Courtesy of msnbc.com
First off, since we’ve never met, I want to say how much I appreciate your work, and in particular what you’re doing with All In. You’re holding down some vital turf in the media landscape, and doing it with distinction—and I know how challenging that can be.
And I especially want to offer big, sincere thanks for The Politics of Power—it’s no small thing to air an hour of prime-time television like what we saw on Friday night. Your commitment to elevating climate, and climate politics, as a regular part of the show’s coverage is hugely encouraging. And I’m glad, speaking as someone who’s deeply engaged in the climate fight, that you don’t shy from suggesting the severity and urgency of the climate crisis—or at least, that you begin to suggest it. Which is far more than can be said of most of our media.
It’s precisely because I respect what you’re trying to do that I feel moved to write here with what I hope is constructive feedback. I don’t expect you to respond to this. I mean, if you have time, great. If not, I completely understand. (I used to produce a two-hour daily talk show on NPR, so I know the kind of pace at which you work.)
I felt there were three pretty important things missing from The Politics of Power.
The first is what I’d call a full dose of climate reality. I would’ve liked to see you explain to viewers the real carbon math, and the true magnitude of the challenge we face—as spelled out so starkly and effectively by folks like Bill McKibben, Joe Romm, David Roberts, The Nation’s Mark Hertsgaard and others, not to mention the IEA, World Bank, even PwC and HSBC—and to explain what it means for the kind of planet our children, yours and mine, will inherit this century if we don’t radically change course. I’m referring to the fact that something to the tune of 80 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground, over the next four decades, if we’re going to have a shot at a livable climate. Not only that, but the IPCC reported in 2007 (in its most recent assessment report) that global emissions need to be cut some 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 in order to have a reasonable chance of making the required 80 percent reductions (or more) by 2050. The IPCC’s new assessment report, due out this year and next, may paint an even more urgent picture.