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What If We Covered the Climate Emergency Like We Did World War II?

What If We Covered the Climate Emergency Like We Did World War II?

Bill Moyers

The following is an abridged version of remarks by TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at the “Covering Climate Now” conference co-sponsored by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review on April 30. You can view the video version of the speech here.


Mr. Moyers, let me say thank you for you’re years of dedication to keeping the public informed, well done.
“Other foundations and individual philanthropists will then have to step up to the challenge, and I believe they will.”
I wish I shared you’re optimism, but this subject, like you bring up in the story is not new. I think anyone who’s going to step up has already done so, but I sure hope you prove me wrong.


There is no ‘mind’ as in the phrase ‘in the public’s mind’ except that which is shown to us by our media. There is no ‘voice’ of the people on an issue except in response to what is discussed or reported on in the media (news). How do we hear about any issue except through the media? Imagine if all media reporting and even entertainment - all media including TV and radio - were suddenly gone or totally silenced. The result would be that we would know absolutely nothing about what is happening in the world at all.

If it isn’t covered by the media then it simply doesn’t exist - in the public’s mind.


One lesson learned by the military after Vietnam was to restrict media coverage of military operations. Thus we saw ‘embeded’ reporters who only reported on what they were allowed to see and that which was okayed by operations officers.

That lesson of controlling what had been a free press has evolved into our corporate controlled press. A few giant media corporations have virtually ‘embeded’ themselves in our once free press and as Bill relates… we are the worst for it. He asks reporters to report the story despite pressure from the corporate offices because if they don’t report it…


> Can we get this story right?

Only if we find many more Journalists like Bill Moyers, AND, get them the outlets in which they can be heard unobstructed.


That Mongabay is linked is invaluable. In South America Indigenous Peoples have been organizing for decades to secure their traditional territories from transnationals and this era of elite predation. Here is a report from today
# ‘Resisting to exist’: Indigenous women unite against Brazil’s far-right president
and this is why:
[# Brazil to open indigenous reserves to mining without indigenous consent]


and Intercontinental Cry will cover
# Populist alliances of ‘cowboys and Indians’ are protecting rural lands

I am convinced that until and unless the US “middle class” and “working class” join forces with Indigenous Peoples against the abuses of predatory, extractive corporations and their usurpation of governing bodies, no progress will be made in the fight to preserve what is left of nature that is intact.

A recent analysis showed 370 million indigenous peoples have rights or claims to over 25% of the world’s land area which includes two-fifth of the world’s protected and reserved zones, mostly unrecognized. Published in Nature , the study pointed that providing the rights to land and resources to natives can ensure greater ecological conservation and meeting local and global conservation goals…


Interesting, This is the kind of reporting we might get from Democracy Now and not much else


can we please please please rid ourselves of the WW2 nonsense with reference t climate change?

WW2 was, in the ultimate sense, a colossal exercise in fuelburning

The allies had more of it than the Germans and Japanese combined—and so one the war

We cannot—repeat cannot, pull the same stunt to ‘‘defeat’’ climate change. It’s not the same thing at all. Neither is the Manhattan project, or the Apollo moon project.

Fuelburning was what created this mess in the first place—we have no surplus energy to do anything. We have reached the stage of there being no more of anything with which to sustain our existing civilisation, let alone create ‘‘new’’ forms of existence

so get real—please?/

The End of More (Pagett Amazon) explains the mess we’ve made. I can only suggest you read it


Hi Bill Moyers, if you come to read what people said of this piece.

I am wondering and worrying about what will happen to news of the small, and also the news that is great in little towns, and how we can save REAL journalism.
Is there anything YOU could do, Bill Moyers , to get struggling papers together, who are in close proximity with schools and colleges? Somehow it seems like the old and the new could combine and save REAL journalism from what corporate media thinks is news. Besides, maybe the college classes could be held at the actual little papers and count as units for the students. It seems like a perfect match of need and experience—
which could all combine to make journalism what it used to be while training journalists for the future ----- unless FAKE news stops undermining the world…


For several years now, though a couple of years younger than Moyers, as an independent environmentalist I have increasingly worried about what the world will be like when my two granddaughters begin to reach their majority in 2032. I’ve been consumed by attempts to take to the Maine legislature the energy policy implications of human-caused climate change. During the LePage administration, thankfully over, we might as well have driven into bridge abutments. My initial texts in this quest were An Inconvenient Truth, This Changes Everything, and the Sixth Extinction, then Laudato Si, and more recently, The Uninhabitable Earth, and Losing Earth. Repeatedly driving back and forth the nearly hundred miles from Brooklin, ME to Augusta, then putting myself up at a Motel 6 for days at a time, and more recently taking advantage of digital testifying (hoping, of course, that committee members peruse them), I’ve never been for a minute removed from the awareness of our universal complicity – gasoline for my hybrid, wood for my stove so I’d be warm enough to think and type, when wintering with my son’s family and being responsible for managing the recycling bins and realizing what dutiful little consumers my granddaughters already are, it will not be easy. But Wallace-Wells is right. We have it in our power to solve it in the long run, and in the short run ameliorate the worst of what will happen. But we need to start NOW! TODAY! And certainly not quibble over the global commitment people Moyers age and mine personally remember – the Gold Stars in windows, the ration books, saving string, and aluminum foil, and every other mode of sacrifice, large and small, That’s Moyer’s point and it is right on the money. www.mainelongrangeenergyplanning.com


THANK YOU BILL MOYERS for stepping deeply into the need for journalism to be as bold as our elected officials.
60 MINUTES covered it in their broadcast on March 3, 2018.
Those of you fellow citizens who want to learn more now, can go to www.OurChildrensTrust.org (the 60 MINS segment is under PRESS, then the video/radio coverage) AND sign up with support for this trial, by going to www.JoinJuliana.org (intended for Generation Z, but any of us older than age 24 can well honor someone in that age group, if you believe this trial is what we need, esp to ramp up a legal stand for the Green New Deal).

SO THANK YOU Bill Moyers for making this a focus as important and taking on WW2.

IT NEEDS THIS KIND OF FOCUS, and you know it!


Do we think that there wasn’t also major propaganda in the way the media covered WWII? Are we aware that after WWII “the government” created a massive weather modification program that researcher and author Peter A. Kirby calls “The New Manhattan Project,” which is actively creating much of the “climate” effects we’re seeing now? (see Kirby’s highly detailed book on this, “Chemtrails Exposed.”)

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Yes Bill Moyers - a step in the right direction !

There is a new proposal out recommending a nine hour work week for all - as a necessity to ‘reduce’ and prevent climate disaster.

What we have here are non-scientists actually coming to grips with the threat of extinction or civilizational collapse - and panicking. Same with the geo-engineering schemes being put forward, with one exception - direct air capture - which we will indeed need to implement.

For now - a little panic is a good thing ~

Real solutions are around the corner, but first must come Ralph Nader’s one percent actually realizing what is going on.

And what is going on is not just climate change - not by a long shot.

The ocean is acidifying, we are overpopulated on Earth, there are still over 400 nuclear power plants operating… war is still considered an option.


I have read the “Chemtrails” literature at length, and I call bullshit. I realize the True Believers (Eric Hoffer) will never waver in their Belief System, but IMNSHO 95 percent of the “Chemtrails” flap springs from misunderstanding of the reports, lack of knowledge of the relevant science, and a HUGE dose of the specific kind of fear FDR expounded upon in his First Inaugural Address, which tyrants use to distract us from the real threats they themselves pose.

On a scale of 1-10 climate disruption ranks 10, chemtrails 1. As credentials I offer a BA in physics followed by 50 years of further study, and two graduate degrees in the pseudo-science of economics, which I believe qualify me to recognize pseudo-science when I see it.


A masterful statement of the situation facing humankind, from one of the masters of journalism and interviewing in the second half of the 20th century. It is hard to make a case that what passes for for-profit journalism today is not worse than that of 1939-41, but the fact that it was as bad then as it was confers some hope that it may soon awaken.

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Forget “What if we covered climate change like WW2”. It should be more like: "Why are we not asking the public to to make the kind of sacrifices (rationing of gasoline and many consumer goods, no cars for sale, public transit and car-pooling mandatory, planting “victory gardens”) like WW2? Except, once you actually learn to live more simply and stop buying plastic crap, you find that it is not a “sacrifice” at all…


Moyers was part of journalism’s “golden age.” Yes, it was better then, than now. Keep in mind though that Chomsky and Hermans’ Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), was based on this “golden age” of journalism. They developed a “propaganda model” so consistent that you can use it today to see thru the lies they try to shove down our throats.

“What if we covered the Climate Emergency like we did WWII?”
This is a dubious question. The US corporate media’s coverage of WWII was mostly boosterism. Did they cover the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan? How about the fire bombing of civilians? The real horror was a whitewash…

The real answer is that war is extremely profitable for the ruling class. Fossil fuels are extremely profitable for them as well. Saving the planet? No so much.


Good on ya, Gandalf! Excellent comment.
*My wife and I go back to before WW-II and remember it well. Our grandparents and some of our parents were affected by WW-1, and we heard a lot about “The War to End All Wars.”
*May the Force be with you! (and perhaps all of us, we need a lot of help to save this planet.)

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Climate change and ocean acidification are irreversible natural operations caused by the operation of systems in industrialized civilization for decades. The most that can possibly be done is to make smart decisions that just slow this unfortunate process down slightly.


He is assuming that there exists a media that acts in the public interest vs. one that acts in the profit making self interest. No better way to understand the media than to watch/listen to the silence (if not the hit peaces), around Assange, Manning, and the similar rest. Moyers may be well intentioned, but he is asking an irrelevant and superficial question.

Thank you Bill Moyers for your commitment to real journalism and truth. You are a very refreshing anomaly and voice in today’s BS “reporting” charade and the now common fraud perpetrated daily of “telling the other side of the story” - AKA lies, damn lies, and phony propaganda - you know, pushing the “alternative facts” of the trump regime, other criminals and predatory capitalists/bankers/Wall Street.

“Truth is singular Its ‘versions’ are mistruths” — Sonmi 451

My great respect to you!