Al Jazeera America: Act on Climate Change or US Cities Will Drown

On the first day of Al Jazeera America on Tuesday, Inside Story treated climate change as fact, offered no dissenting opinions or guests, and led viewers to think American cities are going to be underwater and ablaze because of climate change.

The daily 30-minute discussion program hosted by former C-SPAN anchor Libby Casey will presumably delve deeply into a specific issue during each episode.

The program debuted with images of wildfires and graphics of waves threatening American cities in way that was reminiscent of the movie The Day After Tomorrow. 

Casey, who also worked for Alaska’s public broadcasting network and fairly moderated a 2006 gubernatorial debate in Alaska in which Sarah Palin participated, said climate change was the “new normal.”

She proclaimed that “hotter,” “drier,” and “windier conditions” “brought about by climate change” is the “new normal” for the western United States.

Casey declared major cities on both coasts were at risk of going underwater this century–unless Americans act by reducing fossil fuel emissions. 

Unshackled now that she is away from C-SPAN and probably does not have to interview guests with whom she disagrees and have the presence of a neutral arbiter, Casey had on three liberal climate change evangelists–Michael Mann, a principal figure in the East Anglia University “climategate” email scandal, Heidi Cullen, a climatologist from Princeton, and Klaus Jacob, a disaster management expert. 

There were no guests who were skeptical of climate change, even though Casey conceded that only 40% of Americans felt climate change was a serious threat, unlike majorities in most countries throughout the world.

The episode’s goal was to alarm those who were watching to embrace climate change.

Casey cited a study by the National Academy of Sciences that claimed 1,700 U.S. cities are at a greater risk of rising sea levels and many are “locked in” to a future below sea level. Casey said, though, that roughly 1,000 cities may be saved if fossil fuel emissions are lessened and action is taken now–and the guests suggested cap and trade programs needed to be enacted.

Mann reiterated that the cost of inaction was greater than cost of action on climate change and blasted Republicans for creating a “gulf” between scientists and the public on the matter by spreading “disinformation.”

Cullen said those who believe in climate change had to “hammer home” that it is real by tying it to Hurricane Sandy; she also claimed voters felt climate changed caused Hurricane Sandy, when, in fact, the contrary is true. 

Klaus said every day the country does not act on climate change will threaten lives and livelihoods and cost the nation more money in the long run. He said sea levels may rise to the point where cities like Boston would have to undertake “managed retreat” programs to higher lands while cities like Miami may well be “written off.” 

Casey is a polished host–and her neutral “CSPAN” voice and tone is disarming. But she is a sophisticated liberal with an agenda that will be well received in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Expect people like Amanda Little if there are more shows devoted to climate and energy, and other liberal “thinkers” and so-called “intellectuals” who are fashionable to mention at dinner parties and seminars in university towns, Davos, or liberal enclaves in fairly conservative states–like Austin, Texas or Asheville, North Carolina–to frequent the program. 

They will get chances to promote what will be unabashedly liberal agendas. And, from the looks of things, Casey’s guests will be able to do so without being challenged by other guests–or the host. 

Image credit: The Day After Tomorrow (Flick Direct)