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Global Warming Blog

Brokaw Besieged
Discovery Channel's recent documentary on global warming blamed for lack of science
Posted July 31, 2006 by Nathan Cool

The Discovery Channel, combining its partnership with NBC news, has joined the ranks of those touting the calamitous effects of climate change in a recently aired special titled "Global Warming: What You Need to Know," hosted by Tom Brokaw. This two-hour documentary--although overly pepper with about 30 minutes of commercials--does contain impressive footage, reliable sources and a well-written script. But it, like other recent compendiums on climate change has bent towards bias. While I enjoyed watching Brokaw's special report, something was missing: no one was interviewed or mentioned during the entire documentary who refuted the human-induced stance or countered any of the scientists featured on this show. While being correct on most points brought up during this recent documentary, the science was not weighed in. This isn't to say that the show is entirely hogwash; instead, if Brokaw had backed up his findings through even the slightest of challenges, the production would not seemed to have selectively picked pieces of truth from a single perspective for another pulpit preaching condemnation of industrialization.

The Discovery special on global warming failed to do what science does best: search for answers by inviting all viewpoints. By failing to do so, as expected, it incited a war of words from the skeptics' trenches, including one attack from that infamous office of Senator James Inhofe: The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

In a recent press release Inhofe's group of anti-global warming watchdogs attacks not only Brokaw's recent documentary but also Brokaw himself. Referring to Brokaw's "partisan past," and that he is "financially affiliated with left wing environmental groups," the doubt squad in Inhofe's office infer that Brokaw's latest work from the Discovery Channel is just a lot of hyped up hooey. From my past articles that have mentioned Inhofe's office as well as my discussion on this cynical senator in chapter 4 of my upcoming book, Is it Hot in Here?--The simple truth about global warming, it's clear that this team of scoffers has their own bias as well; thus, we once again face that binary situation I mention time again throughout Is it Hot in Here? that polarizes the debate on global warming and hides the truth that lies within the grey area between the extremes.

While Inhofe's team of dirt diggers lobs stones at Brokaw's documentary and slings mud at the show's guests, the Inhofe party and Brokaw have each formed what is now a disparate dichotomy where one may wonder who's right, and who's wrong. The truth of the matter though, is that both parties have some legitimacy to consider, but you'd have to read oh so carefully between the lines. With fairness to Inhofe's attack squad, we need to remember that the Discovery Channel failed to make a science documentary, since to keep science "scientific" one needs to open the door to all views and not just belief systems. Brokaw's special does not include views from any skeptic--not even one. As I mention in Is it Hot in Here? there are indeed some reputable skeptics out there who are seen as credible by many scientists in the pro-global warming camp. It doesn't mean the show has to agree with them; instead, most documentaries often have a bit of back-and-forth where oftentimes the one with the last word makes the intended point (usually the pro stance).

Nearly every documentary I've even seen--from shows on the Bible to the theory of evolution to space travel and UFOs--have all interviewed people holding varying viewpoints. Brokaw's latest Discovery Channel special though seemed to leave this out, which I thought was not exactly fair, and made the show seem a little preachy.

Then again, would a two-hour special--where every ten minutes you're bombarded with commercials--hold your attention if it didn't lay down some apocalyptic hype right before a break to advertisement ad nauseam? I'll admit that 45 minutes into watching Brokaw's special for the first time, I dozed off about midway through (somewhere between the world is coming to an end and that we all need to run for the hills). I suppose much of that had to do with Brokaw's infamous drone-like dialect, which lulled me into a Saturday afternoon slumber. Yet personally, I feel it had much to do with the fact that the show was slanted a bit toward ominous dire and lacked the courtroom-type drama of healthy contention that bolsters the foundation of scientific rigor. This would have allowed each of us to determine the facts, instead of being sermonized by single-minded standpoints.

Brokaw did a good job at portraying a very serious issue. The slanted approach used in this show however just adds fuel to the fire of skeptism.

More information on the pro and skeptic global warming viewpoints, Senator Inhofe and other topics discussed in this blog can be found in my new book, Is it Hot in Here?--The simple truth about global warming. To get your copy, Click Here.