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JOURNALISM’S CLIMATE CRUSADE

Posted on: June 24, 2019

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Bill McKibben

This post is transcript of a video posted on Twitter by @rmack2x on 6/24/2019. Only the presentations by Katrina vanden Heuvel and Bill McKibben were transcribed and they are presented below. The presentation by Katrina was live. That by Bill was via video link. A snapshot of the Bill McKibben video link is presented below. After the presentation, Katrina played a Trump video for the audience. A snapshot of the Trump video appears below.

It is hoped that this post will shed some light on alarmist climate news in the media. The reason for that appears to be that the media has enlisted as climate activists. Bill McKibben is a high profile link between news media and climate activism but the connection is found to be much more well developed, formal, deliberate, and a carefully planned objective of journalism in the USA.

Deliberate climate activism by the media compromises what has been traditionally assumed, that the function of the news media is objective news reporting independent of the personal feelings, emotions, and activism needs of the journalist. In other words, it is generally assumed that the journalist should remove himself or herself from the situation and not get emotionally and personally involved in reporting the news.

For example, in matters of AGW science, journalists may quote climate scientists but may not make such evaluations of their own particularly when the statements are conclusions drawn from extreme weather events or when they have a fear mongering characteristic.  And yet here we have a journalism conference hosted by the Columbia University School of Journalism that lays out a formal plan of deliberate climate activism to hype Catastrophic AGW apparently because such activism is consistent with the personal feelings and desires of the journalists in attendance. It appears that climate change news in the media cannot be taken as objective news reporting but must be evaluated as climate activism even more so than the alarmist claims of climate scientists.

 

Katrina vanden Heuvel  &  Bill McKibben

 

Bill McKibben Video Link Snapshot 

 

 

Snapshot of the Trump Video

 

 

 

[LIST OF POSTS ON THIS SITE]

 

 

CJR Event on Covering Climate Change, May, 2019
Location: Columbia University School of Journalism

The conference is sponsored by The Guardian, The Nation, the Rockefellers, and the Podcast “The Mothers of Invention, a feminist prism through which to look at climate”.

  1. Presentation by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher, The Nation: You wouldn’t be attending this conference if you didn’t understand how urgent the climate crisis is, how late the hour, how central our work as journalists in confronting this emergency. And yes, emergency is the right word. The Earth has been overheating for decades but now we are seeing the effects in real time.
  2. Most recently massive floods inundated the Midwest, overturning, overrunning levees, punishing farmers and rural communities, and racking up billions of dollars’ worth of economic damage. Overseas, the people of Mozambique were hit last week by the second major cyclone in a month. An estimated 900 people have died in that island nation and countless more suffering disease and homelessness. I could cite a dozen more examples but I won’t because the point of today’s conference is for us to talk as journalists on how our profession should respond to this historical moment.
  3. We are issuing a clarion call to US news outlets to rise to the climate challenge. At a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. The silence is most striking among commercial news outlets especially television. Too often ratings take precedence over responsibility. But to be clear, this is structural, not a personal responsibility problem. How to find a way within the existing constraints to do exemplary coverage of the climate crisis is the central topic of our time today because never has been it more important for American journalism to remember first principles.
  4. Our institutional role within this democracy is to inform the powerful, and the people, and hold the powerful fully accountable. We envision today’s conference as the beginning. The beginning of a conversation America’s journalists and news organizations must have with one another and with the public, because we’re supposed to serve.
  5. To cover this uncoiling, rapidly uncoiling, crisis emergency is central to our task. Judging by the coverage today much of the US media still don’t get it. There is a runaway train racing toward us and its name is climate change. That is not alarmism. It is scientific fact.
  6. Humanity has just 12 years, 12 years to slash emissions of heat trapping gases in half or face unimaginable catastrophe. That’s what the UN climate scientists told us last fall. They added that achieving this goal will require radically transforming energy, agriculture, and other few sectors of the world economy. Our conviction in organizing this conference is that the media sector must be transformed as well. Today’s conference is a first step in that direction.
  7. The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review are committed to continuing this work through a project we are calling “Covering Climate Now”. We will work with journalists and news organizations throughout the country to dramatically improve coverage of the climate emergency. Whether you work in TV, radio, print, online, whether your audience is local, regional, or national, we invite you to join this project, add your interests and experiences, and yes, your criticisms, to the work ahead. We can’t succeed without you.
  8. Unless the American people get better informed about the realities of the climate crisis and the solutions, there’s little hope of building the public pressure to push government and corporate decision makers to make the big, bold, rapid changes necessary. It won’t be easy but we don’t have much choice. If we don’t attempt what seems impossible to those who think in small incremental ways, we will face the unthinkable. If we don’t get the climate story right, and fast, nothing else will matter. Plays the Trump video.
  9. Presentation by Mark Hertsgaard: News Reporter, The Nation: Introduces Bill McKibben, journalist, and founder of 350.org. Author of “Falter”, “The End of Nature” and a number of other works. Bill had been covering climate change for 30 years.  Bill McKibben participates remotely over the internet.
  10. Presentation by Bill McKibben, journalist and founder of 350.org: Climate change for 30 years has not been journalism’s finest hour. We know now much more of the behind the scene story than we did even a few years ago. Investigative reporting at InsideClimateNews of the LA Times and Columbia Journalism School helped us a few years ago to understand what was going on at the beginning of this story.
  11. What was going on was that the fossil fuel industry knew pretty much everything there was to know about climate change in the 1980s. This makes sense in retrospect. These were the biggest companies in the world at the time with great scientists and their product was carbon. So it makes sense that they would do the work to find out what was going on. They did do the work. They established early in the 1980s that the planet was going to warm and indeed the executives of the major fossil fuel companies believed the predictions of their scientists. Exxon began building their drilling rigs to compensate for the rise in temperature they knew was in the offing.
  12. What they didn’t do of course was to tell any of the rest of us. Instead they did just the opposite. We know now from whistle blowers and archived documents and things, that beginning right after James Hansen’s Congressional Testimony on global warming in 1988, the oil industry began the project of setting up an architecture of denial and misinformation. And the strategy they hit on was the same strategy that the tobacco industry had used, and indeed they hired many of the veterans from that industry.
  13. The strategy was to try and pretend that there was doubt about the situation. Climate change was new enough so that it was a fairly plausible strategy. For a few years as scientists were getting their ducks in a row, it’s understandable that journalism fell for the creation of what was in essence a phony debate. The strategy was to create an impression that we didn’t know if global warming was real.
  14. The phoniness of this debate is that both sides knew the answer to that question right at the beginning. It’s just that one of them was willing to mount a PR offensive in the opposite direction of the truth. That PR offensive was obviously extremely successful. The way that it manifested for more than two decades in journalism was an endless collection of “one the one hand, abd on the other hand
  15. For the negative stories about climate change the same three or four or five climate denying science skeptics were given the same space and breath and legitimacy as the vast and robust intensity that had been developed around climate science. In other words, this was one of the cases where the PR guys did in the journalists. They got the better of us for a very long time.
  16. And that was tragic because the three decades essentially that we wasted in this phony debate were the three decades that we most needed in order to become journalists of climate change. That’s now past. There’s no use crying over it. The question now is how to proceed and tell this story.
  17. And there’s a way in which the story has to be told with reference to those three decades because the wasted time that we spent has meant that we have fewer options than we used to have. One of the things I have to restrain myself from doing, and I don’t always succeed, is oh if only you had listened to be back then.
  18. Thirty years ago when we were first writing about these things, there were a number of relatively small changes in the necessary course correction. We didn’t do those things and so now all the things that we have to do are dramatic and difficult. That will lead to the next challenge for journalism which is portraying, helping people understand, why those large changes have to come now. Why it is not enough to begin taking small steps around the edges.
  19. I just want to say that I guess better late than never has to be the watchword. The good news for is, for journalists, that this is, beyond any doubt, the most compelling story of our time. It is the story by which our era will be remembered and it touches on every single part of human life and hence every beat that journalists cover. It is increasingly at the center of our economic life, our political life, and the center of our theological life.
  20. Religious environmentalism emerges as a force. The possibilities now for getting the coverage right are crucial. I don’t mean parroting what movements are saying although it is pretty important to acknowledge that this is a case where the movements got it right long before others did. What I mean is taking on this story with the full weight and gravity and seriousness that it deserves, and somehow allowing the American people to catch up to those three decades of wasted time of weak coverage of this most central of questions.
  21. Comment by David Albert (below): I am left aghast at the hubristic error in these two articles. How can people who intend to tell the truth be so wrong? How can they be seeking facts and find such nonsense? Maybe they have no such intention and aren’t really seeking. Has anyone challenged McKibben to produce any of the “misleading” documents he asserts the fossil fuel industry produced? Does Ms. Heuvel really think that our CO2 caused these catastrophes? She clearly implies they would never have happened without our fossil fuel use. A journalist with no knowledge of the past is one I would not trust for factual reporting let alone opinion on the interpretation of her reports.

 

 

[LIST OF POSTS ON THIS SITE]

 

 

5 Responses to "JOURNALISM’S CLIMATE CRUSADE"

I am left aghast at the hubristic error in these two articles. How can people who intend to tell the truth be so wrong? How can they be seeking facts and find such nonsense? Maybe they have no such intention and aren’t really seeking. Has anyone challenged McKibben to produce any of the “misleading” documents he asserts the fossil fuel industry produced? Does Ms. Heuvel really think that our CO2 caused these catastrophes? She clearly implies they would never have happened without our fossil fuel use. A journalist with no knowledge of the past is one I would not trust for factual reporting let alone opinion on the interpretation of her reports.

great comment
thanks
i tweeted it

[…] and blogs but it continues to roll forward unscathed with full support of the news media [Related Post] and gains momentum. The support of the media includes the the marginalization and even […]

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