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ABC’s Blakemore: Climate Coverage Drop Due To ‘Disinformation And Intimidation Campaign’ Plus ‘Immensity’ Of Crisis

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"ABC’s Blakemore: Climate Coverage Drop Due To ‘Disinformation And Intimidation Campaign’ Plus ‘Immensity’ Of Crisis"

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The decline in climate coverage in recent years has been well documented — both for print and the evening news.

ABC’s veteran journalist Bill Blakemore offers his explanation for this dismaying trend in an excellent Nature’s Edge Notebook column, “The Elephant We’re All Inside: Junk Journalism on Climate, or Too Big to Cover”:

A number of the world’s professional climate scientists are perplexed by — and in some cases furious with — American news directors.

“Malpractice!” is typical of the charges this reporter has heard highly respected climate experts level — privately, off the record — at my professional colleagues over the past few years.

Complaints include what seems to the scientists a willful omission of overwhelming evidence the new droughts and floods are worsened by man made global warming, and unquestioning repetition, gullible at best, of transparent anti-science propaganda credibly reported to be funded by fossil fuel interests and anti-regulation allies.

As scientific reports about the speedy advance and devastating impacts of man made global warming have grown steadily more alarming, surveys have shown most mainstream American news organizations covering it less and less over the past two years.

Even during this hot summer, when inescapable bad news about the warming climate from around the United States and the world has forced its way into main stream media coverage, it has usually been reported only in a reactive and literal event-coverage sort of way.

There’s been little of the persistent probing analysis and regular coverage scientists say is urgently needed for a grave planet-wide crisis — reporting of the kind surveys show there was much more of in mainstream coverage up until two years ago.

Why this decline in persistent coverage?

I have discussed why social scientists believe this is happening (here). I’ve posted an explanation from a top foreign journalist (see Former correspondent and editor explains the drop in quality of BBC’s climate coverage: For 2011, BBC has “explicitly parked climate change in the category ‘Done That Already, Nothing New to Say’ ”). And I’ve offered my own explanation (see “What if the MSM simply can’t cover humanity’s self-destruction?“).

Blakemore offers two basic explanations — “a cynical disinformation and intimidation campaign” and “unprecedented scale and complexity of the crisis of manmade global warming.” Let’s start with the first:

Elements that have stalled American coverage appear to include a cynical disinformation and intimidation campaign — as reported in detail by a handful of professional journalists and academics including Steve Coll, Naomi Oreskes, Erik Conway, and Ross Gelbspan (as we’ve reported before on Nature’s Edge) paid for, so the reporting says, by multinational fossil fuel companies, often based in the United States, that are fighting a rear-guard action to prevent inevitable regulation on carbon emissions as long as possible.

A number of climate scientists have told this reporter they agree with those, including NASA scientist James Hansen, who charge fossil fuel CEOs are thus guilty of a “crime against humanity,” given the calamity that unregulated greenhouse emissions are quickly bringing on.

… it is not our job as professional journalists to let the parties in a story determine how we frame it.Our job includes making sure that they don’t.

And when we perceive that parties in a story are trying to fool us into accepting their definition of terms and their framing of the argument, it is also our job to report on those efforts to control the debate, if those efforts seem somehow newsworthy.

Award-winning journalist Eric Pooley made a similar point in 2009 Harvard study on how the press bungles its coverage of climate economics: “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.”

Blakemore focuses more of his piece on his second explanation:

But there’s another aspect of the global warming story that is challenging and upsetting everyone — fossil fuel CEOs, environmental activists, presidents, high school teachers, their students, bus drivers, economists, cartoonists, chefs, Kansas wheat farmers and Chinese rice farmers, MIT philosophers,  amateur chess players… and political strategists in every party.

That aspect is its scale.

At this point in reporting this story, this reporter feels it may be helpful to simply stop for a moment and focus briefly on this one, most obvious and unprecedented aspect of this story.

It may be psychologically helpful simply to name it — to recognize the full size and complexity of this problem.

One reason — though not an excuse — for journalistic hesitation on this story may well have been that, in its unprecedented immensity, it is simply so psychologically daunting.

This reporter would respectfully suggest that any reporter who hasn’t felt this hasn’t been paying attention.

And there is still hardly a day, after eight years covering it, that I don’t find myself being pulled once again back out of natural, even healthy, denial about it.

Psychologists Charles B. Strozier and Robert J. Lifton report finding what they call a sort of pragmatic “professional numbing” in several professions that deal with traumatic or frightening events or information.

The subject is undeniably daunting. And wanting to avoid thinking about it is a perfectly understandable response.  It would just have the same outcome as if a 2-pack-a-day smoker diagnosed with early-stage emphysema dealt with the problem by ignoring it.

How does Blakemore suggest the media respond?

And how do professional journalists deal with something so big — once we see the size?

Simple. By doing what we’ve been doing.

We just keep at it, and start to figure it out.

We keep coming back again and again, until we get it right, or at least better.

The very word “Journalism” implies that’s what we do:

Jour is the French word for day… implying daily — or some form of regularly repeated service such as a regular deadline reliably met.

We try to get a fix on whatever new psychological barriers the latest story has presented to us and to our news directors, much less to our readers and viewers.

An excellent college professor (Tom T. Tashiro) told this future reporter and his classmates that “All genuine learning is frightening. It’s new, and therefore unknown, at first, and we’re naturally frightened of the unknown.”

It’s much the same with a truly new story — what we mean by real “news.”

Any big new story worth its salt always has new psychological barriers, by definition.

Manmade global warming appears, so far, to have the biggest of all.

Thoughts?

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55 Responses to ABC’s Blakemore: Climate Coverage Drop Due To ‘Disinformation And Intimidation Campaign’ Plus ‘Immensity’ Of Crisis

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks to Bill Blakemore for his effort and his honesty. ABC has been stepping up lately compared to the other networks, but still has a long way to go.

    Unfortunately, the two explanations don’t ring true if the reporter is in the classic mold of George Orwell or Hunter Thompson, who reveled in telling truth to power. The opportunity to expose the disinformation campaign would bring great satisfaction to an old school reporter. Take a look at what Taibbi is accomplishing with the banksters for inspiration. We have Romm, Hansen, and Mann, but the bench is not deep, and these men all have day jobs. Mainstream media would not employ any of them, or even bring them in to educate their news teams.

    As for the subject’s daunting complexity, well, it’s simpler than reporting GMO crops or foreign policy. We are talking about radiative forcing that physics indicates is relentlessly heating our planet. Complexity might be another word for the discomfort that certain economic sectors are feeling: fossil fuels, suburban developers, people who live on investment income, and those who have been successfully confused by both Fox News and the New York Times.

    Capital destruction is inevitable in the next few decades, caused by a climate induced ravaged ecosphere. We need to start by reducing the economic power of the people selling us coal, gas, oil, and wood products.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The Western MSM is a crude propaganda system for the economic and political interests of its owners, the 0.01%. End of strory. The presstitutes who besmirch the once honourable term ‘journalist’ serve their owners, or they are out. They are carefully vetted for ideological conformity, and ‘Thought Crime’ is not tolerated. The refusal to properly address the ecological collapse is simply service to power, because the capitalist bosses value the profits to be derived from ecological destruction far more than they do human existence. Certainly the hacks will invent other faery stories to excuse their moral cowardice, but they are all simply mealy-mouthed self-exculpations.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Brian R. Smith,

    Mike Roddy and I want to talk with you about your challenge to create a “serious messaging strategy.”

    Please contact me at johnmcc793@aol.com

    Thank you.

  3. Your insight and tenacity on this topic are awesome and inspiring. You might recall that we met in Greenland in 2007 when Bob Corell and I led a group from International Seakeepers. Please keep up the great work. This is the story of the century and few realize it.

  4. Bill Walker says:

    I clicked through and read the full story on ABC’s site. The comments there, ironically, contain all the usual denialist BS.

    I think he’s right that the sheer magnitude of the problem engenders a lot of denial. Humans are really good at denial and rationalization.

  5. Immense scale, absolutely. That the climate could collapse is literally inconceivable for most people.

    A smoker has the example of other smokers. There is no way to demonstrate any particular outcome of the collapse of the ice cap. We have to rely on imagination.

    Not many people want to rely on that.

    We do have the examples of past civilizations collapsing for ecological reasons. But not the entire planet.

    Our greatest hope is that it gets bad enough to be apparent to most, but not so bad that it can’t be mitigated. It requires some pretty radical, centrally-organized action–which is why the Tea Party hates it.

    Meanwhile, keep talking about it.

    • Dave says:

      Valid point, but the very fact that the impacts of our dependence on fossil fuels is so visible should be enough to give most people pause. One day, very soon, we’re going to wake up and the Arctic Ocean will be completely devoid of ice — certainly for the first time in human history. And before that was a long Ice Age, so that takes us to the last interglacial warm period 125,000 years ago, and I’m not even sure if there’s any evidence of an ice-free Arctic then. You might have to go back 3 million years to the Pliocene.

      To put it another way, Santa Claus is not going to have a home soon — at least in the summertime. I guess he’ll have to summer on Greenland or something…

      • Dennis Tomlinson says:

        “To put it another way, Santa Claus is not going to have a home soon — at least in the summertime.”
        And what will Americans do after Superman’s Fortress of Solitude becomes so much salt water?

  6. DRT says:

    If we had a president who gave climate change the attention it needs, not the lip service its getting, then maybe the media would respond.

    If we had a president who said ‘Climate change is real my friend’ every time he spoke in public, then maybe the media would pay attention.

    If we had a president who dealt boldly with the gravest threat ever to face humankind, then maybe the media would do a story or two.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      I agree. It is all about leadership which unfortunately is MIA.

      Now the fact that this is pretty much the case right across the board for all nations except for a few who will be submerged shortly (geo time) is also an interesting topic for debate.

    • David Smith says:

      If every one of us could end every communication (written or spoken) with ‘Climate change is real my friend’. This might have impact.

      Climate change is real my friend.

      David Smith

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      A hero-President, like an FDR or Lincoln, could make a tremendous difference, but Obama is no such creature. FDR ordered the business elite to immediately undertake a wartime transformation after Pearl Harbour, and they obeyed. Unfortunately, today the business elite are as arrogant as they are rapacious, and a similar order would provoke gales of laughter. Needless to say the crisis is immeasurably more grave than that of 1941.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Part of the journalist’s challenge is getting to know her or his readership to develop the sense of “we,” as we face a crisis together.

    One of the best pieces of advice that came out of Y2K was to make peace with our neighbors, because not a one of us has all the tools of survival.

    We can face this.
    Fear preys on those who feel they are alone.

  8. Peter M says:

    Excellent writing again by Blackmore. Its amazing what the Media is doing to hide the truth about AGW.

    Blatant lies, nonsense, subterfuge, coquetting with the Conservative Corporations; The media ingratiates itself to-Fossil Fuel companies, Banks, Health Insurance/Drug companies et al. And the public is blindly walking down the pathway to oblivion.

    Story too Big? Guess so. Best decision- hide it. Chaos is no ordinary word.

  9. Paul Klinkman says:

    We’re dealing with a bullying anti-reporting mentality. Journalists are intimidated by real financial threats, sometimes from their own bosses, sometimes from outside. It isn’t at all comparable in violence to the drug cartel threats against most Mexican journalists, but bullying is bullying.

    My best recommendation for accurately reporting both the Mexican drug trade in Mexico and for reporting on climate change in the U.S.A. is to take all editorial decision making overseas to a relatively safe country, to report to overseas news rooms anonymously whenever necessary, and then to send finished news stories and video back to the country under journalistic attack. Amnesty International already has a policy that citizens of some other country lobby to free each offending country’s political prisoners. Why not do this with oppressed journalism?

  10. Lionel A says:

    Perhaps Jonathan would like to contribute to this topic too.

  11. Puhleeze,,,Mass media can do a great job explaining anything it WANTS to:
    – Recall the elegantly detailed science lessons about NASA moon shots, about Three Mile Island meltdown, the 9-11 Twin Towers bombings, and more recently about the Mars Curiosity explorations.

    Hmm, isn’t carbon emissions just like pulling another blanket over you – just when you don’t need more warmth? Pretty simple to show, I would think.

    The corporate controlled news media’s disregard for explaining simple climate science is matched by my contempt toward them for failing to even try.

    • PeterW says:

      Exactly Richard, The media managed to cover World War II with none of today’s technology. His excuse seems pretty pathetic to me.

      • Stephen W says:

        Exactly – it’s nothing to do with any perceived complexity – if this blog can discuss it in depth for a lay audience then so can a newspaper. The real problem, in my view, is simply that the media , of all flavours really, are financially viable only due to the money from advertisers. Given that the central solution, if there is one, to Climate Change and many other ills afflicting our world, is to use less of everything and buy less of everything. Given that currently, just about every single money making activity of note requires you to either buy stuff made using lots of fossil fuels, or visit places by consuming lots of fossil fuels and that dealing with CC means using WAY less fossil fuels, the media have a serious problem on their hands.

        Telling it like it is means that they will be kicking their advertisers in the teeth – that is not going to happen any time this side of their offices being flooded by rising sea levels or their systems going down due to power blackouts.

        Here’s a very clear delineated insight into the process from a UK perspective: http://tinyurl.com/d6obbtr

        • John McCormick says:

          Skip the Tiny URL. It doesn’t get you there. Instead, cut and paste:

          http://www.medialens.org/index.php?optio
          n=com_content&view=article&id=423:media-
          alert-the-insane-society&catid=19:alerts
          -2005&Itemid=40

          That will get you to a very important piece of journalism.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Medialens are excellent, real journalists, and they follow the Chomsky and Herman ‘propaganda model’ of the Western MSM, which is the only believable description. The ‘Free Press’ hoot must be the biggest and most emetic joke of recent times, despite stiff competition from a crowded field.

  12. TKPGH says:

    I admit to being an atheist, similar to Penn Gilette (who wrote a dyamite essay on the issue some years ago for NPR’s “This I Believe”). I believe that this life is the best life I’m ever going to have. I don’t it cut short by a climate-change induced disaster or violence. That goes for my daughter and all the kids as well.

    My point is that I can’t figure out how those doing the denial can’t see that we all stand or go down together: that there there’s no reward or way they come out on top. Perhaps religion is partially to blame. I just don’t know. It’s absolutely criminal.

    Anyone have any information on how we can support Mr. Blakemore and help him in his work?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The knowing denialists are dead souls, people who lost their moral and spiritual bearings long ago-if they ever possessed them.

  13. Dick Smith says:

    I appreciate a thoughtful journalist opining that there are two factors that explain the media’s recent failure.

    However, I’ve been asking myself a larger, but related, question. Why is it that most people don’t believe in the URGENT need to act on global warming/climate change?

    Unfortunately, I’ve concluded that the concern raised by this post–that is, a failure of leadership (in this example, by the media) is just one of a dozen or more reasons.

    Let me share what started as small list that but has grown over time. None of these is original.

    1. Failure of leadership (political, media, religious, corporate, labor). We lack a broad unifying message on the most urgently needed FIRST STEP. In my opinion that message should be “TAX CARBON!” We need to do many things, but we need a federal price on carbon.

    2. People have other priorities (bread on the table, family, personal health)

    3. Deliberate misinformation campaigns.

    4. GW impacts are incremental and largely invisible.

    5. To paraphrase Anthony Lieserowitz people only need to know five things about GW/CC: (1) it’s real; (2) we did it; (3) It’s already harming us and poses even more significant risks; (4) experts agree on the first three; (5) we have solutions if we act now). But, below the surface, the issue is also DAMN COMPLICATED. And, few people (Joe Romm, may be one of the few exceptions) are bona fide experts in the science of GW; the likely impacts; the competing technologies; the economics; the politics and the media.

    6. Environmentalists are extremists who cry wolf (The ghosts of Malthus and Ehrlich).

    7. Faith that free markets are the best solution to every problem.

    8. Faith in science and technology to find a fix.

    9. Faith in God, and/or resignation to God’s will.

    10. Pure selfishness (Ironically, this is based on what more and more seems like a mistaken belief that it costs to much or requires too much sacrifice. Unfortunatley, each new prediction on warming is higher and sooner. But, each new study on economic mitigation suggests it’s closer and closer to that “free lunch” that Greg Mankiw, Bush’s economic advisor, mentioned in relation to a federal carbon tax.)

    11. Whatever the costs, they will not be fairly allocated among individuals, among regions of the country (especially, my congressional district, my state) among nations, and between current and future generations.

    12. Job insecurity if our economy is based on sustainability instead of capitalism. How will a “waste nothing/recycle everything” economy really work?

    13. Almost no one understands that modern science does not provide certainty–but advances knowlege by a consensus of experts–through peer review (see Anthony Lieserowitz point #4 in comment #5 above; or the second to the last chapter of Orestes and Conway’s “Merchants of Doubt”, or skeptical argument #4 on the side bar thermometer at Skeptical Science). This is a big one. And, remember, a majority of Americans cannot name one living scientist.

    14. Crisis fatigue–a global PTSD syndrome.

    15. It attacks some people’s core identity. There’s “Petroleum Man” who is afraid he’ll have to give up some of his most prized toys. And, in the last few years, one’s identity as a member of the “Republican tribe” has gotten wrapped up in denierville–at the same time we’ve reached a level of partisan polarization that is unprecedented in my 65-year history.

    To me, this suggests we need to do many things–but that’s a different list.

  14. DRT says:

    Humanity stands on the rim watching the climate circle the drain, while the MSM discuss whether or not to believe in the coriolis effect.

  15. BillD says:

    The BBC position of “done that, finished” has to be the most ludicrous and disingenuous of the reasons for not covering climate change. Can we imagine saying the same thing about a war or an economic crisis? New scientific advances and new climatic data if not new catastrophes are occuring nearly every week.

    I think that “intimidation” factor is very real and just takes courage and more citizens, scientists and politicians speaking out. I don’t think that science, our goverment or the media should submit to bullying. Recently, I’ve heard the argument that “maybe we should elect Romney because the Democrats will compromise with him but the Republicans won’t compromise with Obama.” Frankly, I find this kind of giving in to bullying completely unacceptable and repugnant.

  16. Extremely cogent discussion. As for a “serious messaging stratetgy,” I recognized this lack and have launched a non-profit near Seattle, WA,”Earth 911 Broadcast Network” to disseminate environmental news reports with emphasis on climate change issues.

    I was a Keynote Speaker at the “2012 International Conference on Earth Science and Climate Change” held on Aug. 21-22 in Chicago. My address was titled “Earth Burns While Media Fiddles,” and announced the establishment of my broadcast platform. The news was welcomed with anticipation.

    I also gave a second address on the second day, titled “Oil Depletion: The Missing Link In The Climate Change Debate.” There, I presented my theory that Earth is warming from the inside-out because oil has served the same purpose for our planet as it serves in our vehicles and machines: oil is the planet’s natural insulator against the intense heat emanating from its core.

    Both sides of the debate have entirely overlooked this possibilty, as has the entire scientific community. After thorough research, I disovered absolutely no scientific discussion of oil as the Earth’s natural insulator and lubricant.

    Lastly, as to the climate change ‘fear factor’ discussion, Mr. Churchill’s words ring ever true: “The only thing to fear, is fear itself.”

    Thank you,

    Gilbert Placencia, J.D.
    Founder/Director, Earth911 Broadcast Network

  17. Tami Kennedy says:

    The journalist has a very difficult problem in the U.S. It is hard to address the immensity of the problem without reports appearing as “the sky is falling.” President Obama’s recent change to mileage requirements should be balanced with a healthy economy raising the number of vehicles on the road. His goal of reducing foreign oil imports, isn’t by need reduction but increased domestic production. Serious efforts to address climate recovery would have significant economic downturn affects. What if everyone on a public transportation line adjusted their life so a car was for last case emergency use? I haven’t had a car for 10 years. I impact the auto industry, fuel industry, insurance sales, auto maintenance… You see where I’m going with the number of jobs. I choose to save the money, thus not buying ‘stuff’ keeping dollars out of the economy. So a president / government is in a conundrum. Push a serious change to lifestyles for an attempt to address the climate and tell country to make personal sacrifices likely to impact your neighbors’ jobs, or run for reelection on growing a wasteful economy.

  18. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe wrote: “Blakemore offers two basic explanations — ‘a cynical disinformation and intimidation campaign’ and ‘unprecedented scale and complexity of the crisis of manmade global warming’ … Blakemore focuses more of his piece on his second explanation …”

    Why doesn’t that surprise me.

    The fact is, it hasn’t taken a whole heck of a lot of “intimidation” to gain the corporate-owned mass media’s more-than-willing cooperation in the fossil fuel industry’s generation-long campaign of deceit, denial, obstruction and delay. All it really took was MONEY, and plenty of it.

    What Blakemore is offering is not really two “explanations”. It’s one explanation, and an excuse. A really lame excuse.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Yes, and many of the proponents of the fear thesis don’t know what they are talking about. Most deniers, excluding the pushers of misinformation, don’t have sufficient scientific understanding of even the basics to appreciate the implications of warming. You don’t fear what you don’t even see, ME

  19. Jim Speiser says:

    I agree with everything Blakemore writes…but the question arises, where is Blakemore? I have been lobbying various media outlets for a year now to assign this to their “special investigation” desks, with the idea of producing an all-out prime-time “white paper” giving people the unvarnished truth – all of it, from the death threats against climate scientists to the very real possibility that our grandchildren will live through the end of human civilization. Not even The Weather Channel gave a satisfactory response (are they still beholden to their founder, who was and is a denier?). So I ask again, where is Bill Blakemore? It happens that he and I are acquaintances, via another story, and I have nothing but respect for him. But he is a VERY senior voice at ABC News, and as such could engender changes in the editorial attitude, perhaps even calling for and producing such a white paper himself. Mr. Blakemore, if you can hear me: You brought it up, now DO something about it!

  20. I think it’s important to think about the human responses to fear. They may well give us a rationale for why we are responding so badly.

    1. Flight — this is the ‘run away from danger’ response. Flight is better associated with climate change denial and putting your head in the sand.

    2. Freeze — this is also a prey response. It can better be defined as ‘dear in the headlights.’ The mainstream media appears to be in this mode at the moment.

    3. Fight — this is the appropriate response to climate change. Unfortunately, few seem to be resolved to fight the amazingly large and growing monstrosity we’ve created. A more negative fight response is coming from the fossil fuel special interests. They’re fighting to enhance other’s flight or freeze response by pandering to those emotions through misinformation and scientific and media suppression.

  21. Iain says:

    The immensity of social structure seems to be a guiding cause, in simple terms, distraction. Watch a documentary about a single aspect of climate change, for example, carbon emissions, OR, watch America’s Got Talent. Or Breaking Bad, or Jersey Shore, or Teen Mom. Diversion and distraction are the greatest causes of denial and therefore, dereliction of our duties as humans on this planet.

    I have seen bits on YouTube of a new show called The Newsroom. See the link below. Is Climate Progress a writer for the show? When will the millions watching this show understand how truly REAL the situation is and that they themselves have allowed it to become what it is today and therefore, are also charged with change and reversal. If you don’t like the bed you sleep in, get up and change it.

    And why isn’t there fighting in the streets? Oh right, America’s Got Talent, Here come the Kardashian’s, Jersey Shore, The Cake Boss…all much important tasks for us to be focused on. Let me go and grab my cell phone, pad, laptop and get caught up on Facebook and Twitter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGAvwSp86hY

  22. Jay Dee Are says:

    I think a lot of people, including scientists who aren’t climatologists, who haven’t gone carefully through the climatologists’ arguments and seen the logic of them, are in denial about increasing global warming because of the immensity of the problem. I’m not an expert on denial, but I’ve had the experience of being in denial, and being jarred out of denial when confronted with facing the facts or dying.

    My problem was highly personal: I had liver disease in the early 2000s and refused to believe it because I had stopped drinking in the early 1970s. I even tried to explain away obvious signs like edema, ascites, and an enlarged spleen. Finally, after extensive testing and experiencing hepatic encephalopathy, I faced the reality that I needed a new liver or I would die. I got a transplant.

    The climate problem is impersonal for most of us. Most of us don’t face increasing global warming as a cause of death for ourselves. It will become more and more personal for our descendants, which makes it easier for our contemporaries to deny it or to put it off.

  23. Richard Miller says:

    When I think of our leaders and the media who cover them I am often reminded of Friedrich Nietzsche’s critique of the bourgeois of his day. Nietzsche, of course, was the great 19th century German philosopher.

    This relates to Blackemore’s concern for the overwhelming character of the climate problem. Although, Nietzsche was hardly an environmentalist, he was very good at critiquing the bourgeois of his day.

    In Thus Spoke Zarathustra he writes (around page 10),

    Behold! I show you the last man.
    “What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? The last man asks and blinks. . . .
    The last man makes all things small.”

    Here is my updated version for our times,

    “Behold! I show you the last human being.
    What is the meaning of rapidly melting sea ice and polar ice sheets? What is the meaning of irreversible drought? What is the meaning of crop withering heat? What is the meaning of unprecedented violent storms? The last human asks and blinks.

    The last human makes all things small.”

    The elites and the people who cover them (Revkin is the poster boy of the last human) make all things small because they do not have the courage, honesty, and ethical resolve to face up to what confronts them and most especially their children and grandchildren and future generations for thousands, hundred of thousands, and millions of years (ie. the latter two relate to the time frame for restoring the pH of the oceans).

    They are very little people who are leading us in very big times.

  24. Leif says:

    The very foundation of Western Capitalism is the ability of the few to pollute the commons for profit. The richest Corpro/People in the world, for the most part, are the receipts of that disparity. They fully expect to take that money to their tax sheltered private accounts as humanity is forced to deal with rising seas, polluted mammies, acidified oceans and global climatic disruption. Corpro/People refuse to acknowledge their complicity, in spite of over whelming international scientific evidence to the contrary. Profits from that exploitation has allowed the corporate interest to own the main stream media to secure their blood money. Corpro/People did not buy the media for the profits that they could make, (clearly a loosing propersition in its own right), but to disseminate propaganda to PROTECT their exploitative profits as long as possible. The GOP, as well as the Democrats, banks and Wall Street, are all beholden to the “profits from pollution paradigm.” Consequently the straight forward “STOP” answer remains elusive, as it affects the hand that feeds them all.

    Corporations are people now. So the question remains: How come Corpro/People get to pick the “people” laws that suit them, yet ignore the time tested civil law of not trashing your neighbors property or being? It is past time that capitalism recognize the value of earth’s life support systems to the commons, which they have now become part and parcel of, and learn to play nice with their elders.

    The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must progressives in part, and humanity in general, fund the ecocide of the planet via tax subsidies and exclusive forced compliance to the ecocide fossil industry?

  25. Mark Shapiro says:

    My takeaway from Blakemore’s piece?

    “We just keep at it, and start to figure it out.

    We keep coming back again and again, until we get it right, or at least better.”

    Just what Joe and others here do. Keep at it. Don’t worry, we’ll always have work to do.

  26. Mark E says:

    Where media fails to communicate moral truths, our churches need to pick up the story. I wish every preacher/priest/rabbi/imam could be gathered together for a one-week seminar from our leading climate communicators.

    Nothing they could possibly preach on has farther reaching or longer lasting consequences for God’s creation, barring the hand of God himself.

  27. Briar says:

    But even if journalists do keep at it, day after day, how are they to ensure people read and think about the articles? I am reliably informed that people don’t have time to read and comment on things any more. Oh no. They might be able to squeeze out a perky tweet now and then, but actual thoughtful engagement? Too busy.

  28. Aussie John says:

    I too have always wondered why religions don’t have more to say on the moral integrity of our political and industrial leaders regarding the threat of mass extinctions on Earth

    An interesting article from a religious writer

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/08/29/3578983.htm

    • Mark E says:

      Thanks, we need a heap more of that in the religious press.

    • Joan Savage says:

      Bear in mind the decline in membership in many organized religions.
      Elected officials pay more attention when the pews are chock-full of voters, and less attention when only a devoted few are listening to the message.

      As it is, many denominations speak up and speak out on climate change and other environmental issues. Those voices range from Pope Benedict addressing a billion Catholics to regional efforts like NEREM (New England Regional Environmental Ministries).

      It is encouraging if & when denominations that are going through a growth spurt engage on this topic.

  29. John McCormick says:

    Bill Blakemore failed to mention the other elephant in the room….concentrated ownership of media outlets and their dependence upon corporate advertising as the principle source of revenue for the owners and stockholders. How did he miss that obvious elephant?

  30. aenoch says:

    We had mention of the press, the politicians and even the clergy as failing to address our climate predicament. But I think the group that’s really getting a free ride is the SMART PEOPLE. We have hundreds of thousands of college professors that get paid good salaries because they are smart. They have the charmed life of nice homes, new cars, overseas vacations, and all that, and where are they when the society that furnishes that charmed life gets in big trouble. They have been awarded their charmed life by our society for being smart so why aren’t there a hundred thousand PhDs marching on the mall in Washington. Student loan debt is a trillion dollars that went to maintain the charmed life of our intellectual class and now it’s time for them to do their part.
    You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that burning hydrocarbons makes CO2 and the green house effect is about as controversial as the boiling point of water. Is the “I’ve got mine” mindset so strong that they can’t see that action now is what’s really in their self-interest?