The Hot Politics Behind Global Warming


PBS's Frontline has produced a well researched and troubling documentary entitled: "Hot Politics - Examining the politics behind the US Government's Failure to act on the biggest environmental problem of our time"

As more and more Americans look for a response to the realities of climate change, FRONTLINE correspondent Deborah Amos investigates the political decisions that have prevented the United States government from confronting one of the most serious problems facing humanity today.

Starting with the first Bush administration, the documentary shows the purposeful neglect and obscurification behind the politics of global warming, from both sides of the aisle.

Timeline: A chronology of the strengthening science on global warming -- and the United States' failure to address the issue.

Co-produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the documentary reveals an action plan memo from Joe Walker, a public relations representative of the American Petroleum Institute, that:

describes a strategy that had been used effectively by the tobacco industry in earlier years: attack the science. "Because the science underpinning the global climate change theory has not been challenged effectively in the media or through other vehicles reaching the American public," states the memo. "[T]here is widespread ignorance, which works in favor of the Kyoto treaty and against the best interests of the United States."

The coalition sought to recruit five scientists to speak to the media, distribute research papers undercutting conventional scientific wisdom, funnel a steady stream of information to science writers at newspapers and magazines, produce opinion pieces authored by scientists, and convince journalists to re-examine the theory of global warming. Scuttling Kyoto and making climate change a "non-issue" were the stated goals of all this work.


The report identifies which senators, congresspeople, business and administration officials worked to solve the problem and those whom worked aggressively to keep it from being solved.

At a press conference last year the president told a reporter that the "fundamental debate" was whether climate change was "manmade or natural." Vice President Dick Cheney echoed that view in a recent interview with ABC News.

Christie Todd Whitman is interviewed and does not pull her punches on the Bush Administration:

"The way it happened was the equivalent to flipping the bird, frankly, to the rest of the world ... on an issue about which they felt so deeply." That is how former New Jersey governor and the former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman describes the Bush administration's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol...

Robert Byrd, Chuck Hagel and others, do not come out so well.

As Bush says: "Climate Change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world."

He then goes on to trash the Kyoto accords and refuses to sign them...

Well, he got part of it right.

The documentary also pins down the infamous Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist whose global warming denying memo became the talking points of the GOP:

The full text of pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz's memo coaching Republicans on how to speak about global warming -- or, as Luntz might counsel, "climate change." While Luntz says he now believes global warming is real, his strategy of doubting the science was embraced by some prominent Republican politicians.

Rick Piltz and other scientists and journalists describe how the science was suppressed and James Hansen relays how he was told not to speak about science or policies on climate change:

"I don't think my opinion about policies has any more weight than anyone else, but I don't think I should be prevented from saying it or from connecting the dots."

James Hansen - NASA Goddard Space Sciences Institute

The surprise of the report? The coalition of big business and environmentalists (The United States Climate Action Partnership - USCAP) that has come together to demand that Congress cap C02:

USCAP Members Include:

  • Alcan Inc.
  • Alcoa
  • American International Group, Inc. (AIG)
  • Boston Scientific Corporation
  • BP America Inc.
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Deere & Company
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • Duke Energy
  • DuPont
  • Environmental Defense
  • FPL Group, Inc.
  • General Electric
  • General Motors Corp.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Marsh, Inc.
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • PepsiCo
  • Pew Center on Global Climate Change
  • PG&E Corporation
  • PNM Resources
  • Shell
  • Siemens Corporation
  • World Resources Institute


This is a stunning documentary that presents its evidence in a clear and irrefutable manner. It should be shown in every science and political science classroom and, as we face fires, floods, tornadoes and environmental refugees, by everyone else, as well, so we know who to curse as our planet shudders in horror at our neglect.

Here's a link the video of the documentary.

Here's a link to the PBS page on the story.

And this link to see where your state stands on the issue.