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A few months before the Trump administration announced an end to the federal government’s war on electricity generated by coal when it rescinded the Clean Power Plan, the National Geographic (Nat Geo) channel, supposedly a bastion of science journalism excellence, ran a biased, anti-coal propaganda piece, From the Ashes, falsely claiming coal is causing everything from health problems to climate change. A short “viewer’s guide” by James Rust and Edward Hudgins, released by The Heartland Institute, effectively falsifies many of the claims made in Nat Geo’s docuganda.
For example, From the Ashes misleadingly labels carbon dioxide, “carbon pollution.” However, as Rust and Hudgins point out, “Far from being a pollutant, CO2 is a naturally occurring gas that has been in the atmosphere for hundreds of millions of years, well before humans walked the planet. It is necessary for the cycle of life on Earth.”
Thousands of studies demonstrate higher concentrations of carbon dioxide increase plant growth and crop yields, which is why greenhouse operators add carbon dioxide when growing plants. By contrast, not a single study can show carbon dioxide is toxic to humans as current or anticipated levels.
While From the Ashes pushes the idea renewable energy sources can replace coal-fired power plants for electric power generation, the facts tell a different story. Rust and Hudgins show wind and solar power sources create their own environmental problems and cannot serve as reliable either baseload power or on-demand power, being dependent on the availability of sunlight and wind.
As Rust and Hudgins point out, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised Nat Geo’s piece is biased, since as a review of the program in Varietypoints out, “[t]he film is part of Michael Bloomberg’s environmental efforts, which have included a commitment of more than $100 million via Bloomberg Philanthropies to move the U.S. away from coal and toward clean energy.” Another key collaborator on Nat Geo’s film is the misanthropic Sierra Club. It seems Bloomberg got what he paid for in From the Ashes: a piece of anti-coal screed, not a serious examination of the benefits and costs of coal power or carbon dioxide.