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Reader's view: Global warming stories buried by big oil’s intimidation

Did you notice that the article on the global-warming threat in the March 31 News Tribune was buried on page 6 (“Global warming threat heightened in latest UN report”)? Unfortunately, that’s typical. With rare exceptions, mainstream reporters react with a yawn to this story, which, because of its dire implications for future generations, is arguably the most significant of this century.

Media coverage is greatly influenced by the big corporations with deep pockets like Exxon Mobil and BP. How reassuring that they run countless TV commercials to inform us of their touching concern for the environment. Meanwhile their oil spills are fouling our coastlines and their fracking chemicals are contaminating groundwater. They rake in obscene profits by exploiting fossil fuels, so they prefer business as usual. Leave the disastrous consequences to be dealt with by future generations.

The downplaying of media coverage about global warming is an indisputable triumph of fossil fuel company clout. Commentators are intimidated by conservative accusations of bias. So the opinion of a scientist who has devoted his life to climate studies must be “balanced” by that of an articulate but scientifically clueless spokesperson from a right-wing think tank. The illusion of a genuine scientific debate is maintained.

Can we prove that human activities are contributing to global warming? Of course not. But it would be foolish to disregard the overwhelming scientific consensus when the consequences could be catastrophic. Already rising sea levels are threatening low-lying coastal nations like Bangladesh with impending disaster. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been in at least 800,000 years. What more does Mother Nature have to do to get our attention? And what can one say about a generation so selfish and uncaring as to ignore the moral imperative to pass on a clean and healthful environment to our planet’s future inhabitants?

James J. Amato


The writer cited as sources for this letter the New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post.