People walk across a dried riverbed in France. The spring of 2011 was France's driest in decades and hottest in a century, drying up reservoirs and killing crops. FRANK PERRY / AFP / Getty Images

By Al Gore
June 22, 2011

The first time I remember hearing the question "is it real?" was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by "professional wrestlers" one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.

The evidence that it was real was palpable: "They're really hurting each other! That's real blood! Look a'there! They can't fake that!" On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today's language, a "narrative"), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.

But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the "rules" — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question "Is it real?" seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?

That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is "real," and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth's thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.

Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it's a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.

The referee — in this analogy, the news media — seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show — the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.

But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the "rules" of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made "legal" and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. (Question: Would Michael Jordan have been a star if he was covered by four defensive players every step he took on the basketball court?) […]

Climate of Denial


  1. Anonymous said...

    Nope. We are pretty much doomed.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    I agree with the first commentator. Too little, too late and rabid denial has already ensured that we are 100% screwed.

    It's too late to fix now, we've already built in catastrophic temperature increases which will destroy most agriculture through drought, flood and soil heating.

    The oceans will also be toast, no food sources will be found there. Acidification and fisheries collapse will see to that.

    Humans are stupid. Dumb beyond belief. We're "debating" the evidence (or really stupidly, the endless straw arguments) while every day we inch close and close to our own destruction.

    That's like arguing whether or not the house is on fire. There's smoke, flames, burned material, but the deniers keep claiming, "Nope, not happening. That's not a fire at all".

    Everyone is left standing around, nobody even calls the fire department.  


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