May
01
2013

Kicking Carbon

The climate solution that dares not speak its name

Senators Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders offered a plan to limit global warming.

Just as the mainstream media are evolving away from the era of false balance (Extra!, 11/04) to accept the reality of what scientists call “anthropogenic global warming,” a different type of denial has taken hold: a refusal to acknowledge the fact that the solution to the climate crisis requires humanity to stop depending on fossil fuels for energy. Earth’s dire atmospheric situation was confirmed by November 2012 reports from such tree-hugging pinkos as the World Bank and PriceWaterhouse Coopers. PWC’s most recent edition of its annual Low Carbon Economy Index declares, “To give our-selves a more than 50 percent chance […]

Mar
01
2005

America's Broken Electoral System

Get over it, says mainstream press

Throughout 2004, the "swing state" of Ohio was in the media spotlight. Prior to the election, it was a site of alleged voter fraud and sup­pression; as Extra! reported (12/04), the news media tended to portray the charges as partisan ploys rather than significant threats to the electoral process. Then, on November 2, Ohio became this election's Florida: Once again a tight race hinged on the electoral votes of a state too close to call. At the end of the night, with only about 130,000 votes sep­arating Democrat John Kerry and Republican George W. Bush, Kerry refused to concede. The […]

Jul
01
2000

Pulp Facts

Paper, pollution & the press

When people think of the most environmentally devastating industries, the print media may not come immediately to mind. But unfortunately for everyone who gets their news this way, the cost of the morning paper that lands on our stoop—and even the magazine you are now reading—may include "denuded landscapes, toxic rivers, foul air, bulging landfills and belching incinera­tors," according to Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape, a 1999 World Watch Institute report. About 5.8 billion magazines and 24 billion newspapers are published each year, according to trade figures. And the report, which culled statistics from such mainstream sources as industry […]

Nov
01
1995

TV Nation

A Show for "The Rest of Us"

Michael Moore likes to ask the question: "What if the rest of us had a TV show?" We might want an amiably unkempt, roly-poly everyman in a baseball cap for an anchor. We'd want to fly a kite with suicide-assisting doctor Jack Kevorkian, and run a convicted felon for president under the slogan, "From the Big House to the White House." We'd poll audiences on which country the U.S. should invade next--Belize or France?--and then ask a White House spokesperson to compare invasion costs and strategies. Or we might see what happens when we try to smuggle Canadians over the […]

Jul
01
1993

The New York Times and Environmental Cleanup

Green is the color of money

There's good news and bad news, America. The good news is that toxics in the environment are much less dangerous than once thought; the bad news is the government's exorbitant over-regulation of chemicals. The solution? Wait patiently for more definitive data and then apply strict cost/benefit analysis. That's the growing consensus among a new "third wave" of environmental philosophy--according to the New York Times. The Times' 239-paragraph, five-part series "What Price Cleanup?" appeared the week of March 21, timed for the eve of renewal of major environmental initiatives including the "Superfund" toxic clean-up program. Prominently placed (three of the articles […]

Apr
01
1992

U.S. Environmental Reporting: The Big Fizzle

Another Year of the "environmental decade" is upon us: Acid rain and ozone depletion are household words; nature calendars, dolphin-safe tuna and neighborhood recycling programs are a part of everyday life; and the "environmental president" is running for reelection. Surely, since Time magazine named the Earth "Planet of the Year" in 1989, the environment has been a premier media issue avidly pursued by journalists. Or has it? Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, suggests too much so. In a Jan/Feb 1991 cover story, conservative syndicated columnist Warren Brookes asserted that the "news media have been taken in […]

Jan
01
1991

Cold War Environmentalism

Reporting on Eastern European Pollution

The environment and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe were two of last year's hottest sto­ries. And the two issues came together in the aggressive, graphic reporting on the severe pollution behind the "Iron Curtain." There was no dearth of coverage: In the ten major publications studied by Extra!, there were 37 stories on the subject in the nine months follow­ing the opening of the Berlin Wall. The articles were long, prominently displayed and featured attention- grabbing headlines: "Poland Left Choking on Its Own Wastes" (Boston Globe, 12/18/89); "East Bloc's Environment a Nightmare" (Atlanta Constitution, 3/11/90). The imagery drove […]