Last night on 60 Minutes, millions of Americans watched Donald Trump grant his first televised interview since becoming president-elect.
Veteran CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl asked about Obamacare, abortion rights, and street protests, among other things, but refused to bring up what many scientists think is the most important challenge facing the world: human-induced climate change.
Stahl is aware of the dangers of rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In 2014, she hosted a roundtable on this issue at Stanford University.
She also knows that Trump is a climate-change denier who has blamed the Chinese for inventing the problem so they can sell more goods to America. His views would be comical if they weren't so deadly.
Yet she sidestepped the issue. In the words of Media Matters for America Carlos Maza, Stahl normalized a "dangerous demogogue" by also refusing to ask about Trump's ties to white nationalists, Russian interests, or if he'll engage in war crimes. Stahl was also roasted by New York Daily News columnist Gersh Kuntzman.
So why didn't Stahl ask Trump why he's so eager to pull America out of the Paris climate accord, which some say is the best chance to save humanity on Earth?
Similarly, the big-name journalists who moderated three presidential debates refused to make an issue of climate change. Not Anderson Cooper. Not Martha Raddatz. Not Chris Wallace. And not Lester Holt.
In sum, climate change received 82 seconds of discussion over three presidential debates lasting four and a half hours.
It was the height of journalistic incompetence.
They didn't inquire whether he was going to muzzle government-financed scientists in the same way that Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper did during his 10 years in office.
None of them, including Stahl, felt it was necessary to ask Trump if he was going to cut off funding for NASA's research into climate change.
According to NASA, the average global temperature has risen 0.8° C since 1880. Every year, sea levels rise about 3.4 millimetres. Arctic ice is shrinking, with minimum levels dropping more than 13 percent per decade. Land ice is also shrinking, which is creating water shortages in countries around the world, including in parts of China, India, and the United States.
Climate change threatens the future of California's agriculture industry. It's causing mass migration from Africa, which is creating havoc in Europe. Climate change hastened the Syrian civil war, according to a study covered by National Geographic.
Meanwhile, U.S. author Christian Parenti's book Tropic of Chaos outlined how climate change led to massive increases in opium production in Afghanistan because poppies require one-sixth as much water as wheat. So climate change is also linked to drug addiction, which is taking a devastating toll on the United States.
Yet the American people elected a man who denies the very existence of man-made global warming.
And highly paid broadcasters keep refusing to ask him about this or his 100-day action plan for monkeying with the climate, which you can read below:
Given how narrow the election results were, these same broadcasters bear considerable responsibility for Trump's victory. As does Hillary Clinton, who soft-pedalled the dangers of climate change during the campaign because she wanted to win the support of those who traditionally vote Republican.
Widespread ignorance on this scale in 2016 can't be blamed entirely on the U.S. public-school system.
When Superstorm Sandy hit the U.S. eastern seaboard in 2012, it cost (US)$65 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some of the worst effects were felt in Trump's hometown of New York City, where America's most influential broadcasters also live. It's the type of extreme weather event that used to occur once in 1,000 years but is increasingly common because of rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Two or three more Superstorm Sandy-style extreme weather events in New York City over the next decade are going to have many people wondering if they should continue living in Manhattan.
The only nationally known American politician who's raising the alarm appears to be Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost the Democratic Party presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton.
The executive director of 350.org. May Boeve, referred to Trump's plans as "an all-out assault on the environment and public health".
"It’s going to be a wildly unpopular agenda and Trump will face enormous pushback,” she said. “The American people overwhelmingly support clean energy, climate action, and a healthy environment. We’re going to fight this radical agenda tooth and nail.”
Readers who are interested in learning more about the impact of a Trump presidency on the fight against climate change can participate in an online public forum at 11 a.m. (PST) on Tuesday (November 15). Hosted by the Pembina Institute, speakers will be New York Times environmental blogger Andrew Revkin, UBC political scientist Kathryn Harrison, and energy expert Greg Dotson of the Center for American Progress.