PBS has the Real “Don’t Look Up” Movie for Earth Day

April 18, 2022

Someone has finally brought a dramatic treatment to one of the key chapters in the sorry story of mankind’s woeful response to climate change.

PBS:

This conspiracy thriller and cautionary tale tells the story of the 2009 Climategate scandal, when the media storm undermined confidence in the science of climate change. Professor Phil Jones and his team at the University of East Anglia find themselves in the middle of a major investigation with their 30 years of research work being questionedin the first ‘fakenews’ attack.

This conspiracy thriller and cautionary tale tells the story of the 2009 Climategate scandal, when the media storm undermined confidence in the science of climate change. Professor Phil Jones and his team at the University of East Anglia find themselves in the middle of a major investigation with their 30 years of research work being questionedin the first ‘fakenews’ attack.

Here’s hoping this production can make a dent in public consciousness. Without Leo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence in the cast, that’s a heavy lift. Let’s do what we can.

In addition, there will be a three part Frontline examination of Big Oil’s role in squelching discussion and concern about climate change.

Arizona PBS:

This Earth Month, FRONTLINE will present The Power of Big Oil — an epic three-part documentary series investigating the decades-long failure to confront the threat and increasing impacts of climate change, and the role of the fossil fuel industry and one of its biggest players, ExxonMobil.

From a team of award-winning filmmakers and journalists, including Dan Edge, Jane McMullen, Gesbeen Mohammad, Robin Barnwell, Sara Obeidat, Emma Supple and Russell Gold, The Power of Big Oil offers a deeply researched investigation of what scientists, corporations and politicians have known about human-caused climate change for decades, and the missed opportunities to mitigate the problem.

The docuseries spans more than 40 years and multiple presidential administrations, drawing on newly uncovered documents and more than 100 interviews with key players, including scientists who worked inside and outside the industry, politicians, executives, and lobbyists — some speaking for the first time who express regret.

“I had misgivings about just telling half the story. … I wish I weren’t a part of that, looking back. I wish I weren’t a part of, of delaying action. You know, clearly on the wrong side of history,” says Paul Bernstein, former economic consultant for Charles River Associates, a firm that worked for the American Petroleum Institute.

The Power of Big Oil charts when the fossil fuel industry began researching climate change and its potentially catastrophic effects, and, as demand for and dependence on oil increased, investigates the lengths the industry went to cast doubt on the science, influence public perception, and block action from the 1980s to the present day.

“I’m 83 years old. Three or four decades ago, we predicted it,” says Martin Hoffert, a former NASA physicist who worked as a consultant for Exxon in the 1980s. “To have those predictions come true, that’s sort of the golden icon that you look for as a scientist. However, as a human being, and as an inhabitant of planet Earth, I’m horrified to watch the lack of response to this.”

Even as the evidence grew more certain about climate change in the new millennium, The Power of Big Oil examines the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy.

“The industry is a great lobbyist,” says former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman. “There was obviously no appetite for any mention of climate change. That was it. I mean, you just didn’t talk about it. And I just had had enough.”

UPDATE:

Many well informed observers think the 2009 email hack was a Russian Op. The emails showed up first on a Russian server – and then spread to the reliable “conservative” channels throughout the west.
Then, like now, Fox News and the right wing echo chamber was a convenient amplifier of the Russian message. I am a subscriber to this view, and said so on an NPR call-in program following the 2016 election, below.

The climate-gate hack was a road test for further Russian disinformation campaigns, which succeeded, I’m sure, beyond anyone’s dreams. Clearly it emboldened them to aim at even bigger targets.

4 Responses to “PBS has the Real “Don’t Look Up” Movie for Earth Day”

  1. Roger Walker Says:

    And about time too! We hear a lot of propaganda about how ‘we’ can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but next to nothing about how governments are failing to make it harder for fossil fuel giants to go on producing their foul wares. In a passage you recently quoted, Michael Mann had this to say:

    “Even now, big fossil fuel companies continue to explore for oil and gas and build new infrastructure, with the support of big banks. The top four banks making these investments are American: JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. New oil and gas projects are being planned and approved as we speak. The world is on track to produce twice the fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with the internationally agreed upon 1.5°C target.”

    Peter, what follows is completely off topic. Please forgive me for using your blog as an open letter board. I’m hoping one of your readers might help me out with this.

    I’m puzzled.

    There is much talk about the need to reduce CO2e emissions and the imminent danger of tipping points; less talk about the current atmospheric level of 415ppm which―even if we were to cease all emissions tomorrow―will continue to warm the planet for many decades to come; much less about the assumption that the full effects of 1.2° of warming are already visible or predictable, whereas it seems reasonable to suppose that that one degree is still working its way through the inertia of System Earth; and nothing at all about the single most important tipping point of all, which is already way behind us.

    For 2.5 million years or so, once the tectonic plates adopted their present configuration, the Earth’s climate followed a constant pattern of (roughly) 100,000-year cycles, with long glacial periods punctuated by much shorter inter-glacials. CO2 migrated between ocean and atmosphere, according to temperature; but the total amount of CO2 within the system remained constant. In other words, atmospheric CO2 was driven by temperature. Then came Sapiens. 250 years ago, we began injecting new CO2 into the atmosphere, and we’ve been doing so more and more industriously ever since. So much so, in fact, that we’ve knocked the whole system out of kilter: temperature is now driven by atmospheric CO2. This is a change of geological proportions and it seems to me that, therefore, nothing will ever be the same again. As with evolution, you can’t roll the film back and be sure the scenario will play out the same way.

    Or have I got this completely wrong?


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