While sea level rise may be the most talked-about adverse effect of climate change, there is virtually no aspect of life on Earth that isn’t under threat from global temperature rise — including life on Earth itself. The United Nations recently released a summary of a report written by 400 scientists who found that up to one million plant and animals species are facing extinction, many within the next few decades, due to climate change and other man-made factors. “Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before,” the report reads.
Fox News isn’t worried. The report was brought up on Monday’s episode of Special Report With Bret Baier. The host discredited it by using a classic bit of both-sides-ism. “Many environmentalists are in a panic tonight over a new report suggesting one million animal and plant species are at imminent risk of extinction, and humanity is to blame,” said Baier, a picture of the Earth sitting over his left shoulder. “As in all such cases, some humans say the report and the response are exaggerations.”
"Real news" program on Fox reports on todays extinction report by saying that some people "are saying the report and the response are exaggerations" pic.twitter.com/KBS1djswr9
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) May 6, 2019
Fox News has used the same strategy in covering climate change, which is to essentially say that, “Yes, pretty much the entire global scientific community has agreed humanity is destroying the planet at an increasingly rapid rate, but we were able to dredge up a few quacks to give you permission to go ahead and ignore it.” On Monday, that quack was Marc Morano of “ClimateDepot.com,” whom Fox News pitted against UN Scientific Panel Chairman Robert Watson as if they represented two equally valid sides of the argument.
Sadly, this is far from the first time Fox News has invited Morano on to talk about the climate. Last week, he went on TV to argue carbon dioxide doesn’t contribute to climate change because humans exhale it.
Regular Fox guest Marc Morano absurdly suggests that carbon dioxide doesn't contribute to climate change because "we exhale carbon dioxide." pic.twitter.com/P1Wbkd1FNO
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) April 30, 2019
Though humans do exhale carbon dioxide, it is not new carbon dioxide. The CO2 we exhale is recycled from the same carbon that makes up life on Earth. The global temperature is rising because of carbon dioxide that is being added to the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels. This is basic science that Morano either didn’t care to learn, or is deliberately misrepresenting so Fox News will continue to invite him on the network.
The UN report he dismissed on Monday night is filled with grave warnings about what could happen to life on the planet. The 1,800-page report culls data from 15,000 academic papers from around the world in concluding that life as we know it is going to change and change drastically unless dramatic action is taken. Nearly half of all amphibians are on their way out. So are a third of marine mammals and 10 percent of all insects. Ecosystems are on the verge of collapsing.
The report stresses that the extinction has been facilitated by the actions of humans. Its authors write that 75 percent of land and two-thirds of the planet’s oceans have in some way been altered by humans. The burning of fossil fuels, the use of pesticides, irresponsible fishing practices, trade, introducing invasive species into new environments and other consistent human incursions on the planet’s natural habitats are the reason so many of these species are in danger. So too is humanity.
“The most important thing isn’t necessarily that we’re losing … one million species,” Watson said in a teleconference on Sunday, as reported by the Washington Post. “Although that’s important, don’t misunderstand me. The bigger issue is the way it will affect human well-being, as we’ve said many times: food, water, energy, human health. We care about nature, but we care about human well-being. We need to link it to human well-being. That’s the crucial thing. Otherwise we’re going to look like a bunch of tree-huggers.”
The fact that the threat is so broad and so existential is what makes it so easy for Fox News to attempt to discredit it. The ramifications of a million species going extinct is difficult to grasp, which means people will jump at any excuse to not even try. Some guy from ClimateDepot.com? Sure, why not? Even Baier, who is commonly regarded as one of the more respectable of the network’s hosts, has a history of pushing disinformation about climate change. According to a 2014 study cited by Media Matters, Baier has aired “a number of segments containing inaccurate statements about climate science,” while providing a platform for people like Morano.
Though it may be hard to process the ramifications of the threat, the degradation of the environment through industrialization and man-made capitalistic determination isn’t just a forecast. It’s already happened. As Ian Bremmer pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday, the amount of animal life on Earth has been cut in half in the past 50 years.
If I’m being honest, the biggest story of my lifetime is there’s half as much animal life on earth today as there was the year i was born (1969).
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 7, 2019
Unless the United States can work together with the rest of the world to combat climate change, the next 50 years are going to be far, far worse.