New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter put on his climatologist coat in his Saturday Business Section story on a controversy ginned up by left-wing climate change activists, who are complaining a new Discovery Channel documentary isn't alarmist enough: "No Place for Heated Opinions – Discovery's 'Frozen Planet' Is Conspicuously Silent on Causes of Climate Change." Stelter insisted that "The vast majority of scientists agree that human activities are influencing changes to the climate...and believe that the situation requires serious attention."
“Frozen Planet,” the seven-hour series that has attracted millions of viewers to the Discovery Channel in recent weeks, shows Earth in extremis. On this planet, the poles are violently cold, yet are also atypically vulnerable to the warming trends that are endangering polar bear populations and causing huge chunks of ice to break off Greenland and Antarctica.
All of it -- the struggling polar bears, the collapsing ice shelves -- is shown in stunning high definition. It is accompanied by the voice of Alec Baldwin, who narrates the series and says categorically, “The ends of the earth are changing.”
What the series never assesses, however, is why.
The vast majority of scientists agree that human activities are influencing changes to the climate -- especially at the poles -- and believe that the situation requires serious attention. That scientific consensus is absent from “Frozen Planet,” for reasons that shed light on the dilemma of commercial television, where the pursuit of ratings can sometimes clash with the quest for environmental and scientific education, particularly in issues, like global warming, that involve vociferous debate.
“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.
The people who are dismissive of human effect on climate change make up about 10 percent of the American population, according to Dr. Leiserowitz’s research, but they sometimes drown out the broader conversation about the subject, making themselves seem more numerous than they are.
One of the seven episodes, “On Thin Ice,” was devoted to climate change. It placed the narrator of the British version of the series, David Attenborough, in front of the camera to show how warming trends are affecting humans and animals in the Arctic. Shown standing at the North Pole, Mr. Attenborough told viewers: “The days of the Arctic Ocean being covered by a continuous sheet of ice seem to be past. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing, of course, depends on your point of view.”
Mr. Attenborough then noted the new opportunities for energy exploitation and commercial shipping. But he did not note that the vast majority of scientists believe that human activities are contributing to the warming trends evident there.
Questionable "climate change" source Bill McKibben earned yet another shout from the Times:
Others said that the series was a lost opportunity for climate change education.
“It’s kind of like doing a powerful documentary about lung cancer and leaving out the part about the cigarettes,” said Bill McKibben, a scholar and climate change activist. “There’s no scientific mystery here: the poles are changing because we’re burning so much carbon.”
McKibben, who wrote a book advocating parents have only one child, is notorious for seeing any odd weather development as a sign of impending doom.