Petition Asks Discovery Channel to Stand Up for Climate Science

from Wildlife Promise

credit: Mark Wexler

Conservationists have been raving about the amazing images of wildlife surviving in frigid habitats depicted in the Discovery Channel’s Frozen Planet series, but they’ve also noticed something missing – an honest discussion of climate change.

While the narration makes reference to the melting ice that’s threatening everything from the Arctic’s polar bears to the Antarctic’s penguins, it shies away from detailing the cause of the warming trend – man-made carbon pollution.

The series producer has made clear that Frozen Planet’s omission of climate science wasn’t accidental:

Including the scientific theories “would have undermined the strength of an objective documentary, and would then have become utilized by people with political agendas,” Vanessa Berlowitz, the series producer, said in an interview.

She added, “I feel that we’re trying to educate mass audiences and get children involved, and we didn’t want people saying ‘Don’t watch this show because it has a slant on climate change.’ ” [...]

“Many organizations, and it sounds like Discovery is one of them, appear to be more afraid of being criticized by climate change ‘dismissives’ than they are willing to provide information about climate change to the large majority of Americans who want to know more about it,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Berlowitz gets politicization backwards. Giving viewers the straight climate facts isn’t political – it’s educating your audience about the world around them. It’s the hiding scientific reality in fear of blowback from climate deniers that politicizes the program.

Protest at Discovery Channel headquarters, May 2012

A new petition from Forecast the Facts asks Discovery not to mute climate science:

We are deeply disappointed by your decision not to explain the science, and human causes, of global warming in the “On Thin Ice” episode of the Frozen Planet series. As the world’s leader in environmental programming, your decision sends a dangerous message to media companies around the world — that it is better to censor yourself than risk criticism by global warming deniers. We call on you to immediately acknowledge this error and to conduct a review of all Discovery programming decisions to ensure no such self-censorship happens again.

Discovery took an important step in airing “On Thin Ice,” reversing its original decision not to show the series’ final installment that dealt more directly with global warming-related issues. But this petition sends a clear message that it’s not good enough to skirt the issue of climate change – viewers expect Discovery to connect the dots.

 Take Action

An incredible 815,000 Americans have already shown their support for protecting polar bears and other wildlife through the Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Please take a moment to add your voice to the thousands of National Wildlife Federation members and supporters who are saying loud and clear that we know why climate change is happening – and we’re stepping up to help stop it.