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Russia Trumps Ecocide at the Petroleum Broadcasting System

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Photo by Kristoffer Trolle | CC BY 2.0

There’s something really wrong with “Public” Broadcasting System “NewsHour” host and Council on Foreign Relations member Judy Woodruff.

Nearly every weekday night she participates in the corporate state media’s elevation of the dubious, politically motivated charge that the ridiculous Insane Clown President Donald Trump is a Russian agent who stole the 2016 presidential election in collusion with the Kremlin.

Like her counterparts in other dominant media outlets, she and her producers privilege this endlessly broadcast story above other topics that might hold special interest to “public” media consumers.

There’s no shortage of other and terrible things to cover, God knows.  The list of horrors that deserve lead-story status from one night to the next is daunting.  I could fill pages listing them, including things like these:

* Global capitalism has so savagely concentrated wealth upwards that five absurdly opulent people now have as much net worth between them as the bottom half of humanity,

* The top tenth of the U.S. upper One Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom U.S. 90 percent, along with a giant, outsized share of the nation’s plutocratically (s)elected officials in a nation that has become an open corporate-financial oligarchy.

*  15 million children (21% of all U.S. children, including 4 in 10 Black and Native American children) live at less than the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level (more than 1 in 10 U.S. children ages 0-9 is living at less than half that level).

*  Half the U.S. population is poor or near-poor and lacks any assets.

*  Median Black U.S. net worth is less than seven cents on the median U.S. white wealth dollar.

*  The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in world history, achieved in ways so deeply racist that 1 in 3 adult U.S. adult Black males is saddled with the crippling lifelong mark of a felony record.

*  The U.S. dedicates more than half of its discretionary federal spending to a giant military empire that transfers wealth upwards while killing millions the world over and accounting for more than 40 percent of global military spending.

* The U.S. interferes in the political process of countless nations across the world

* The U.S. is leading the planet over the environmental cliff through the championing of endless growth and attendant “anthropogenic” – really capitalogenic – climate destruction.

Stuff like that.  I could go on.  (More on the capitalist destruction of life on Earth below).

But no, Judy and the NewsHour join in the New York Times-, Washington Post- and CNN-led chorus of Russia Trumps All.

This is no different than most of the talking heads across the dominant “mainstream” corporate media.  It is silly to expect anything else at “P”BS, which depends heavily on corporate, including big oil money contributions, and where the “P” seems to stand for “Pentagon” and/or “Petroleum” most of the time. It’s a predictable part of the Brave New Russified news media world that surrounds us.

Still, Judy really got under my skin last Wednesday night.  It turned out that the “NewsHour” had to interrupt its “Russia File” for eight minutes by giving its second news segment over to reports that an iceberg the size of Delaware had just broken off from Antarctica.

That’s no small development.  As Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, explained to “P”BS science reporter Miles O’Brien, ice-loss at the bottom of the world is moving faster than previously expected, in “pretty catastrophic” ways. It’s naturally linked to climate change.  Satellite data shows, Brunt told O’Brien, that “our ice sheets are changing where they are in contact with both a warming atmosphere and a warming ocean.”

O’Brien looked a little depressed when Brunt said that.  But he cheered up during two minutes of wrap-up chatter with Ms. Woodruff. Judy and Miles left the false impression that there is scientific doubt about whether the latest great breakoff from the Antarctic is related to climate change.  “This is long-term science and will just have to watch it for years to come,” O’Brien said.

That must have pleased Exxon, a leading “P”BS funder.

Yes, we’ll just watch the science for years to come – from underwater.

O’Brien did relate some good news: the new giant iceberg floating around in the Southern Ocean won’t “be in the way of any shipping channels so it shouldn’t be a hazard to navigation.”

That’s a great relief! What a shame it would be if the global petro-capitalist system that is cooking the planet to the point of inhabitability was slowed down giant, anti-commerce icebergs.

Then came the killer sign-off. The NewHour’s Antarctic segment ended with a big smile on Ms. Woodruff’s face. “Alright, our iceberg man Miles O’Brien,” Judy said, “thank you very much. Now we continue our series inside Putin’s Russia….”

Yes, back to the (post-) USSR, the real story. “And now we return to regularly scheduled programming.”

But, Judy, Judy, Judy….not funny! Silly pillow-talk-like joking (“our iceberg man”) is not appropriate here, Ms. Woodruff. Atmospheric carbon parts per million (ppm) is now at a shocking 409.21,  nearly full 10 points above just four years ago. We are now heading to 500 ppm by 2050. As Steven Newton wrote on Huffington Post last year, “That’s only 35 years away. A child born today will barely have moved out of Mom’s basement (at least, judging by some millennials) by the time CO2 reaches 500 ppm. The hundred-point rise between 300 to 400 ppm took about a century; the rise between 400 to 500 ppm will take only about 35 years, and with accelerating rates, the rise to 600 ppm will happen even faster.”

Newton left something out: that is not survivable for the species.  It’s part of why serious scientists are now raising the real specter of near-term human extinction. As the Australian Earth and paleoclimate scientist, Andrew Gliskon explained seven years ago:

“The consequences of open ended rise in atmospheric CO2 are manifest in the geological record (Frontispiece)… At 460 ppm CO2-equivalent, the climate is tracking close to the upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at approximately 500 ppm [5,7]. Once transcended, mitigation measures would hardly be able to re-form the cryosphere. According to Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Climate Impacts Institute and advisor to the German government: ‘We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet.’…Humans can not argue with the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. What is needed are urgent measures including: Deep cuts in carbon emissions; Parallel Fast track transformation to non-polluting energy utilities – solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks; Global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar. The alternative does not bear contemplation.”

“The alternative” is underway, aided and abetted by a dominant U.S. media that is absurdly obsessed with RussiaTrump to a degree that is egregiously irresponsible given the pressing significance of other topics, including climate change, the biggest story of our or any time.

It’s also a story to which Trump is intimately connected. As Noam Chomsky said before the election, Trump and the lunatic Republican Party’s opposition to climate protection and their promise to “deregulate energy” amounted to “almost a death-knell for the species.”

Not that the dismal dollar Democrats offer any serious opposition to the capitalist melting of the planet.  They don’t. The baking of our only world proceeded apace under Wall Street Barry Obomber.  But Trump and his EPA chief are flat-out climate changer-deniers openly committed to accelerating the destruction of the very life-support system of the planet.

The media, however, wants you to hate Herr Donald because of the one sane thing he stood for: wanting to normalize relations with Russia. What about because of his eco-cidalism? Not so much.  It’s pretty much a non-issue in the dominant media.

Something tells me that the melting of the cryosphere was not a topic of discussion between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

If you’re really looking for a scandal, think about that.  The United States and Russia, the world’s top two nuclear powers, are both headed by petro-capitalist oligarchs who could give a flying fuck about human survival and who both represent an eco-exterminist system that is choking the life out of the planet.

When does that become the top “P”BS new story for weeks and months in a row?  Don’t hold your breath.

More articles by:

Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

CounterPunch Magazine


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