Quite a few bloggers have picked this up, but I’d thought I’d say my piece as well.
The episode they didn’t buy?
Oh, the one about climate change and its impact.
Does this matter?.
Discovery has significant reach: it reaches 92 million households in the US. It’s global audience is estimated at 431 million homes in 170 countries.
Discovery’s self stated mission is to help popularise science. Yes, its a commercial enterprise and they have to be profitable. I have no issue with that.
But Discovery claims to have broader goals outside the profit motive if you read and believe their corporate speak:
High-quality, mission-driven programming has been synonymous with Discovery since John Hendricks launched the company’s first network, Discovery Channel, in 1985 with a mission to satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives. Today, that mission remains the driving force behind the programming strategies across Discovery’s networks as they strive to provide viewers with the highest quality nonfiction content that not only entertains and engages, but also enlightens, educates and inspires positive action.
Ignoring climate change is not quite inspiring positive action. More like imposing apathy.
Yes, let’s pretend climate change is not real. We won’t deny it, we’ll ignore it. Oh that’s right. It’s just one form of denial.
Coyne urged action on his blog:
Does anybody really believe that this is anything other than a television station bowing to potential political pressure? And this isn’t trivial, either—it’s the deliberate withholding of scientific information from the public because that information doesn’t serve certain special interests. It’s a travesty.
Attenborough has largely avoided politics to concentrate on nature, but when humans threaten his beloved planet, he speaks out. He’s done that before about population growth, and now is concerned about global warming. To present his first six episodes and omit the last is to leave out what, for him, is the moral of the tale.
I don’t urge reader action very often, but this is a worthy cause. I seriously doubt that Discovery will bow under the trivial pressure that a website like this can exert, but we should nevertheless make our voices heard. If you’re American and object to the omission of the global-warming episode, go to the Discovery Channel’s “Viewer Relations” page and register your opinion.
Let’s hope Discovery was flooded with suggestions. If so, it’s a great example of the power of the interwebz. And kudos for Jerry for urging action. I’m a fan of his blog and his brilliant book that takes a subtle, evidence based sledge-hammer to creationism.
Still this episode is yet another example of how the mainstream media has dropped the ball on climate change. I’m not suggesting every front page should be dedicated to the issue.
What there has been is a systematic failure to properly inform the public coupled with a perverse campaign of deceit (yes, I’m looking at you News Corporation).