Is the End of Ice the End of Us?

“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”

Wendell Berry

Dahr Jamail is one of my heroes and I don’t use that word lightly. To be a hero is to be heroic and to be heroic is to do something extraordinarily brave that puts one at risk and benefits others. That’s Jamail. Something in him early in his life and development led him to feel a responsibility beyond himself, his family and friends, even beyond humans.

Dahr Jamail

How else do you explain his decision in 2003 to abandon his passion as an Alaskan mountain-climber and guide and place himself in an active war zone in Iraq to see and report the truth as the Iraqi people were experiencing it? He made his own press pass, and with nothing more than an email address, laptop and a camera, became one of the only unembedded, freelance, independent journalists of that war. Hero.

Jamail spent over a year in Iraq between 2003 and 2005 and quickly became a trusted source for reporting the reality of war that embedded, corporate media reporters could not and would not see or tell. His stories appeared at his website, the Inter Press Service News Agency, The Asia Times, The Nation, Democracy Now! (where I first saw him), TomDispatch, Truthout, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, The GuardianLe Monde, The Huffington Post, The Independent, Al Jazeera, NPR and the BBC. Jamail has also reported from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan and reported extensively on veterans’ resistance against US foreign policy, a story the mainstream media ignored. He spent ten years in the region.

And he wrote books, like Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: The Disintegration of a Nation: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible (an e-book co-authored with William Rivers Pitt).

And he won a slew of awards including the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, five Project Censored awards and the 2018 Izzy Award for his “path-breaking and in-depth reporting in 2017” exposing “environmental hazards and militarism.”

After a decade as a war reporter, Jamail returned to the states and his first love of mountaineering, “only to find that the slopes he had once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption.” He began writing his Climate Disruption Dispatches for Truthout and began traveling around the planet, just as he had done in Iraq, as a courageous unimbedded reporter telling the story that corporate media is unable or unwilling to tell.

And earlier this year, Jamail published another book: The End of Ice, Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption. Jamail takes us to Denali, the highest mountain peak in America and “arguably the largest mountain on the planet when measured from its edges,” a mountain he has “spent many months” of his life on and a mountain on which one can clearly witness the ravages of our rapidly warming planet. Here on one of the coldest places on Earth, even here, the ice is rapidly melting thanks to human-caused climate disruption.

Jamail writes, “It was difficult for me to fathom that even the Alaska Range was melting, and rapidly at that.” He talks about wanting to climb Denali again out of respect and love, like “wanting to be at the bedside of an ailing friend, wanting to share time with them while we are both still here.” Mourning the rapid and irreversible changes assaulting the majestic cathedral of ice, Jamail writes, “I began to feel the deep toll climate disruption was taking on Denali. The glaciers were melting underneath my skis, my crampons, and my ice ax. I could feel the cataclysmic impact of the human race’s industrial-scale consumerism on the Earth. We had defiled the biosphere and we were past the point of no return.”

Jamail takes us to the Gulkana Glacier in the eastern part of the Alaska range where we have one of the longest continuous records “in the Northern Hemisphere of a glacier’s mass balance – the difference between the amount of snow it accumulates in the winter and the amount of snow and ice that melted over summer.” The World Glacier Monitoring Service surveys conducted since 1980 have found continuous “negative mass balances for glaciers around the globe. In other words, the majority of the world’s glaciers are melting, and the trend has accelerated rapidly in recent years.”

Jamail quotes, Louis Sass, a USGS glaciologist and former Denali guide who said, “On average we’re probably losing fifty (Alaskan) glaciers each year now. And that number will increase if we continue business-as-usual emissions.” He quotes Dr. Mike Loso, a physical scientist with the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve who said the rapid warming in Alaska is easily ignored by the outside world. Loso said, “If this was happening in California, every one of these changes would be front-page news. That is why you’ve had no idea that Alaska’s glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year.”

Jamail takes us to Montana’s Glacier National Park where for the first time in 7,000 years, the glaciers are disappearing. Where we once had 150 glaciers in 1850, covering over 60 square miles, we now have 26, covering only 9 square miles, an ice decline of 85 percent. The rest of the ice is expected to all melt in a little over a decade. All alpine glaciers on Earth are expected to be gone within the next eighty years.

Why should we care? Jamail tells us why. “It is clear that mountain ecosystems are highly sensitive to climate disruption, and those very ecosystems provide up to 85 percent of all the water humans need, not to mention other species. Globally, glaciers contain 69 percent of all the freshwater on the planet.”

And it is all going away. And it is too late to stop. Even if we ceased all emissions today, it is too late to stop glacial melting. These mountain glaciers have served as our natural water towers as long as humans have lived. And we are draining them as fast as we can. And at the same time, we are sucking up all the precious water lying beneath us in aquifers at unsustainable amounts and rates. All of this means less water for agriculture, higher food prices, and millions of climate refugees fleeing areas of the planet that no longer possess sources of free, fresh water.

This is the story across the Earth. European glaciers in the Alps are half what they were a hundred years ago. The Himalayan Mountains, home to Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, contains “the third largest deposit of ice and snow in the world, after Antarctica and the Arctic.” It “has lost billions of tons of ice” in the last two decades, “double the amount of melting that took place from 1975 to 2000, revealing that the ice loss is accelerating with rising temperatures. It’s also threatening water supplies for hundreds of millions of people downstream across much of Asia.”

Remarkably, very little warming is needed to push the planet’s glaciers to give up their ice. Temperatures in the Himalayas have risen nearly two degrees Fahrenheit (about one degree Celsius) since 2000, which seems miniscule to some. But, according to Joerg Schaefer, a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory “A one degree C increase is a huge change. In the middle of the last ice age the mean annual temperature was only 3 degrees C (5.4°F) cooler.” And meanwhile that one degree of human-caused warming has been enough to remove as much as twenty-five percent of the region’s ice since 1980.

According to Jamail, glaciers are “melting faster than anywhere else on Earth” in West Antarctica. He writes, “the rate of ice loss in Antarctica increased a staggering 50 percent in just the first decade of the 2000s.”

And Greenland’s ice sheet, which “has existed for 2.4 million years and is 2.1 miles thick at its deepest point…is melting six times faster than it was in the 1980s. If it melted entirely, sea levels would rise by 24.3 feet.” Greenland has lost 5.6 trillion tons of ice since 1980.

And with melting ice, we get rising seas, which Jamail reports is bad news for anyone who lives near the ocean. Reporting from Southern Florida, Jamail writes that four national parks, the Everglades, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas and Big Cypress National Preserve, a total of 2.46 million acres “will be completely submerged in seawater in my lifetime (Jamail is 51).”

Jamail writes, “Most U.S. government projections estimate between 4.1 and 6.6 feet of sea level rise by 2100.” Dr. Harold Wanless, professor and chair of the Department of Geologic Science at the University of Miami predicts we will easily see two feet of sea level rise within the next 30 years which means “Miami-Dade County alone will lose 38 percent of its land, and much of the area of the Turkey Point Nuclear plant on the coast will be submerged.” And Wanless said, “And for every foot of sea level rise, the shore will shift further landward five hundred to two thousand feet.”

Jamail takes us to the Rock Islands of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean, Guam’s Tumon Bay and Queensland, Australia to visit some of the world’s remaining coral reefs and to talk to scientists about the future of this critical ocean species. What he learns is startling.

For example, we know that the oceans absorb over 90 percent of the carbon dioxide we emit, which means they have been saving us from ourselves. To fully grasp how much heat we are adding to the oceans, Jamail writes, “If you took all of the heat humans generated between the years 1955 and 2010 and placed it in the atmosphere instead of the oceans, global temperatures would have risen by a staggering 97°F.” We would all be dead of course.

He further explains that between 1963 and 2013, the rate of human-generated warming in our oceans was “fifteen times faster than what had occurred during the past ten thousand years.” He writes, “Oceanic warming had escalated to a rate in excess of twelve Hiroshima bombs detonating per second.”

And all of this heat means the death of coral. And what happens to coral will affect the entire ocean ecosystem. Dr. Dean Miller, a marine scientist and director of science and media for Great Barrier Reef Legacy believes the coral in the world’s oceans will be bleached and dead well before 2050.

Why should we care? Jamail expalins, “Coral reef ecosystems cover less than 2 percent of Earth’s ocean floor yet are home to one-quarter of all marine species.” Also, coral reefs “are responsible for producing fish that contribute significantly to what is 17 percent of all globally consumed animal protein. One estimate has valued the biodiversity of coral reefs at $9.9 trillion.”

Miller explains that once the coral is gone, “we lose habitat for all of the marine life that depends on it.” He continues, “We might see ecosystem collapse as we know it. We’ll lose the reef fish from the bleaching, then all of the fish that depend on them, all the way up the food chain to the biggest fish. Everything is affected.”

Jamail takes us to the forests of North America, the rainforests in the Amazon Basin, the Pribilofs, a group of islands that lie in the Bering Sea and to “the top of the world,” near the Arctic Circle, all to bring us close-up news about our future and the fate of the Earth and all its inhabitants. There is no doubt that one species – human – has brought on “the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily,” a rate one thousand times greater than before we arrived. Attention must be paid.

The climate crisis calls out to all of us to be honest with ourselves and one another about what we have done, what we are doing and what we will most likely continue to do. It calls for humility, integrity, and conscious awareness. We have a decision to make, all of us, to be as heroic as we can be or to continue to be fearful and oblivious, avoiding the terrible truth that we are actively and earnestly destroying the life-giving capacity of the Earth that gave us life.

And as Jamail laments, it is time for grief; individual and collective, sincere and heart-felt. Jamail suggests we ask ourselves, “How shall I use this precious time?” And perhaps heed Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to be present with what is happening to our loved one, the natural Earth: “When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and just by doing that, you already offer some relief.”

My one-hour interview with Dahr Jamail will be broadcast on my Wake-Up Call radio program on KKRN at 88.5 FM on Tuesday, July 16 at 4:00 pm and can be accessed anytime in the archives at

Douglas Craig
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 30 years. He believes in magic and is a Dawes fan.
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60 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Good article Dr. Craig but I already knew the things you are talking about. How, from corporate media. My homepage is MSN and everyday they post articles from different sources about what is happening in the world. Glaciers melting, ice shelves breaking away, are all reported daily. I suggest you widen your media intake. A lot of what you are talking about is reported by Corporate Media.

    • Avatar Randy says:

      AGW(man made climate change) is the most unreported crisis in human history. Much of what we know now of mans role in creating this situation was known in 1970 but here we are. Are you tired of hearing about it? If everyone understands the out of control crisis we have created for our planet then why are we still creating it? Why was Trump elected when he claims AGW is nothing but a hoax? Doug LaMalfa, our congressional representative, also denies the scientific realities of AGW. Possibly we all should spend less time listening to corporate news and letting news pundits do our thinking for us and more time reading books like The End of Ice so we can educate our ignorant countrymen.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Randy, I have been reading about climate change for years from corporate media. Omaha World, Lincoln Journal, Denver Post, Wyoming Tribune, Scottsbluff Star, Casper Star, York News(where the XL pipeline was proposed). Like Doug I suggest you expand your reading intake.

        • Avatar Randy says:

          I am pleased you have given attention to AGW, few do. Considering that our president, our congressional representative, our newly elected senator here in District 1 and a good part of our citizenry are all promoting the ignorant lie that AGW i a hoax, I am still puzzled why you would suggest Doug’s efforts to bring this critical topic to public attention is a waste of time. Can you not explain?

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Randy, when have I ever said, including his blog in the RS, have I ever said Dr. Craig’s efforts is a waste of time? I simply disagreed with his statement that major media doesn’t report on climate change.

        • Avatar Randy says:

          I never cite corporate media as a reliable source of climate science information. I always cross check their STORIES by going to the sources of their STORIES. You posted 7 of your most highly respected sources of climate science information so I will do the same. NASA, NOAA, WHOI, IPCC, AAAS, World Meteorological Organization and American Meteorological Society.

        • Avatar Randy says:

          Thanks for clarifying Bruce and I apologize for getting you wrong on how AGW is reported on through corporate media. Is there some more detailed AGW information you would suggest Dr. Craig should cover? Any books or studies you might recommend?

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Randy, I did omit, forgot, to include the Seattle Times. They have reported on many environmental developments that were very relevant to Wyoming, coal and natural gas, and Nebraska, XL Pipeline. Right now they are reporting on the Pebble Beach Mine in Alaska. One thing I have found that has been happening for years that Canadian companies are being given carter blanch to rape America’s landscape with little compensation to the communities affected. For proof I offer multiple articles in all the Corporate Media I posted. I’m sure you can confirm it from your seven scientific sources.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Randy, When you use phrases like ‘out of control crisis’. all people do is just consider it another boy cried wolf scenario. What we knew in the 70’s was that the ‘experts’ were concerned about another ice age not global warming. Once again the facts are betraying your crisis. Your experts 20 years ago predicted an ice free Arctic by now. As always, perfectly normal temperature swings are being portrayed as unprecedented and catastrophic. Beyond that, there has been no arctic ice lost since around 2012. 7 years with stable ice is hardly catastrophic.

  2. Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

    To this line, “And at the same time, we are sucking up all the precious water lying beneath us in aquifers at unsustainable amounts and rates,” I can only add from today’s R-S, “Cadiz Inc., an agriculture company that owns lots of land in the area, wants to pump out 50,000 acre feet of that water each year before it is lost and send it to Southern California.”

  3. Avatar Candace C says:

    Dr. Craig,
    This is something that I instinctually do not want to read because it’s depressing and scary as hell but read I do. I’ll venture I’m not alone in not wanting to look at AGW in the face. I believe this subject is so frightening that many look away or choose to deny not because of a lack of factual science but instead because it’s simply too terrifying to try and realistically imagine. I don’t know how or if you can ever change how individuals react to paralyzing fear. Some are spurred to action (too late?) and some remain frozen in place, afraid to look. Both reactions are relatable, both reactions are human. If I were a religious person I believe I might say “God help us all”.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      ‘ depressing and scary as hell’…’ subject is so frightening ‘…’ too terrifying’…’ paralyzing fear’…’God help us all’. Let’s put this all in perspective. The calculated global warming increase is reported to be about 1.5 degrees for the past 100 years. All in all, compared to the history of the world we are actually living in rather stable climate right now. There is nothing catastrophic happening. especially now that data shows we have been in a temperature increase plateau for over 20 years now.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        Is this your uneducated opnion or do you have some actual science based information to back up your position?

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          I look at the facts, Randy. When you say homes are being flooded in the Maldives. I look at the facts. And the facts are that there is no flooding because of AGW. I look at real data and facts. You look at stories with scary headlines.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          I can’t prove a negative, Randy…It was you that made the claim about flooded homes in the Maldives, and years later you still can’t show me any evidence of that. It was your claim, your burden of proof. Providing links about what could happen in the future is not the same as it happening now. The point of this long arduous exercise is to have you realize that you can’t believe everything you read. That instead of linking ridiculous press briefings, you should actually delve in the facts and data. You wring your hands about a doubling of sea level rise in 30 years. That doubling is from a width of one dime to the width of 2 dimes. Catastrophic? meh…

          • Avatar Randy says:

            You can easily find vast information on how cliamte change is effecting the Maldives or you can just play your usual, “can’t prove it to me so it isn’t so” game. For anyone interested here are some links.




          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Not to belabor this point, Randy…but as I said. It was YOUR claim that homes were already being flooded in the Maldive. You STILL haven’t provided any proof. None of your links support your claim, they are all talking about what ‘may’happen. This is what your links say, “…and faces the very real possibility…”. “…Sea level rise is likely to worsen…”, This is the problem Randy…in order for you to push your catastrophic claims, you and others have to exaggerate the record and predictions. Look at your last link. It states, “…The tide record suggests that sea levels for the Maldives are increasing at 3.5 mm/year. “. Yep, that has been the average sea level rise per year for the last 160 years. So…I guess you still have no proof of flooding in the Maldives. Nice try.

          • Avatar Randy says:

            Your argument is with the scientists who conduct the research and produce the studies. I find it baffling that after several years of me consistently posting direct links to the science based sources I base my position on you have yet to verify a single one of your claims links to your sources. You have not progressed a single bit from your childish word games and blatant untruths. Are you, Trump and LaMalfa related?

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Randy, just a quick word: It’s fine to discuss conflicting ideas but not okay to bring personalities and ad hominem attacks into the picture.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Thank you Barbara. This what happened to Dr. Craig’s blog on RS.

  4. Avatar Randy says:

    Here is a good place to begin to understand why sceintists have concluded that 1.5 degrees of warming is a big deal and why 2 degrees and above is catastrophic.

  5. Avatar Randy says:

    World Weather Attribution
    “Every heatwave occurring in Europe today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change.”

  6. Avatar Randy says:

    “Winter temperatures are soaring in the Arctic for the fourth winter in a row. The heat, accompanied by moist air, is entering the Arctic not only through the sector of the North Atlantic Ocean that lies between Greenland and Europe, as it has done in previous years, but is also coming from the North Pacific through the Bering Strait.

    “We have seen winter warming events before, but they’re becoming more frequent and more intense,” said Alek Petty, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.”

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Dig deeper, Randy. Researchers have discovered that the current melting is because a change in ocean currents, warming the ocean in the Arctic. A natural cycle. Same with the Antarctica…the melting of the western shelf is because of a string of underwater volcanoes. Try as you might…mother nature is not going to let you stop the warming and cooling of our planet.Its going to happen anyway. In a year or so, the ocean currents will change and the ice will continue to grow as it was after 2009

      • Avatar Randy says:

        Plrase provide sources along with links as I consistently do. Gossip level stories about other stories do not count in science or in honest discussions about factual reality..

  7. Avatar Randy says:

    Science News, Global warming increases the risk of an extinction domino effect.

    “The complex network of interdependencies between plants and animals multiplies the species at risk of extinction due to environmental change, according to a new study.

    In the case of global warming, predictions that fail to take into account this cascading effect might underestimate extinctions by up to 10 times.

    As an obvious, direct consequence of climate change, plants and animals living in a given area are driven to extinction when the local environmental conditions become incompatible with their tolerance limits, just like fish in an aquarium with a broken thermostat.”

  8. Avatar Candace C says:

    Doug, your perspective need not match mine. Your “Let’s put this all in perspective” appears to loosely translate to “I’m right, you’re ridiculous”. Marginalizing my concerns does nothing to validate your seeming lack of concern. Thing is I’d be indescribably relieved if I agreed with you on this but simply saying “it ain’t so” doesn’t change the facts. And no, I’m not going to provide links to reputable sources others have already provided you ad nauseam.

  9. Avatar Randy says:

    Union for Conservation of Nature

    “Ocean warming
    The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures.
    Increasing ocean temperatures affect marine species and ecosystems. Rising temperatures cause coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for marine fishes and mammals.
    Rising ocean temperatures also affect the benefits humans derive from the ocean – threatening food security, increasing the prevalence of diseases and causing more extreme weather events and the loss of coastal protection.
    Achieving the mitigation targets set by the Paris Agreement on climate change and limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels is crucial to prevent the massive, irreversible impacts of ocean warming on marine ecosystems and their services.
    Establishing marine protected areas and putting in place adaptive measures, such as precautionary catch limits to prevent overfishing, can protect ocean ecosystems and shield humans from the effects of ocean warming.”

  10. Avatar Randy says:

    Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

    “Ocean warming
    The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures.
    Increasing ocean temperatures affect marine species and ecosystems. Rising temperatures cause coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for marine fishes and mammals.
    Rising ocean temperatures also affect the benefits humans derive from the ocean – threatening food security, increasing the prevalence of diseases and causing more extreme weather events and the loss of coastal protection.
    Achieving the mitigation targets set by the Paris Agreement on climate change and limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels is crucial to prevent the massive, irreversible impacts of ocean warming on marine ecosystems and their services.
    Establishing marine protected areas and putting in place adaptive measures, such as precautionary catch limits to prevent overfishing, can protect ocean ecosystems and shield humans from the effects of ocean warming.”

  11. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    It’s a fact that mainstream corporate media have under-reported AGW. A great deal of their money comes from fossil fuel advertisers, including companies whose own studies support the AGW consensus. The fact that there’s been more MSM coverage of the issue in recent years correlates with the increasing sense of urgency expressed by climate scientists. There’s been a number of gloomy books and frightening reports (from both the UN and the US) this year, so much so that the hockey stick scientist, Michael Mann, recently felt the need to reassure the public that it’s not too late to do something about AGW. Is it?

  12. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Whoops. Forgot the Michael Mann link:

    • Avatar Randy says:

      I am with Mann. When we are ill our outcome can be greatly influenced by whether we are planning to live or to die.

  13. Douglas Craig Douglas Craig says:

    Thank you to Bruce, Randy, Doug, Tom and Candace for your comments. I will respectfully disagree with you Bruce. I suggest readers who are interested in understanding how journalists have failed to educate the public regarding the climate crisis as it has unfolded over the last 4o years begin with The Columbia Journalism Review’s recent piece titled: The media are complacent while the world burns.
    Here is a quote from that article: “Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the IPCC released a landmark report warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the US covered that report.”

    The lengthy article goes on to state, “Instead of sleepwalking us toward disaster, the US news media need to remember their Paul Revere responsibilities–to awaken, inform and rouse the people to action.”

    Other quotes: “Judging by the climate coverage to date, most of the US news media still don’t grasp the seriousness of this issue. There is a runaway train racing toward us, and its name is climate change. That is not alarmism; It is scientific fact.”

    “The US mainstream news media, unlike major news outlets in Europe and independent media in the US, have played a big part in getting it wrong for many years.”

    “You can’t solve a problem by ignoring it. Moderators did not ask presidential candidates a single question about climate change during the three prime-time general-election debates in 2016–or in 2012 or 2008 or ever.”

    The news media consistently fails to connect the climate crisis dots on our wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, floods and other extreme weather events and the fact scientists have warning us for decades that these were the inevitable result of our use of fossil fuels.

    “In an 18-month period, TV and print outlets gave 40 times more coverage to the Kardashians than to the acidification of our oceans caused by rising temperatures.”

    “This journalistic failure has given rise to a calamitous public ignorance, which has in turn enabled politicians and corporations to avoid action.”

    The article goes on to cite a Pew poll that found as recently as 2016, only half of us understood that human activity was responsible for the climate crisis and only one quarter of us knew that the vast majority of published studies and nearly all climate scientists agree humans are rapidly heating up the Earth. This is a complete failure of journalism and the corporate media in America.

    “It is our great misfortune to live at a time when the global peril of climate change coincides with a structural undermining of the media’s economic ability to cover a story of this magnitude.”

    I have been obsessing about this issue on a daily basis since March of 2006, subscribing to numerous science magazines (New Scientist out of Britain is the best but a cheaper alternative is Science News), and science journals like Science, Nature and Nature Climate Change. Bruce is flat wrong if he things the US corporate media have ever been serious about covering this issue. The only newspaper that can be relied on to provide consistent and accurate news on climate is the independent, British newspaper, The Guardian ( I also recommend Democracy Now! ( and two local community radio stations, (88.5 FM) and (90.9 FM) if you want up-to-date climate news. It is true that as climate disasters have unfolded in recent years and the last five years have been the hottest ever, the US media seems slightly more courageous and forthright on climate but it is really quite pitiful and pathetic compared to how extreme this crisis has become. Chris Mooney is great at the Washington Post ( But Mooney is the exception, not the rule. The only broadcaster on MSNBC who ever talks about climate is Chris Hayes but he stated, “Every single time we’ve covered [climate change] it’s been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives [for covering the climate crisis] are not great.” This is what we get for prioritizing consumerism and profits over the importance of a well-informed citizenry and robust democracy.

    “The sad fact is that the US media as a whole and television in particular have downplayed and distorted the climate story from the beginning, with devastating consequences. A big part of the reason our civilization today faces the prospect of extinction is that we have waited so long to take action, not lease because the media left the public and policy-makers misinformed about the threat and its solutions.”

    “When the media weren’t ignoring the story, they were being suckered into misrepresenting it as a matter of political opinion than of scientific fact.”

    We knew enough to act on this issue since the late 1980s but the media has been successfully “played” by the oil lobby, conservatives, free marketeers and the Republican Party. FOX News continues to broadcast anti-science lies and climate denialism on a daily basis. To this day fossil-fuel industry propaganda is broadcast as legitimate news from popular conservative news outlets. There is a good reason our local city council and board of supervisors and our congressman cannot admit the climate crisis is real. Science does not stand a chance if our journalists are afraid to speak truth to power.

    “But the fossil-fuel industry’s lies succeeded only because US news organizations swallowed the industry’s propaganda and regurgitated it as supposedly objective news. The result was to mislead the American people and their elected representatives about the perils of climate change and to blunt any sense of urgency about reacting.” Bill McKibben, who wrote the first book for the general public on the climate crisis in 1989, The End of Nature, now calls this “the most consequential cover-up in human history.”

    The propaganda has worked. The fossil-fuel lobby largely controls the Republican party and their voters and the chance of the US actually responding to this crisis in time is extremely remote. Every ecosystem on the planet is collapsing. There is very little we can do about that now.

    As long ago as 1995, the Germans were shocked that we were still debating this issue. They are decades ahead of us now as are other countries, not that it matters. The average American produces more greenhouse gas each day than virtually every other human on the planet. Until we wake up and radically change our ways, we are ensuring future generations will suffer a death sentence.

    I do urge readers to read this piece from the Columbia Journalism Review.

    And to Candace, I encourage you to read Dahr Jamail’s The End of Ice and Nathaniel Rich’s Losing Earth. It is too late to stop the climate crisis but it isn’t too late to live a life that honors ourselves and one another and the precious planet.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Dr. Craig, In Nebraska the first XL Pipeline was allowed, a couple of decades ago, because Nebraskans believed like you said the media propaganda about gaining our independence from foreign oil. Since then, reported in Corporate media like the York News-times the spills that weren’t reported, the construction cleanup that was never done the attitude of Nebraskans, except in Omaha where Warren Buffet owns stock in Canadian Tar Sands, has changed. I once worked in Bradshaw, ten miles west of York where a sign stood on an empty field, Big Red Gasanol Coming, now the sign reads Stop The XL Pipeline. This attitude change and protests happened because of local media coverage, not because scientists in Boulder spoke up.
      I respect your sources but don’t tell me my media sources didn’t have a say in this.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Thank you for the book recommendations Dr. Craig, I appreciated it.

  14. Douglas Craig Douglas Craig says:

    And thanks to RV too! I took so long to write my response, he slipped his in before I posted mine.

  15. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    In Arizona Corporate Media has been reporting, with pictures and video, of how ground water pumping is causing the desert to split and is causing sinkholes that have swallowed half of one man’s business.
    In Nebraska and the Midwest Corporate media has been reporting on the damage, with pictures and video, of how the Ogallala Aquifer is being dried up by ground water pumping. Where once the Aquifer had standing water has dropped 100 feet and is predicted to dry up completely in the future in Kansas south. The only place that the Aquifer is filling is the Nebraska Sandhills were the ground is very porous, unfortunately that porousness would make a spill from the XL worse. This has been continuously been reported by the York News-times. Though Huffington Post did do an article on York County about it.
    One cannot learn about environmental concerns from one link or story, it is an ongoing search. Randy does this well.

    • Avatar Randy says:

      Bruce, the fact that I ALWAYS go to the source of the media story and use the source information, assuming the story is based on scientific fact, as my authoritative substance does not mean that I do not read corporate media stories. If we are going to rely exclusively on media sources for our information then Fox Entertainment is equally valid as is MSN.

    • Avatar Randy says:

      Bruce, the fact that I ALWAYS go to the source of the media story and use the source information, assuming the story is based on scientific fact, as my authoritative substance does not mean that I do not read corporate media stories. If we are going to rely exclusively on media sources for our information then Fox Entertainment is equally valid as is MSN. The fact that AGW has finally become a main steam news story in the past year or two is a first step toward mobilizing the citizenry toward acceptance and action.

  16. Avatar Tim says:

    “Scientists investigated half a century ago the phenomena of “experts” not learning about their past failings. You can mispredict everything for all your life yet think that you will get it right next time.”
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Tim, that sounds like someone playing Mega Lottery or the Oakland Raiders, next year will be different.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Tim, a good example is the so called Ozone hole crisis. Scientists threw out numerous reasons why there is a hole. The explanation that stuck was cfc’s in refrigerants. Which led to a ban on cfc. Today, scientists now agree that there have been and always be an ozone hole. That it is a naturally occurring phenomenon. The head of the Ozone research organization testified to Congress and admitted more people died in the world because if improper refrigeratoration because of the ban on cfc’s, than were injured by the ozone hole.. remember the scary predictions about increases in skin cancer? How we would all have to wear hats outside. The same scare tactics are being used now with climate change.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        “Today, scientists now agree that there have been and always be an ozone hole. That it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.”?

        “more people died in the world because if improper refrigeratoration because of the ban on cfc’s, than were injured by the ozone hole”?

        Can you not provide links to your information? You have made some extrodinary claims here without providing a shred of evidence.

        If you have more credible sources for information on ozone and hole in the ozone than NASA then simply provbide your link so we can verify your sources.

  17. Douglas Craig Douglas Craig says:

    Dear Bruce,

    I mean you no disrespect and I am certainly not suggesting that you have not learned a great deal from your sources. I apologize if you took offense. I should be more clear in defining my terms. When I refer to the Corporate Media, I am referring to the fact that in the early 1980s there were 50 different companies that controlled most of what we read, saw and heard in our newspapers, or on our radios or TVs. For the last couple decades there have been only five or six corporations that control it all. In the decade from 2003 to 2013 I attended four out of the six National Conferences on Media Reform held in St Louis, Memphis, Boston and Denver because in part I was interested in learning how I could play a critical role in helping my local community have access to independent journalism that isn’t vetted or controlled by corporate boardrooms. A few of us were able to work together to get two local community radio stations started during that time. Media reform and climate activism go hand in hand. I get information from as many sources as possible which is easy to do these days thanks to an Internet that is still mostly free of corporate control. So to be clear when I refer to the Corporate Media I am referring to those five or six companies that control the information that most people look for when they want news — broadcast television, the networks and cable news. Numerous studies have been conducted that clearly show they have failed to cover the climate crisis adequately. I do understand that as the climate crisis deepens the issue is now impossible to ignore, even from these corporate-controlled media outlets. FOX is still the worst. They are unable to inform their viewers on the reality of the climate crisis. It is exceedingly rare that a Corporate Media source will clearly state the scientific consensus that we need to immediately and drastically transition away from fossil fuel sources if we have any chance of having a livable planet in the future. They need to do this and I hope they will.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Dr. Craig and Randy, I actually lived in York when the push for the XL Pipeline started. I actually lived in Cheyenne when they opened the Sampson oil field on Cheyenne’s north city limits and the fracking trucks were speeding down two lane roads where bikers, school children and pronghorn lives were at stack. While you check your credible sources I saw first hand, with pictures I have sent to Dr. Craig and Anews, what was happening. Choking on the dust kicked up by fracking trucks, seeing the bodies of dead pronghorn often when it used to be a rarity. While you google your sources I could look out the window of my car and see my sources, of which I did take pictures.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        Your personal experience does not change rhe fact that our local representatives, Doug LaMalfa and Brian Dahle have teamed up with Donald Trump in promoting the blatant lie that AGW is a hoax. How do you suggest we deal with this situation? The GOP agenda, built of this horrendous lie, has placed industry heads in controlling positions over our environment and public lands. Do we sit silent and allow that lie to steer us into the greatest pillage our planet has ever suffered? I am truly interested in your vision to address this crisis.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          Randy, how did all this blame shift to me. I pointed out that Corporate Media does discuss climate change. My media sources say the same thing your scientific sources say.
          Just because you and Dr. Craig live in the 1st District where nothing will get done does not give you the right to complain about how my personal experiences don’t change where I live.

          • Avatar Randy says:

            I kind of feel like Doug Craig, and myself, are the ones having to defend ourselves to you over bringing this issue into the public conversation. I really don’t see where I have ‘blamed’ you for anything. It seems we are all in agreement that AGW is a growing global crisis but I am unsure what we are actually wrestling with here.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Randy, I am unsure what issue we are wrestling with. To me it appears you disagree with my source of information even though it agrees with yours. Have you ever read Wyofile? They give much better environmental news about Wyoming than your scientific sources because their staff live where they report, not a thousand miles away posting on a computer. NASA, NOAA and the others have articles posted on MSN all the time so I don’t know what you are having issues with me over.

          • Avatar Randy says:

            I am glad we are not ‘wrestling’ about the basic facts of the climate crisis and I don’t disagree with your sources as long as their information matches up with material science and factual reality. The most important factor for me in these discussions is that we maintain genuine committment to true facts and strive for respectful, honest communications.

        • Avatar Gary Tull says:

          Well spoken, Randy. I’m not a frequent commenter here but I’ll say that I find a few (who frequently practice their right to argue yet fail to support settled scientific findings) frustrating and annoying.

          Thank you Dr.Craig for your efforts in getting this crucial information out, I tip my hat to you.

          • Avatar Randy says:

            Thanks Gary. Obviously this is an issue I find to be of utmost importance and one that should involve all citizens who are armed with a vote.

  18. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Well, off topic, but here’s something interesting about media influence. Below is a link about a Brooke Shields ad that was removed from TV and magazine publication. I was about 15 when I saw an ad on TV with Brooke Shield advocating not smoking. Shields was a well-known model at the time. I only saw one ad. I was impressed. I was encouraged. I was woken up. Wish the ads weren’t stopped. But they were. Puff.

  19. What an honor you will have to interview this incredible man on your radio show Tuesday. I will absolutely tune it. Thank you, Doug, for continuing to beat the drum of this crucial topic.

  20. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Great article Doug. I so wish that climate change was just a “Chinese hoax”, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. There are a lot of resources in our world that could change the course of this destruction if attention were taken away from the machinery and mentality of war and agression for power and wealth. I don’t think this will happen. We can plan for our personal survival as our world changes. I appreciate your research Doug.

  21. As an aside, Doug Craig, you epitomize the art of civilized discourse, even in the face of profound disagreement. Thank you.