Averting catastrophic global warming requires completely overturning the status quo, changing every aspect of how we use energy — and doing so in under four decades. Failure to do so means humanity’s self-destruction, Hell and High Water.

Media coverage of the problem and the solution has been dreadful (see here and here). But why?

In his new cover story on Paul Krugman, Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas unintentionally provides the answer — the shocking, unstated truth about the media elite: They have “a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are.”

Assuming we don’t spend the mere 0.11 percent of GDP per year needed to avert catastrophe, future generations who are puzzled about our fatal myopia need look no further for explanation than Thomas’s full remarks. He begins with the amazing admission, “If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am),” and continues with words that should be emblazoned across journalism schools around the country and read out loud at every Ivy league college graduation:

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By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring. But sometimes, beneath the pleasant murmur and tinkle of cocktails, the old guard cannot hear the sound of ice cracking. The in crowd of any age can be deceived by self-confidence

Thomas was writing about the current economic crisis, but his words apply far better to the global Ponzi scheme. Indeed, his words could not more ironically apply to the catastrophic global warming that he and his establishment buddies are all but blind to:

the old guard cannot hear the sound of ice cracking.

This might just be an epitaph for modern human civilization (see here and here and here).

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Glenn Greenwald’s column in Salon, “Newsweek‘s unintentionally revealed, central truth,” put me on to this story. He notes that it is not just Thomas, but “also most of his media-star colleagues,” who are “of the establishment persuasion.” He concludes:

One day in the near future, Thomas should have a luncheon or perhaps a nice Sunday brunch at his home, invite over all of his journalist friends who work in the media divisions of our largest corporations, and they should spend 15 minutes or so assembling these sentences together, and then examine what these facts mean for the actual role played by establishment journalists, the functions they fulfill, whose interests they serve, and the vast, vast disparities between (a) those answers and (b) the pretenses about their profession and themselves which they continue, ludicrously, to maintain. … To make the discussion less strenuous on the guests’ brains, Thomas, as a good host, could provide visual illustrations such as this and this.

Also, in the name of consumer protection, television news shows and the largest newspapers ought to place that above-excerpted paragraph by Thomas as a warning at the top of every product they produce.

Hear! Hear!

In Part 2, I’ll look at the dean of D.C. establishment media, David Broder.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.