Al Gore On Media’s Failure To Address Global Warming: ‘There’s Hardly Any Discussion About It. It Drives Me Crazy’

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"Al Gore On Media’s Failure To Address Global Warming: ‘There’s Hardly Any Discussion About It. It Drives Me Crazy’"

George Monbiot has a new piece in the Guardian titled “The day the world went mad,” which looks at the underwhelming reaction in the press and political sphere to the August 27th announcement of record Arctic ice melt.

As Arctic sea ice faces a death spiral due to human-caused global warming, Monbiot points to the complete lack of attention: Instead of focusing on the Arctic, a British parliament committee on climate change debated building new runways for Heathrow Airport; meanwhile in the U.S., the Republicans were holding a convention celebrating fossil fuels and the party’s active denial of climate change:

“I wonder whether we could be seeing a form of reactive denial at work: people proving to themselves that there cannot be a problem if they can continue to discuss the issues in these terms….When your children ask how and why it all went so wrong, point them to yesterday’s date, and explain that the world is not led by rational people.”

Well, not everyone was ignoring the insanity of the situation. Speaking on Current TV’s coverage of the National Republican Convention, Al Gore had some strong words for the press:

“The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in  front of our eyes. Twelve massive million dollar plus climate related disasters…and they keep coming…Just as [the media] did not report the truth about the proposal to invade Iraq, we are not getting the accurate impression about this challenge that we have to face. To stop putting 90 million tons of global warming pollution up into the atmosphere every single day… They aren’t only doing nothing about it, there’s hardly any discussion about it. It drives me crazy.”

Watch it:

Here’s the full transcript:

“When the Senate voted to go to war in Iraq, 77% of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attack. And yes the administration put that impression out there, but where was the news media? Where were the responsible members of the Republican party in the House and Senate and why weren’t more democrats standing up to that upright falsehood.”

“The underlying point I’m making is we have serious problems in our democracy and all of the blame put on George W. Bush — I’m not defending him in any way, believe me — but I think sometimes that misses the larger point that our democracy is indeed in trouble. And all of us have an obligation to try to fix it…Global warming is real. And they refuse to connect those dots… We have the whole country suffering from this massive drought. West Nile virus is directly connected to the conditions that global warming has made worse. The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in  front of our eyes. Twelve massive million dollar plus climate related disasters…and they keep coming.”

“Just as they did not report the truth about the proposal to invade Iraq, we are not getting the accurate impression about this challenge that we have to face. To stop putting 90 million tons of global warming pollution up into the atmosphere every single day… They aren’t only doing nothing about it, there’s hardly any discussion about it. It drives me crazy.”

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24 Responses to Al Gore On Media’s Failure To Address Global Warming: ‘There’s Hardly Any Discussion About It. It Drives Me Crazy’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Gore is right, and it is the single biggest issue standing in the way of a breakthrough.
    People in middle and southern states are not getting accurate information, resulting in political paralysis.

    None of the global warming activist organizations has a comprehensive media strategy, so the media conglomerates have been getting away with missing or distorting the biggest story of all time. We have to depend on a rock and roll magazine or blogs to get the facts. Nobody is calling the media companies on it, or persistently trying to persuade them behind the scenes. Editors and publishers are themselves often not up to speed, and the television producers are worse.

    This will not change without a ground game of continuously applied pressure and fact dissemination to media companies of all kinds, including game and movie producers. Some of us are ready to execute this, but willingness to put the infrastructure and human resources in place is not there. Expressing aggravation with bad coverage among ourselves won’t change anything. It’s a tragic hole in the mission.

    • I am posting this around to see if this idea gets some traction: Is it time to convene a National (Continental) Climate Change Congress? I just came from Al Gore’s (Climate Reality Project) 3 day climate leader’s training. I have participated with 350.org. I do my own local climate activism. How about 1 or 2 years from now- the entire spectrum of climate folks (From Gore, Kerry, Hansen, Mckibben, Romm to delegates from every state in the union) gather in a citizen’s congress in order to 1) Issue a unified Declaration of Climate Sanity 2) Issue a unified, unequivocal call for a Green Apollo Program 3)Create unified strategies around climate education and activism (E.g.- an effective targeted media strategy where articles by ‘mainstream’ media that practice false equivalency, etc. are immediately ‘called out) 4) Confer upon climate change the gravity and legitimacy that a congress infers. Is it time to come together in such a unified show of focus and support? I would be thrilled to co-ordinate such a project! JFK announced the intention to put a man on the moon on May 25, 1961- perhaps a 3 day National Congress on May 25, 2014?

      • Richard Miller says:

        I think David is exactly right.

        What is our situation politically? Republicans are merchants of destruction and Democrats are weak and at best incrementalists. This means that the next fall back position is for environmental groups to come together and leverage their collective power to force political change.

        Their power could be considerable in light of
        Dr. Robert Brulle’s essay entitled “The US Environmental Movement”, which you can find at http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~brullerj/, where he writes:

        “The U.S. environmental movement is perhaps the single largest social movement in the United States. With over 6,500 national and 20,000 local environmental organizations, along with an estimated 20-30 million members, this movement dwarfs other modern social movements such as the civil rights or peace movements. It is also the longest running social movement.”

        The question is how can these movements fully leverage their power. In my judgment they have not fully leveraged their power, not even close.

        There has been a great deal of research on how social movements bring about political change following the work of the academic Gene Sharp. Students of Sharp founded the International Center for Non-violent conflict. See here http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/. See the excellent short guide to effective non-violent struggle:
        http://nonviolent-conflict.org/index.php/learning-and-resources/resources-on-nonviolent-conflict?bTask=bDetails&bId=262

        We need to have the environmental groups come with the researchers at the International Center for Non-violent conflict for a fruitful dialogue. The Occupy Movement could also possibly be brought into this.

        Out of this we could have a massive unified response by those who accept the reality of climate change as a serious threat. It would be good to do this as soon as possible after the election.

        • Well, I’ve gotten a few responses indicating interest in such a National (Continental) Climate Congress (NCC). To my mind, to be effective (that is, to make a ‘difference making bang’) it has to gather both 1) ALL (as close as possible) the luminaries of the Climate Change arena- Gore, Kerry, Hansen, Alley- He’s a Republican, we need some Republicans!- Mckibben, etc. AND 2) a massive as possible gathering of ‘grass roots’ public support. It has to be COHESIVE – issuing a Unified Declaration of Climate Rights, issuing a unified call for a Green Apollo Program (with details), kick-starting a comprehensive, targeted, effective media strategy across ALL climate change organizations. I was thinking around May 25 (2013?)- the anniversary of JFKs call for a Man on the Moon before the decade. We would need a full time organizational team (a funded non-profit?…maybe there are willing,progressive philanthropists out there?) to make it work…it is getting late in the game- this feels needed and it would be the first of many (also, invited other nations to do the same).

    • I fully agree with you Mike. I have been trying to do what I can by writing a periodic column in my local (2xwk) paper under that heading Green Talk. However, the publisher just resigned. The editor was laid off several months ago and I am not sure what the future of any column might be.

      At some time during the national conventions, I would expect a press release on climate from the Green Party with a focus on why it is not being discussed elsewhere.

      The other thing that all readers of Climate Progress must do is to make direct contact to the named moderators for the debates and demand that they address the economic issues around climate and our energy policy. Even with a focus on Foreign Affairs, they need to question what lack of action does to our moral leadership.

      We are so close to having the term American Exceptionalism take on the meaning of exceptionally stupid.

    • John McCormick says:

      Mike, Watching and waiting for the ‘big green’ to meet the challenge on anything relating to abating climate warming is painful.

      As you said: “None of the global warming activist organizations has a comprehensive media strategy,” is their fundamental failing.

      At the top of their agenda, though, is booking travel and accommodations to the COP 18 in Doha.

      All their money and resources and no media strategy.

      We are on our own. The big green are awol.

  2. Byron Smith says:

    Final transcript misses a few sentences between the first and second paragraphs about going to war being arguably the most important decision a government can make.

  3. SecularAnimist says:

    The most relevant point about 9/11 and the lead-up to the Iraq war was when Bush told the American people that the most important thing they could do to “stop the terrorists from winning” was to go shopping.

    The fundamental purpose of “the media” in the USA — which is almost entirely owned by a handful of giant corporations — is to perpetuate the consumer economy, the engine which generates “wealth” and concentrates it in the hands of the wealthy.

    So why would “the media” want to tell people about the reality of global warming? It won’t make them buy more stuff. It might even discourage them from shopping.

  4. Jamie Ross says:

    Political leaders need to discuss it – then it gets into the news.

  5. Tami Kennedy says:

    Sadly there is more discussion about the benefits of the GOP plan for additional drilling and processing for their fantasy of 2020 energy independence.

    • Matt Arkell says:

      Worst of all about this is that if the Republicans were to get into power, and implement their disastrous “energy independence by 2020″ plan, when it fails (and as everyone here is well aware, it will), nobody will pay any attention.

      In that (thankfully still) hypothetical 2020, the media, if it reports it at all, will find external factors to blame, not the inherent stupidity of such a proposal. And likely, it will be accompanied by nothing other than calls for more drilling, and more money for fossil energy companies.

      The sad reality is the media’s abject failure to scrutinize the viability of such claims, and to point out the complete fantasy that is “energy independence” via fossil fuels is the real issue here. If the media were doing their – actual – job (and this is a consequence of the commercial media landscape across the western world), then the Republicans wouldn’t be given the time of day for their energy plans. Instead, everything’s 50/50, and they aren’t treated as the maniacs and crazy people that they are. Sadly, not that the Democrats are much better.

  6. The lack ov coverage of the ongoing Arctic calamity is astounding. I’m about to write a series of articles for my own blog about this summer’s Arctic events — including the sea ice melt, the Greenland ice melt, the Arctic Cyclone, the rumbling permafrost and the methane clathrates. I plan to open the series with the words “There’s news, and then there’s news.”

    The news we read is about the political conventions, Hurricane Isaac (with scarcely a word about climate change), the occasional mass shooting at the mall. But nary a word about the Arctic. Other than reports in the climate and science blogs, I’ve hardly seen a word in the MSM about the Big Melt (or, the Arctic Death Spiral, if you prefer).

    But of course what’s going on in the Arctic is the big news, the real news, in some respects the only news. Because what goes on in the Arctic won’t stay in the Arctic, as we are already learning.

    Amazing, depressing, infuriating and…well, where can we go from here?

    • John McCormick says:

      Phillip, beat on the ‘big green’ door. If anyone answers, ask them why no media coverage of the dress rehearsal for the end of civilization.

    • Chris Winter says:

      It used to be that, as Mark Twain put it, everybody talked about the weather but nobody did anything about it.

      Now it’s the opposite: We’re doing something about the weather all right (or rather, all wrong) by changing our climate for the worse. But almost nobody in the media talks about it.

  7. Jack Burton says:

    I agree with Gore, we need to lay a lot of blame on the corporate media. They take their money from advertisers and then deliver the news as the corporate world wants it delivered.
    Nobody in their right mind can any longer believe that the US media is a news organization. They are a profit center corporate entity, the need to make profit from corporate advertising drives what and how they report news.
    Look, can you believe that Russia, Iran and Aljazeera are providing far, far better news coverage than any US or British media? It’s true, use you computer to connect to these sites and watch for a month or more, then tune back into US sources.
    What has happened when those sources are better than US media?

  8. It is a horrific realization that both political parties may be trying to ignore the problem. Certainly their largest contributors – carbon energy commercial interests – expect politicians to ignore it. And with commercial supported news of any medium – this rule applies more.

    It amounts to whistling as we pass the grave yard, on the way to our own funeral

  9. Leif says:

    The biggest sell out in my view is not discussed at all. That, IMO, is the right of the select few to profit from the pollution of the commons. I can’t do it. You can’t do it, unless you get some skin in the game. Corporations, now Corpro/People, can do it. That ability has produced the wealthiest corporations in the world and becomes self fulfilling in that as their the wealth grows, so does there influence. (Money now votes!) All built on the ability to exploit and pollute the commons for profit. The very foundation of Western capitalism. Throw a paper cup out the car window, you get fined. You don’t. Pollute the commons with toxic chemicals that are threatening the survival of species world wide out the tail pipe? It is all good because the “Right” Corpro/People get rich. The GOP do not fund abortion with their tax money. Fine. A precedent. How come my tax money funds the the destruction of Earth’s Life Support Systems and I cannot even get the question addressed, much less stopped? Stop profits from the pollution of the commons, humanity might just have a chance, if not it looks like Toastville for the kidders…

  10. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Why doesn’t Al Gore set up his own TV channel? It’s time to put up or shut up, ME

    • Chris Winter says:

      Merrelyn:

      I take you are unaware of Current TV.

      Current TV, or Current, is a progressive media company led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. Comcast owns a ten percent stake of Current’s parent company, Current TV, LLC.

      The Current cable television network went on the air in the US at midnight EDT (4:00 UTC) on the morning of August 1, 2005. Current TV was launched in South Africa for satellite subscribers on the TopTV platform on 1 May 2010.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Thank you Chris, I was unaware of it. Don’t remember it being reported in Aussie press anywhere but perhaps I’m getting slack, ME

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Actually, he did, Current TV. It takes a lot of capital to set up a network, even a cable one, as well as support from advertisers. I would guess that it is losing a lot of money, as do most networks the first few years. Let’s hope he and his backers have staying power.

  11. Susan Anderson says:

    It’s been around. Gaining some traction, I think, as people like us start to seek out alternatives. I like the Spitzer and Uygur and Granholm and rest of young turks etc.

  12. Philip Pease says:

    Terrorism destroyed a few building in New York City; but climate changes caused by fossil fuel use threatens to destroy the whole of New York City, Miami, London, and all coastal cities and communities through rising seas (and rising seas are just one effect of global warming – drought, forest fires, and floods are also increasing). The media fails its’ responsibility to inform the public on the facts and consequences of global climate change. Government representatives fail to act to this severe threat with sufficient urgency to prevent catastrophic conditions from happening. Polls indicate citizens do recognize that climate changes are happening and think that action should be taken. Why is government failing to act and why is the main stream media choosing to ignore the threat? I think the answer is corporate money and power. The main stream media are corporate owned and derive the revenue from corporate sponsors; politicians receive contributions from big money interests and are lobbied by corporate interests. Money buys influence and the fossil fuel corporations have so much influence that they can dictate government policy and media programming.

    The story main stream media are feeding viewers is that there are only two political parties, Republicans and Democrats (the Green Party does not exist in the main stream media political programming). This is powerful psychological programming of the masses for a specific outcome (limited choice). If you are asked do you prefer beef or chicken (and are given information on both beef and chicken (health impacts and costs) what do you answer? If you say Lobster you are thinking outside the box (created by the questionnaire). The main stream media creates the questionnaire (box) do you prefer Romney or Obama? If you answer Jill Stein you are thinking outside the box created by the main stream media.

    This is what I believe is going on regarding climate change – the corporate sponsored media is employing sophisticated psychological programming techniques to get us to choose between either the corporate sponsored Republican or the corporate sponsored Democrat so that whichever choice you make they get to exploit all those fossil fuels and gain trillions of dollars in wealth. They (the fossil fuel industry) spend millions to insure they can make trillions (that is smart business in the Capitalist game).

    I think those of us who understand the threat that continued use of fossil fuels poses need to vote the Green Party and to try our best to get others to break out of the “box” that main stream media have programmed to consider third parties as a viable choice.

  13. The quote: ‘Twelve massive million dollar plus climate related disasters…and they keep coming’
    is in fact, ‘Twelve massive billion dollar plus climate related disasters…and they keep coming.’