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The Doubt Machine: Inside The Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science​

Narrated by esteemed actor Emma Thompson, ​the documentary "The Doubt Machine: Inside the Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science" reveals how the Koch Brothers have used their vast wealth to ensure the American political system takes no action on climate change​,​ ​and are​ ​attempting​ to buy the 2016 Congressional elections

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Scientists say Temperatures Will Rise to Critical 2° by 2050

The Real News Network is Building a Global Climate Change Bureau

2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since scientists began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is shaping up to be even warmer. This will be the first time that we've seen three consecutive years with record-breaking temperatures.

A temperature increase of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels will now be reached much sooner than earlier predicted according to a report by seven leading climate scientists.

“The 1.5°C target could be reached by the early 2030’s and the 2°C target by 2050” says the report that included Sir Robert Watson, former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The scientists say that even if all the pledges made by the signatory countries to the Paris agreement are fully implemented, climate will pass this dangerous mark in 34 years.

This is a threshold that most scientists have warned cannot be crossed without dire consequences, including a rise in sea levels of several feet that would flood many coastal cities in the U.S., longer droughts, more intense heat waves that cause a major disruption in the world's food supply, and large migrations of people from countries of the global south.

It is also a point where it becomes far more difficult to reverse the warming trend. Some scientists suggest temperatures by the end of the century could rise as much as 4-6°C above pre-industrial levels.

The report titled The Truth About Climate Change says, "Much of the public believes that climate change is only going to happen by the end of the century," and that this is a misunderstanding of the urgency. Unless there is a dramatic change in current public policy, most people alive today will live to see the 2°C threshold crossed.

The report continues: "Climate change is happening now, and much faster than anticipated." Climate change related floods, droughts, more intense storms, heat waves, and wildfires have already had devastating effects on livelihoods, infrastructure, and lives."

If the 2°C threshold is to be avoided, the report calls for far more aggressive targets than those set by the Paris Agreement and for that action to begin immediately. The report says, "To meet the 2°C target, global CO2 emissions should be net zero by 2060-2075."

The threat is catastrophic, the science overwhelming. So why aren't solutions to the climate change crisis at the top of the political agenda?

Why don't we see millions of people in the streets demanding decisive action? Why isn't this a major issue in the election debates? Why are politicians who deny the existence of human-caused climate change even elected to office?

The lack of American public engagement in the climate crisis is a global concern. If U.S. policy doesn't change, human life as we know it and thousands of other species will not survive.

According to a Yale survey, 70% of Americans now believe global warming is real. If so, why isn't there more political pressure to face up to the crisis?

Dig further into the numbers and the state of public opinion is more fully revealed.

- Of those who believe climate change is real, only half (53%) think that global warming is mostly human caused. One in three (34%) believe it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment.

- Only about one in ten Americans understand that nearly all climate scientists (more than 90%) are convinced that human-caused global warming is happening.

- Over half of Americans (58%) say they are at least "somewhat worried" about global warming, but only 16% say they are "very worried."

Why are only 16% of people surveyed very worried about what 90% of scientists think is a catastrophic threat?

The Koch Brothers' war on science certainly plays a major role in promoting doubt about the overwhelming scientific evidence of human-caused climate change. They spend millions financing witch hunts against climate scientists and funding "research" designed to confuse public opinion.

The Kochs and other billionaires with a vested interest pour hundreds of millions into the coffers of politicians willing to obstruct legislation that would regulate fossil fuel and promote a green sustainable economy.

Perhaps as responsible for the gap between public opinion and scientific evidence is corporate television news, "The gatekeeper of public consciousness."

Firstly, they ignore the crisis. The report cited above was not the lead story on television newscasts. We can't find evidence it was carried by any U.S. television news outlet at all.

According to a Media Matters report, the four major corporate TV networks aired a total 146 minutes of climate change coverage in 2015. ABC only aired 13 minutes of coverage and Fox's coverage consisted mostly of "criticism of efforts to address climate change."

The report continues:

CNN aired almost five times as much oil industry advertising as climate change-related coverage in the one-week periods following the announcements that 2015 was the hottest year on record and February 2016 was the most abnormally hot month on record.

Only 16% of Americans are "very worried" about global warming because corporate TV news doesn't want us to worry about it.

Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, says:

While US foreign policy is mostly responsible for the growth of militant terrorist groups, the threat of a nuclear terrorist attack is existential. Think about what we'll do when 500,000 people are killed in New York City. We will declare martial law nationwide. We will be the most draconian tyranny you've ever seen on the face of this earth. But still I consider climate change a greater danger because it is a threat to the very survival of the human race.

What are the reasons for corporate TV's lack of interest in the major news story of the century?The obvious answers are pressure from certain advertisers, the interests of corporate ownership, and the political intrigues of the fossil fuel industry.

But I think it goes even deeper.

In 2009, two years after the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report said, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," TV coverage of climate change was at its height - a whopping 205 minutes for the entire year. Even former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared in an ad with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling for action on climate warming.

Then something happened.

A large section of the elites looked at what it would really take to meet the target scientists said was necessary to mitigate and stop the terrible consequences of climate change. They said, "No way."

The transformation required to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and move to a green economy would change who has power and how business is done. There is no way to achieve the necessary reduction in carbon emissions without serious government regulation, a strengthening of the public sector, and massive public investment. All this requires a reduction in the political power of the fossil fuel industry and the financial elites associated with it.

Gingrich renounced the Pelosi ad in 2011.

The majority of the billionaires who control the commanding heights of the economy and politics are more interested in short-term profits and immediate personal gratification than some "long-term" threat. They either fight against all climate change legislative action or support relatively weak measures to reduce carbon emissions - better than nothing, but far from what scientists say is required.

For most people of wealth it comes down to a simple calculation: My family and I will be ok. As the IPCC puts it: "Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development."

People who understand the scale of the systemic risk are marginalized by corporate media and thus are marginalized in politics.

A critical task in engaging large numbers of ordinary people in fighting and voting for a rational climate change policy is breaking the corporate monopoly on daily video news. We must create an independent, uncompromising source of global climate change news and investigative reports.

The very first story ever produced by TRNN in 2007 was an interview series with George Monbiot on the urgent climate change threat. We produced a series titled "Who Cares About Bangladesh" soon afterwards.

We reported directly from the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris.

We did in-depth interviews with climatologists like Dr. Alan Robock and Dr. Michael Mann who both worked on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Economist Robert Pollin has appeared in numerous interviews with specific proposals for a transition to a green economy.

We recently interviewed the esteemed actor Emma Thompson while she was onboard a Greenpeace vessel in the Arctic.

We've reported on environmental activism from all over the world.

We will soon be releasing the documentary "The Doubt Machine: The Koch Brothers War on Climate Science" narrated by Emma Thompson.

With our limited resources we have produced more than 535 reports on climate change since the fall of 2007 when we started our service. In 2015, we produced 1029 minutes of programming about climate change. That's more than seven times of all the major networks combined.

We have produced more than 10,000 reports and interviews overall since we began our daily production. We also cover international and national news and now have a bureau in Baltimore reporting on the problems and solutions to the crisis of urban America. Millions of people have watched. We average 1.5 million views per month.

While we have worked hard to keep a focus on climate change, what we have accomplished is far from enough. We need a Climate Bureau with sufficient resources to become a major daily video climate news service for online and TV.

The power of daily video news is what shapes most people's world view and the field is dominated by news organizations that will not seriously address the problem or are in fact, part of the "doubt machine."

It is clear that a radical change in the way the world produces and uses energy is required. Currently, about 82% of energy produced in the world is obtained by burning fossil fuels. How we produce energy without burning fossil fuels will be critically important as the world population is expected to grow by 40% to 10 billion by 2050.

The Real News appreciates the urgency and crying need for effective solutions. That's why we are creating a Global Climate Change Bureau (GCCB).

The Global Climate Change Bureau will:

- Investigate and report on the urgency of climate change as reported by peer reviewed scientists

- Debate what are real solutions and what's just financialization (green-washing)

- Question the efficacy of cap and trade, carbon taxes, or other market-based reforms

- Consider what regulations are required and what they should look like

- Investigate controversial but likely necessary technologies to reduce CO2 including carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy combined with CCS, and geo-engineering of various types

- Analyze the efficacy of massive reforestation and conversion of land into forests, and other large-scale utilization of negative emission technologies

- Research model public policy around the world including local community initiatives that can be brought to scale

- Examine plans for transitioning to a green and sustainable economy

- Work with climate news and scientific organizations to aggregate, and popularize through video, the best climate change reporting around the world

To deliver this work we will:

- Develop a daily ten minute headline news show

- Produce 7-10 minute video reports daily covering scientific evidence of the current consequences and long term threat of climate change

- Produce a daily discussion/debate show covering urgency and solutions

- Publish one investigative video report a day about effective solutions

- Create local bureaus and a global network of freelance content producers

- Aggregate the best reporting in video and print about climate change

- Provide easy access to our content to other websites, broadcasters and the public, thus creating a central hub for information about climate change and environmental issues

- Have its own dedicated page within the TRNN website and a dedicated Facebook page

- Utilize a marketing and social media team that will make sure the content is widely distributed on the web, mobile and on TV, waged with all the intensity and skills of a political campaign

The Bureau will be based at our studios in Baltimore and we plan to establish climate news offices early on in Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and Johannesburg. We have a production partner now in New Delhi and are developing relationships in Brazil. We plan to build a network of correspondents in other key locations around the world.

In the U.S. we are working on capturing key local news markets. These are the "weak links" in the corporate media chain. Starting in Baltimore, we will build a national audience that can compete with corporate media. Climate news must be integrated into a news culture that also addresses people's immediate concerns for a better life.

We must breakthrough to a mass audience by linking the fight to save the planet with solutions to the day-to-day economic struggles of people to survive. People need to understand that the issue of a green and sustainable economy is inseparable from a transition to a more equitable and just society.

With your support we will make the Global Climate Change Bureau a reality.

1 All survey results quoted are from “Climate Change in the American Mind”, March 2016, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

 

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