Editing Out the Truth

Film Recommendation

Everything’s Cool (2007)

Although this one came out a couple years ago, it is no less relevant and insightful. In Everything’s Cool, the documentary filmmakers Daniel B. Gold & Judith Helfand explore the science behind global warming, and the United States government’s response to the plethora of scientific evidence and urgent warnings that immediate action and attention are needed. The alarms were met with cool cynicism and doubt.

During the Bush years in particular, the American President’s response was the often repeated mantra, “we need more information.” Truth be told, this isn’t necessarily a horrible reply. It seems logical enough. Well, it turns out that the US government had copious amount of information. Indeed, piles and piles of it, all leading to the same infallible conclusion. The planet is warming as a direct result of human industrial activity.

Government Censorship

The problem highlighted by the documentary isn’t that the planet is warming, rather the government, who are responsible for representing the population’s best interests, were in fact responsible for essentially censoring the truth about climate change. This was done in a particularly oblique and manipulative manner, not merely blocking out the reports, but literally editing the publications to insert words here, omit words there, in order to dilute the message and generate confusion. One such arbitrator of truth was the man put in charge of overseeing what climate science related publications are released by the government. Interestingly enough, this individual, White House chief of staff for the Council on Environmental Quality Philip A. Cooney, happened to be a non-scientist and former oil lobbyist. US citizens would have continued on none-the-wiser were it not for the actions of a frustrated whistleblower by the name of Rick Piltz. Piltz was a senior government climate research coordinator, who resigned in protest and came forward to denounce this “editorial” practice on scientific research. Although Cooney eventually resigned from his role and returned to the petroleum industry, the mechanisms by which this censorship took place are still in effect. Meanwhile, Mr. Piltz was left ostracized and destitute, passing away from liver cancer in 2014 (but not before starting up Climate Science Watch in 2006, and  Winning the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling from The Nation Institute).

controlling the message

There were a number of other mini stories reported in the film, but I’ll leave you the pleasure of discovering them. Overall, I enjoyed the documentary, finding it to be enlightening and definitely worthy of recommendation. Strangely enough it has also become increasingly difficult to find. While I had first watched this on Netflix, it is no longer available there (US or Canada), nor is it on iTunes. There exist a number of online sites that share documentaries as well, but unfortunately this one isn’t on it. As far as I can tell, you may need to find it at a local rental place (if such establishment still exist around your neck of the woods), borrow from local library, or rent it via Amazon. It does appears available to rent via Amazon Videostream, however this service is not yet available in Canada.

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