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CNN Veteran Dykstra Slams Network For Climate Special Lacking ‘A Single Mention Of What Causes Climate Change’

By Joe Romm on January 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm

"CNN Veteran Dykstra Slams Network For Climate Special Lacking ‘A Single Mention Of What Causes Climate Change’"

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“It was very well done for showing climate impacts, but doing an hour documentary on climate change and not mentioning fossil fuels is like doing an hour on sexually-transmitted diseases and not mentioning sex.”

That is Peter Dykstra critiquing CNN’s new one-hour prime-time documentary, “The Coming Storms.”

Dykstra — an Emmy and Peabody winner — is one of the best climate journalists around. He is currently Publisher of the Daily Climate (which CP often resposts), and ”During a 17-year career at CNN, Peter Dykstra was executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology coverage.”

The good news is that, as the CNN promo explains, the show discussed how “Global warming continues to wreak havoc on weather systems around the globe.” The bad news is that the show never examines the cause of global warming or how to slow it down (see transcript here).

Here is more from Dykstra, in an email he sent to CNN staff and several reporters/bloggers:

I thought the individual reporting and storytelling on these pieces was strong, and makes a good case for what’s at stake for the future of climate change. I didn’t see a single factual flaw, which is unique and commendable, and the science within the pieces was well done.   I also thought that the resistance to the traditional model of giving equal time to outliers who question the vailidity of climate science was good, and sadly, a little bit brave in the current media climate.  The science is overwhelming, and the on-the-ground evidence is quickly catching up, as your hour demonstrated.

But the sum of the hour focuses on adaptation, implying that society is resigned to dealing with climate change.  I didn’t hear a single mention of what causes climate change, or what can still be done to limit its impacts.   If I ran a TV network that raked in millions of dollars in misleading ads from the oil, coal and gas industries, it would trouble me to go into utter silence about mentioning fossil fuels. Not the fault of the reporters, but you may want to take this up with the Home Office.

The polling makes clear that the (non-Fox-News-watching) public understands the climate is changing and that weather is getting more extreme. What’s needed now are more explanations of why the climate is changing and what we can do about it. CNN can do better!

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27 Responses to CNN Veteran Dykstra Slams Network For Climate Special Lacking ‘A Single Mention Of What Causes Climate Change’

  1. prokaryotes says:

    And the video is not online to watch …. fail

  2. Caribbean disaster readiness says:

    what do one expect from any media house in the US

  3. BillD says:

    Pretty amazing that no one asked or answered the questions: Why are we expecting more extreme weather?, why is the climate getting warmer? and Why do we expect sea level to continue to rise and for the sea level rise to accelerate?

    When I teach about climate change in part of a lecture about human impacts on the environment I talk about extreme weather, but ask students to know and understand only three basic facts: 1. CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, 2. CO2 is rapidly increasing in the atmosphere, and 3. Nearly all of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to the burning of fossil fuels. If students understand these three facts, they will be at least somewhat protected from the voices of misinformation that abound in the media. Perhaps CNN assumes that everyone understands these three facts. Testing the public on their understanding of these three points would make an interesting survey.

    • william says:

      do you also let them know that the lower the main!! so called GHG, moisture, there is in the desert the hotter it gets.

      Similar on the moon, no GHGs and in a few hrs it gets to 250 degrees,of course massive cooling at night, there again the desert goes from 100 degrees to freezing in a few hrs.

      looks like GHGs cool the earth in the daytime and slow down cooling at night.

    • Sasparilla says:

      “Perhaps CNN assumes that everyone understands these three facts.”

      Somehow I doubt it, as others have pointed it out – it probably has to do with trying not to offend certain groups of advertisers (and possibly a small vocal group of viewers).

    • dick smith says:

      Yale Pollster Anthony Lieserowitz says there are five things you need get across:

      1. Experts agree (the consenus is overwhelming)on 3 things:

      2. GW is real
      3. This time we humans did it
      4. It poses dangerous (unthinkable) risks

      5. We have solutions…if we act now.

      Leiserowitz argues (persuasively I believe) that once people understand the overwhelming scientific consensus on the next 3 points–they act. So, he calls the consensus of experts a “gateway belief”.

      See also, this superb 46-minute Bill Moyers interview of Lieserowitz this week.

      http://billmoyers.com/segment/anthony-leiserowitz-on-making-people-care-about-climate-change/

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        BillD has it right. When I was interviewing in Oz I found that those did not understand the basic science were most taken in by the deniers and rapidly saw the light when these simple facts were explained, ME

    • Dano says:

      Pretty amazing that no one asked or answered the questions: Why are we expecting more extreme weather?, why is the climate getting warmer?

      Your premise is wrong. Of course they asked the questions. The answers were too inconvenient for the corporate sponsors, so they ended up on the cutting room floor.

      Best,

      D

  4. Toby says:

    Britain’s Channel 4 showed a similar documentary last Sunday that pulled no punches. Watch here:

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/is-our-weather-getting-worse

  5. Lore says:

    We wouldn’t want to anger the sponsors, now would we? The truth in contemporary media most often plays second fiddle to the money.

  6. jean says:

    “Stateline”,a half hour PBS(OETA) show dealing with Okla state issues covered heat/drought last week..No mention of Hansen/NASA study showing that Global Warming caused the 2011 drought…I wish someone besides me would like to see Gary Mcmanus,a state climatologist go to person for the media ,would loose his job…He loves to mention La Nina ,but never Global Warming..No One but me in the entire state cares either…still…That is why I am a Doomer..

  7. So, we get rational climate news in a special. I am still waiting for the time when these memes infiltrate the business news on the tube. When Nightly Business Report, Jim Cramer’s Mad Money or CNN’s own Ali Velshi start to treat the economic impacts of climate change as just part of the normal business news, then we will have won the media battle. Until then we have to continue the fight and challenge the media to do it’s job.

  8. Joel Olson says:

    While we continue to argue the problem, we waste our time for solving it. Let’s get on with leaving the carbon in the ground, and installing distributed clean energy sources.

    And let’s have some good specifications for the National Smart Grid.

  9. David Kronner says:

    I watched a 46min interview on Bill Moyers with Mr.Leiserowitz and I thought it was very well done. Glad I didn’t waste my time with the CNN report from what I’ve read here.

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    Someone (can’t remember or re-find it) recently observed online that climate change is NOT the biggest thing on the table, it IS the table.

    Until that viewpoint is pervasive in the general population, I am pessimistic we’ll ever take anywhere near the steps needed to avoid hell and high water.

  11. Jack Burton says:

    For those interested in the ongoing extreme weather world wide, I suggest a google search on the current Australian Heat wave and wild fires. Today is seen a the most extreme fire danger ever seen in Australia in some areas. One small town out in the bush is dealing with a high of 47C today!
    Temps in the 104 to 107F are common the last few days in NSW.
    Fires today are breaking out from Tasmania to the Sydney area.
    Trust me, I have been to Australia, and the people there understand extreme heat, but this heat wave is making even the tough Aussies sit up and take notice.
    The last two years have seen extreme weather all over the globe. My own upper Midwest area on the Canadian border experienced a 24 hour downpour this summer that dropped from 15 to 20 inches of rain. Extreme? This event was over 5 times worse than any rain event ever recorded up here! Truly amazing.
    Sandy was unprecedented. The Midwest drought is still in place by and large. The Mississippi River is in danger of record lows and and end to shipping in some sections. I could go on for hours. In reality, the weather has already flipped to a totally new and unstable state. Simply look at Britain’s record rainfall in 2012. Everywhere is being affected. Unprecedented arctic sea ice melt, record melt of Greenland’s glaciers. On and on!
    Yet the reliable climate change deniers are out in force and shouting in an ever more extreme show of ignorance and foolishness. Most of these deniers are directly connected to the American Republican Party and to Fossil Fuel Corporations. These folks now present a clear and present danger to the world’s population far more dangerous than AL-Qaeda.
    One might ask what the deniers hope to gain, do they hate their own children and grandchildren. Do they wish to destroy the only place humanity has to live? Is this what being an America Republican has come down to? Really pathetic.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Update; this fire catastrophe is unfolding at a rapid rate across 3 states, which is not surprising given that it is blowing a gale here. It’s the worst fire day I can remember over such a huge area and some poor sods have been told it is too late to leave. The PM shoved it up the deniers yesterday with a blunt statement about the results of climate change which was reported on national media and we can be thankful that we saved the ABC from privatization and from any advertizing at all, ME

    • George M says:

      How can anyone deny climate change? It’s been happening for millions of years. Let’s stop it right now! In it’s tracks.

      What is your preferred temperature for the Global Average Temperature, and why?

  12. prokaryotes says:

    CNN manages it to not mention Gillard’s remarks about climate change from yesterday, yet they interviewed her

    “Firefighters battle blazes on ‘dangerous day’ in Australia”

    Record high temperatures and the delayed state of the Australian monsoon season have created a tinderbox out of large swathes of bush and scrub land across the state.
    The last four months of 2012 were “abnormally hot” across Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Meterology.

    Sorry but i refuse to link to this bs , google the headline if you care.

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    In general, when we have record heat regionally we can expect extreme events locally… theres the the link.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/2012-new-jersey-hottest-year_n_2388775.html?utm_hp_ref=climate-change

  14. Gordon says:

    This is also like talking to an alcoholic about his treatment and not talking about alcohol.
    I’m not an optimist. We’re just not good at dealing with things that have effects more than a month away.