By Ted MacDonald
Major UN Report Warns of Extinction Crisis That Will Have Major Impacts on Humanity<p>A <a href="https://www.ipbes.net/sites/default/files/downloads/spm_unedited_advance_for_posting_htn.pdf" target="_blank">summary report</a> released by the UN on May 6 finds that about 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction due to expansive human development. The current extinction rate is "at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years." The global assessment, compiled by hundreds of experts with data drawn from thousands of studies, is the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-environment-biodiversity/scientists-warn-a-million-species-at-risk-of-extinction-idUSKCN1SC0PJ" target="_blank">most comprehensive</a> look yet at the rapid decline in planetary biodiversity. The report points to a number of human activities that are affecting biodiversity, including overfishing, poaching, farming, mining, logging and polluting. Climate change is also playing a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/biodiversity-extinction-united-nations.html" target="_blank">large role</a> in fueling the biodiversity crisis. And the loss of biodiversity in turn <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/05/06/one-million-species-face-extinction-un-panel-says-humans-will-suffer-result/?utm_term=.74191fedeb67" target="_blank">threatens</a> humans by endangering water and food supplies and <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/05/06/720654249/1-million-animal-and-plant-species-face-extinction-risk-u-n-report-says?t=1557258950695" target="_blank">heightening</a> the risks from floods and hurricanes.</p><p>The full report is set to be published later in 2019. But even with this summary, the authors show that the biodiversity and climate crises are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/03/climate-crisis-is-about-to-put-humanity-at-risk-un-scientists-warn" target="_blank">directly intertwined</a>, ultimately painting a grim picture about the state of our natural world.</p>
Only One of Three Broadcast Nightly News Shows Covered the UN Biodiversity Assessment<p>Media Matters analyzed the major broadcast networks' nightly news programs on May 6, as well as cable news coverage from 4 p.m. to midnight.</p><p>On the broadcast networks, neither ABC's<em> World News Tonight </em>nor NBC<em> Nightly News </em>mentioned the UN biodiversity assessment. Significant segments on these networks instead focused on a Russian airplane fire, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen reporting to prison, and the birth of a royal baby in Britain. CBS<em> Evening News </em>was the only broadcast nightly news program to air a segment on the biodiversity report.</p><p>It should come as no surprise that ABC's flagship news program failed to cover the report; the network's news shows consistently lag behind their broadcast competitors in covering climate change. In 2018, ABC aired <a href="https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2019/03/11/How-broadcast-TV-networks-covered-climate-change-in-2018/223076#ABC%20bad%20-%20A2" target="_blank">less than 11 minutes</a> of climate coverage on its nightly and Sunday morning news programs, far less than its counterparts. In fact, ABC has spent less time on climate coverage than CBS and NBC <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.mediamatters.org/drupal/s3fs-public/filesUpload/2017-climate-chart-9.png" target="_blank">every</a> <a href="https://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/uploader/image/2017/03/23/climate1.png" target="_blank">year</a> <a href="https://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/uploader/image/2015/01/22/Total_Coverage_Of_Climate_Change_In_2013_And_2014.jpg" target="_blank">since 2013</a>.</p>
On Cable, MSNBC Failed to Mention the Biodiversity Report in Its Prime-Time Coverage<p>None of the prime-time news shows on MSNBC on May 6 mentioned the UN biodiversity assessment. Much of the news coverage on the network that night focused on the Mueller report.</p><p>The only prime-time cable shows to mention the global assessment were CNN's <em>The Lead with Jake Tapper </em>and Fox News' <em>Special Report with Bret Baier</em>. Coverage on <em>The Lead</em> was straightforward, while <em>Special Report</em>'s coverage was riddled with skepticism. Baier, who is <a href="https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/03/07/foxs-news-team-essential-cog-corrupt-propaganda-machine/223071" target="_blank">billed</a> as one of Fox's "news"-side reporters, began <a href="https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/05/07/Foxs-flagship-hard-news-show-hosts-a-climate-change-denier-to-downplay-major-UN-report-abo/223639" target="_blank">the segment</a> by saying, "Many environmentalists are in a panic tonight over a new report," but "as in all such cases, some humans say the report and the response are exaggerations." The segment included commentary from <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/marc-morano" target="_blank">industry-funded</a> climate denier Marc Morano, who has no background in science. Morano downplayed the report and accused the UN of being a "self-interested lobbying organization." (The Morano footage had run previously on another of Fox's "news"-side programs, <em>Shepard Smith Reporting</em>.)</p>
By Neglecting a Major Report About Threats to Life on Earth, TV Networks Are Failing Their Viewers<p>The extinction of threatened species will have serious human consequences. One takeaway from the UN assessment is the need to promote a better understanding of the fact that nature is the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/ipbes-un-biodiversity-report-warns-one-million-species-at-risk/" target="_blank">foundation</a> for human development and all life on Earth. The <a href="https://www.cjr.org/special_report/climate-change-media.php" target="_blank">media has a responsibility</a> to help build an informed citizenry that understands the world it inhabits. By giving this report far too little attention, top TV networks have failed their audiences.</p>
Methodology<p>Media Matters analyzed coverage on May 6 on the major broadcast networks' nightly news programs (ABC's <em>World News Tonight</em>, CBS <em>Evening News</em>, and NBC <em>Nightly News</em>) and on shows airing from 4 p.m. to midnight on the major cable news networks (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC). We identified segments on the UN biodiversity assessment by searching IQ Media and Nexis for the terms (nature or biodiversity or extinction or extinct or climate or species or planet) and (report or study).</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Katie Sullivan and Lis Power
On Tuesday, Harvard researchers published a study estimating that approximately 5,000 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The same day, ABC canceled Roseanne Barr's eponymous show Roseanne after Barr sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. Cable news covered Barr's tweet and her show's cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.
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From the Dec. 2 edition of CNN Newsroom:
Clarissa Ward: Michael Mann is one of the country's top climate scientists. He has testified before Congress about the threat posed by climate change.
By Evlondo Cooper
Roy Moore, Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, has drawn media attention for his extreme and dangerous views on homosexuality, birtherism, and the role of Christianity in government (even though much of the coverage has been inadequate and misleadingly framed). But one of his extreme positions has received almost no major media attention at all: his absolute denial of climate science.
Media Matters has found that, from the time Moore announced his candidacy on April 26 to Oct. 31, the major broadcast evening news shows, prime-time cable news programs and national newspapers have all neglected to report on Moore's views on climate change, one of the most significant issues he would face if elected to the U.S. Senate. Over the same period, four of the top five largest-circulation newspapers in Alabama also failed to report on Moore and climate change.
The Montgomery Advertiser is the outlier: The Alabama newspaper asked Moore's campaign about climate change but didn't receive an answer. In July, the paper ran an article about climate change and the Senate race, reporting that "Moore's campaign declined to answer questions on the subject." In August, the Advertiser again reported that Moore "declined to answer questions on the issue."
Both Advertiser articles refer to Moore's campaign website, which lists a brief position on energy but makes no mention of the climate: "To gain independence from foreign oil, we need to foster development of our own natural resources involving nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuels. Coal mining and oil drilling should be encouraged, subject only to reasonable regulations."
However, despite his recent reticence on the subject, Moore has made his climate denial clear in the past. In 2009, he published an op-ed about climate change on fringe website WorldNetDaily, as HuffPost's Alexander C. Kaufman recently pointed out. From the WND op-ed:
"Not only is there no constitutional authority for Congress to regulate carbon emissions, but the premise of 'global warming' and 'climate change' upon which such environmental theories are based does not have the support of a scientific consensus.
Not only do scientists disagree on 'global warming,' but there is little hard evidence that carbon emissions cause changes to the global climate."
This is an extreme manifestation of climate science denial, and it's outright false.
Moore—who identifies as a Southern Baptist and addressed the Southern Baptist Convention's Pastors' Conference in 2005—has a denialist position on climate change science that aligns with the convention's stance, as do his positions on same-sex marriage and displaying the Ten Commandments in government buildings. In 2007, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution on global warming that cast doubt on climate science and opposed climate action:
"WHEREAS, Many scientists reject the idea of catastrophic human-induced global warming;
RESOLVED, That we consider proposals to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions based on a maximum acceptable global temperature goal to be very dangerous, since attempts to meet the goal could lead to a succession of mandates of deeper cuts in emissions, which may have no appreciable effect if humans are not the principal cause of global warming, and could lead to major economic hardships on a worldwide scale;"
And in December 2016, as Kaufman reported, 12 former Southern Baptist Convention presidents joined other evangelical leaders in signing a letter in support of Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, defending Pruitt's call for "a continuing debate" on climate science.
Mainstream media have a history of inadequate reporting on climate change, especially during political campaigns. But global warming is expected to have serious negative effects on Alabama, including more severe drought, sea-level rise, and increased dangerous heat days, and many national and international leaders have called climate change one of the greatest challenges of our time.
In order to provide a full, fair picture of the Alabama Senate race and Moore's fitness to be a senator, media should report on his climate denial in addition to his other extreme and disturbing beliefs. And there's a clear contrast to draw, as Moore's Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, has made addressing climate change a key part of his platform.
Methodology: Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of print and television outlets using the search terms "Roy Moore" and "climate change" or "global warming." Our search covered the time period between April 26, 2017, the date Roy Moore announced his candidacy, and Oct. 31, 2017. For television, we searched transcripts of the broadcast evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC and transcripts of prime-time, weekday programs on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. For print coverage, we searched pieces published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Birmingham News, Press-Register (Mobile), The Huntsville Times, The Tuscaloosa News and Montgomery Advertiser. We also searched Factiva for pieces published in The Wall Street Journal.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Media Matters for America.
From the Sept. 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): We know Hollywood has got left-wing bias. The media has got left-wing bias. Higher education, universities and colleges. But what we're looking at today is not even just that. It's high schools, it's junior highs, and parents need to be engaged and aware. What's your advice for them?
JULIE GUNLOCK: Well, you're right. More and more now these schools, elementary schools, middle schools are taking on the role—are really supplanting parents. You look at schools today. Kids can be dropped off at 6:30 in the morning. They get three meals a day. There's after care. There's even health care services at some schools. So, really schools have tried more and more to take on the role of parenting, and now we're seeing it in political issues. They're telling children this is how you should think about certain issues. This is how you should believe. This is the correct way to think on these issues. It's very disturbing, and parental rights are absolutely left out of the picture.
HEGSETH: We see it more and more every year. California's being criticized for allowing transgender issues to be taught in the classroom.
HEGSETH: A New York school board wants to include climate change in what they're instructing their students.
HEGSETH: You say parents need to be actively and aggressively involved. What does that mean?
GUNLOCK: I really do. I think particularly conservatives tend to be very polite and quiet, and they don't like to sort of cause a stir. But you've got to do that. You've got to go to your school. Meet with your principal. Meet with your teachers. Ask for the curriculum. Review it, and if there is something that you don't like, opt out. Now, some states don't allow people to opt out, and that's very unfortunate. But that is why it's important at the beginning of the year that you meet with the officials at the school and say I don't want this happening. I don't want politics in the classroom. And there are certain subjects that I believe, as a parent, I need to talk to my child, not the teacher.
HEGSETH: That's a great recommendation. And run for school boards so that you can be a part of changing it if you want to. But too many parents, you're right, are disengaged. They don't understand that even our public schools today so many of which have an agenda.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Media Matters for America.
By Kevin Kalhoefer
USA Today has once again invited a climate denier onto its opinion pages to cast doubt on mainstream science, and the paper failed to disclose the author's numerous industry ties.
On Aug. 14, USA Today's editorial board wrote a well-reasoned editorial highlighting the scientific consensus around climate science, titled Case for climate change grows ever stronger. The board noted that the findings of a draft federal climate report provided "ever more troubling evidence" that "humanity is responsible for a dangerously warming planet."
By Kevin Kalhoefer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has appeared on Fox News twice as often as on other cable and broadcast networks combined, and he has frequently granted interviews to right-wing talk radio shows and other climate-denying outlets, Media Matters has found.
By Lisa Hymas
Energy Sec. Rick Perry has ordered his department to produce a study on whether the ongoing shift toward renewable energy is affecting the reliability of the electrical grid. A number of experts, clean-energy advocates and politicians on both sides of the aisle believe the study is intended to be biased in favor of the coal and nuclear industries, which have been struggling in recent years.
By Kevin Kalhoefer
Newsweek missed multiple opportunities to disclose the fossil fuel ties of industry groups when it re-published a Daily Signal article promoting allegations of collusion between Russia and environmental groups that oppose fracking.
On July 11, Newsweek posted an article by Kevin Mooney that first appeared in The Daily Signal about a letter House science committee members Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Randy Weber (R-TX) had written to Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin. According to Mooney, the congressmen alleged that "the Russian government has been colluding with environmental groups to circulate 'disinformation' and 'propaganda' aimed at undermining hydraulic fracturing" in order to prop up Russian oil prices by reducing the U.S.' natural gas production.
The New York Times has done some stellar reporting on climate change, and it's poised to do more thanks to its recent creation of a dedicated climate team. See, for instance, its impressive ongoing series on how climate change is affecting major cities, and another recent multimedia series on the melting of Antarctica.
Kimberly Guilfoyle (Co-Host): I don't think this is a deal that anybody should be crying about. Like we said, it's non-binding, and the United States is already a clean energy, oil and gas leader. So, we can keep doing what we're doing, we can keep reducing our emissions. Why would we in fact put ourselves at an economic disadvantage, giving and subsidizing an economic windfall to other countries, in sort of a climate redistribution of wealth scheme? It makes no sense to me.
By Kevin Kalhoefer & Lisa Hymas
President Donald Trump has decided to exit the Paris climate agreement, according to Axios. The news site also reported that the Scott Pruitt-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been "quietly working" with opponents of the agreement to help them place op-eds in newspapers. Media Matters identified a number of anti-Paris agreement op-eds that have been published in papers around the U.S. in recent weeks, spreading misinformation about the expected economic impacts of the agreement, the commitment of developing countries to cutting emissions and climate science in general.