Environment

The Bizarre Experience of Watching Cable News in America on Earth Day

Nobody's Talking About How People Are Getting Rich by Destroying the Planet

Photo Credit: bakdc / Shutterstock

Just exactly what the hell are they afraid of?  Are the fossil fuel billionaires, corporations, and lobby really so strong that they can cow entire television networks and newspapers?  Not to mention politicians?

All day Saturday, Earth Day I’d been on-and-off watching CNN and MSNBC while working on a new book.  And I’ve heard repeated dozens of times that Trump and his buddies like Scott Pruitt don’t want to “sacrifice jobs” on the altar of “climate regulations.” 

            Never once has anybody pointed out that there’s another side to the story.

It’s simple, but I haven’t heard it spoken out loud even once, from NPR to CBS: “There are huge profits to be made in poisoning us and our Earth, and the people profiting from that have and are funding politicians, ‘think tanks’ and PR firms, and television networks (via advertising), to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over the decades.   The people denying science are doing so because of the cash.”

Why the hell won’t anybody say that out loud? 

ExxonMobil, we now know, has known about the damage their products were doing to our planet since at least the 1980s.  Instead of changing their business plan, they began to directly and indirectly fund climate-change-denying groups in a big way.  The Kochs aren’t idiots, yet their network of corporate and billionaire funders is one of the main sources of money to politicians like Pruittand, presumably, Trump (in the largest sense).

We are being poisoned for profits, and the scientists who are pointing this out are being shut down.  And in the case of high-profile scientists like Michael Mann, even subject to extraordinary levels of harassment.

The waste materials from fossil fuel use and production are killing our planet and us.  From cancers and asthma, to global warming, to driving wars around the world, these poisons are fouling our politics as well as our air, water, and food supply.

This is not a secret.  Electronic and print media that don’t take large amounts of money from fossil fuel interests have documented this in excruciating detail over the years (“…Koch-supported lobbyists, foundations and political operatives are at the center of climate-science denial — a cause that forestalls threats to Koch Industries’ vast fossil fuel business,” for example, by Frank Rich in The New York Times).

But our TV media, and our politicians, both beholden to the fossil fuel industry and the billionaires it produces, won’t even say it out loud.

When Trump says that he won’t sacrifice jobs for the environment, this lazy media and the politicians it’s willing to put on the air won’t even point out the simple truth that a cleaner environment actually creates jobs.

Trump repealed the streams rule, so that coal companies can dump poisonous waste directly into our rivers and streams. He said he was doing it to “protect jobs.”  But that makes no sense: there’s a lot more work/jobs involved in designing, building, and implementing systems to prevent or clean up fossil fuel poisons than there is in hiring a guy with a dump truck to throw waste into the river.

Doing away with President Obama’s rules that moved in the direction of cleaning up coal-fired power plants won’t “save jobs”: to the contrary, the people who designed smokestack scrubbers (for example), the companies that manufactured them, the people who maintain and clean them, will all lose their jobs.

The only “new jobs” that will come from more poison in our air are in the medical field, as more cancers and lung diseases show up in our ERs.  And if that’s his pitch, why doesn’t anybody in the media ask him to say it out loud?

Our TV and radio “press” are not delivering actual news when they ignore the takeover of our body politic by petro-billionaires or, even worse, continue to give air-time to science deniers.

And they’re not serving the interest of us or our world when they fail to point out that Trump’s and the GOP’s anti-science policies are actually killing people – and are only “helping” the “economy” of a few very, very rich fossil fuel empires.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and author of over 25 books in print

 

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