearls of Wisdom … April 26, 2012 … “Oil … It’s not a pollutant. It’s not any more dangerous than anything else that’s organic” (the old, ugly and evil Rush “looting” Limbaugh whistlesucker perfuming the stink at

  6. Robert says:

    What the HELL is Climate Change???

  7. Byron Smith says:

    Actually, while I have no particular reason to like Discovery Channel, I believe that the decision to avoid mentioning the cause of climate change in the Arctic was made by the show’s producers at the BBC, which then sold it to the Discovery Channel. David Attenborough is clearly on record numerous times speaking strongly of the very real danger represented by anthropogenic climate change.

    In short, the failure to mention causation is not the fault of Discovery Channel, but the BBC, which (perhaps) left it out in order to be able to sell the doco to a US market.

  8. Byron Smith says:

    Ah, my mistake. Discovery Channel were co-producers with the BBC. Carry on.