News & Politics

Why Is Sarah Palin Getting a Nature Show? Her Environmental Record Is Atrocious

Based on Palin's environmental record, she appears to hate nature. The Discovery Channel should really find a more appropriate host for their new nature show.

Editor's Note:  Urge the Discovery Channel to drop Sarah Palin's planned nature series.Sign AlterNet's petition

This article was reprinted from The Faster Times. Faster. Smarter. Funnier: Go to for the latest in News, Politics, Science, Arts, Health, Nonsense, and everything else.

Sarah Palin, a former governor who spent her two years in office doing everything she could to repeal laws that protect wildlife and nature, would seem like a completely bizarre choice for a nature series -particularly one produced by the Discovery Channel, which also owns and the Planet Green channel. And yet that is precisely what has happened. The series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” has been picked up by the Discovery Channel for a reported $1 million-plus per episode.

While she’ll be guiding viewers through the natural beauty of her home state of Alaska, when Palin was charged with protecting that beauty she was, by all accounts, a failure. During the summer of 2008 she sued the federal government over its listing of polar bears as “endangered,” claiming that a “comprehensive scientific review” had revealed that they were not in danger, and that listing them as such would be a threat to energy development. When pressed to provide this review, Palin refused. And when the scientific document was later unearthed by the public, it contained only evidence that the state’s polar bears were in fact endangered.

Earlier in 2008, she approved $2 million in funding for a conference that would discuss the economic impact of the Endangered Species Act, designed to inform the public that listing animals as endangered was unwarranted and costly. That money was subsequently used to pay for the polar bear lawsuit.

In 2007, her administration offered a $150 bounty for any wolf killed in the state, until the courts deemed the bounty illegal. Scientists in the state have frequently come out against the “predator control” program that encourages wolf hunting in the state, calling it unnecessary and accusing Palin of wanting simply to keep her sport-hunting supporters happy.

Palin often touted the fact that she created a climate change committee in Alaska during her run as the state’s governor, but she also continually undermined that committee’s work by publicly stating that global warming was not caused by man. “If it’s all just a natural, cyclical thing, maybe we should just all go home and read a book,” Kathie Wasserman, an adviser to Palin’s climate change committee, said at the time.

Sarah Palin also supported nearly every proposed mine in the state during her tenure, and supported oil and natural gas drilling in every part of the state, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Her Discovery Channel series, produced by Mark Burnett, the same reality TV master who brought us Survivor and The Apprentice, will reportedly focus on Alaska’s characters and traditions, as presented by the former vice-presidential candidate. It’s an idea that brings to mind another of Burnett’s gems: Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?


Urge the Discovery Channel to drop Sarah Palin's planned nature series.Sign AlterNet's petition

Amy Westervelt is the managing editor of Earth Island Journal and writes about clean tech and environmental policy for a variety of print and web publications including Earth2Tech, Consumers Digest, and Sustainable Industries. She recently co-authored a report on sustainable cities for the Living Cities Foundation.
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