James West

James West

Climate Desk Producer

James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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Will Colbert Use "The Late Show" To Save the World?

| Fri Apr. 11, 2014 3:07 PM EDT
Bill O'Reilly on Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central show in 2007.

Jumping from his niche cable show on Comedy Central to a plum CBS slot will roughly triple Stephen Colbert's national television audience. So when he takes over David Letterman's late night show next year, we at Climate Desk be tracking one thing in particular with great interest: Will he bring his astute political satire about global warming to an even bigger audience?

None of the current late night barons—Kimmel, Fallon, Ferguson among them—are especially notable for speaking out about climate change, though they occasionally work it into the odd monologue or guest appearance. Colbert is different. In his role as right-wing Satirist-in-Chief, Colbert has regularly skewered climate deniers by pretending to be one of them. One of my favorites is this takedown of Fox and Friends (a frequent target of the show), whose hosts had accused Nickelodeon of pushing a sinister warmist agenda...via SpongeBob Square Pants:

 

And this year, he nailed Donald Trump:

 

But Colbert has not just mercilessly parodied the attacks on climate science, he has also delved into some of the more complex aspects of climate adaptation, including geoengineering. During an interview last year, Harvard University environmental scientist David Keith presented the case for pouring out sulfuric acid into the atmosphere to temporarily ameliorate the effects of warming. "It would be a totally imperfect technical fix," Keith said. "It would have risks. It wouldn't get us out of the long-run need to stop polluting. But it might actually save people and be useful."

But perhaps his best—most sobering, most blistering, most poignant—take on the subject was during this segment from January 2013, where he lampooned an emerging trend of commentators throwing up their hands in faux despair, and resigning themselves to the fate of a warming world. (In this case, he's going after Erick Erickson, who worked for CNN at the time):

COLBERT: Sure, I know: America beat Tojo, we crushed Hitler, we put a man on the moon, but incrementally reducing CO2 emissions? That sounds like a lot of work. And how can fight an enemy we can’t see? I mean, get out of here, get, get out of here, carbon! [Swats air]. Did I hit it? I don’t know. So it’s high-time we stop trying to solve the problem and resign ourselves to each day getting worse. Because ladies and gentlemen, when Erick Erickson says "get used to it", he means get used to city-swallowing storms, mass extinctions, deadly heat waves, crippling floods, and droughts that make a desert out of Oklahoma. And, that's just how it is now. Our problems are just too big to cure. So join me and Erick. Give up. Crawl into bed with a cheesecake and wait for death. And now, sure, the only thing worse than global warming itself might be knowing you're destroying the planet, and doing nothing, but if guys like me and Erick have our way, you'd better get used to it.

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Viewers are Furious With Animal Planet for Mistreating Animals on "Reality TV"

| Tue Mar. 25, 2014 6:36 PM EDT

Upset viewers of Animal Planet are venting on social media after Mother Jones uncovered photographic evidence of animal mistreatment behind the scenes of the TV network's hit show, Call of the Wildman.

Every garden-variety item that the network has posted on its Facebook page since our investigation published on Monday—the rescue of a baby moose, the birth of an endangered kakapo, photos of "15 puppies so precious you'll forget your own name"—has been flooded with comments about the much sadder coyote photo included in our report, which reveals the animal confined to a cramped trap three days before a film shoot in which the animal handler and Wildman star known as Turtleman planned to "capture" it by hand.

Under the baby moose post—which asks Animal Planet followers, "Who doesn't love a happy ending, especially when it involves an animal as cute as this one?"—D'Shannon Llewellyn writes: "We all love happy endings but more so when they aren't staged and involve abuse and stress that is intentionally inflicted on the animal for the financial profit of your tv station. #CalloftheWildman Staged, Abusive, and certainly not animal loving."

Rona Seltzer posted a message echoed by other commenters, writing that she has now "stopped watching/supporting animal planet due to so many stories about abuse on some of their shows."

"The images and investigation coming out of that show are absolutely disgusting," wrote Ryan M Simmons. "It's 2014, not 1814. The short lived days of glamorizing white trash who have no regards for the well being of animals have passed."

More from Animal Planet's Facebook page on Tuesday:

Amid a lengthy thread on the Facebook page of Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals in California, Barb Ruguone summarizes a theme pointed out by multiple commenters: "You'd think that a channel named Animal Planet would be working for the humane treatment of animals and education and not contribute to their abuse. I was so sad to learn of their part in abuse."

There has been a similar outpouring on Twitter. Michael McIntyre ‏(@FeverCityStudio) summed up the mood this way:

Meanwhile, on Turtleman's own Facebook page, fans either seem unaware of the revelations or they are sticking by their guy: 

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