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.