In an extended interview posted today, Bill Blakemore at ABC News talks with scientist Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, about the global warming disinformation campaign, attacks on climate scientists (from Congress to hate mail), the shortcomings of media coverage, the influence of the fossil fuel interests, and the growing urgency of action to limit the damage from anthropogenic global climatic disruption. Links to video and transcript below.
Bill Blakemore is a network correspondent and veteran journalist who goes to the core of a story and sorts out the credible from the not-credible sources in reporting it. He has been at the forefront of pushing US network television to cover the climate change story seriously and give it the prominence it calls for.
His interview with Michael Mann has been posted in a five-part video, with each part accompanied by a transcript. Prof. Mann gives concise, clear answers that go straight to key points. We have a few comments and footnotes we could add, but we'll save that for a later post, with one exception. In Part 3 Blakemore and Mann have this exchange:
Blakemore: Now it seems to me that the job of protecting us, most of all belongs to the president, to the governments of the world on this. Do you agree on this?
Mann: I do. And you know, I think the president… President Barack Obama appointed wonderful people to cabinet level positions of authority on matters of science policy, and so… You know, John Holdren he appointed to head up the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Jane Lubchenko to head up NOAA, Steven Chu to head up the Department of Energy, Lisa Jackson — EPA…
And I was asked about this a few weeks ago during the NCAA tournament… And the analogy that I used was that, you know, it’s like President Obama appointed this all-star basketball team, but he wouldn’t let them go out on the court and play…
Mann: … (that’s how it’s felt.) I think there… Just as we scientists have been subject to this massive assault by a disinformation effort, a well funded, industry-funded disinformation effort to discredit us, to intimidate us… the same thing I believe, is happening, you know, at a larger scale. And I believe that the Obama administration probably decided they didn’t have the political capital to fight this massive disinformation campaign with huge amounts of special interest money running commercials across the nation aimed at disinforming Americans about the challenge we face, about the energy choices that we should be talking about.
Blakemore: So, when you say “special interest,” you mean fossil fuel money?
Mann: Fossil fuel interests.
Blakemore: Coal and oil companies?
Yes -- though of course the question of how Obama is handling the climate change problem can use a more detailed discussion. CSW readers will know that, while covering, exposing, and dismissing the global warming denial machine, including its mouthpieces in Congress, we have also hammered Obama for his evasiveness in discussing the implications of climate change with the American public -- knowing that he knows better but has made a political calculation.
So: What should we expect, or call for, in how Obama handles this during the election campaign? And if he is re-elected? How is the Obama problem to be dealt with? What should the science community be saying about him, and to him?
And what should the science community be saying, privately and publicly, to John Holdren, Jane Lubchenco, and Steven Chu about this? Holdren, on a two-hour ABC-TV special, "Earth 2100," aired in June 2009, said: “If we’re still dragging our feet in 2015, it really becomes almost impossible for the world to avert a degree of climate change that we simply will not be able to manage.” What is his public responsibility as a truth-teller, who is currently embedded in a White House that doesn't want to talk about climate change -- certainly not in the terms Dr. Holdren knows need to be used?
A few earlier posts on issues discussed in the interview: