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“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman

12. Why Our Lives Depend on Keeping 80 Percent of Fossil Fuels in the Ground

The Spring 2016 issue of YES! Magazine featured articles on the theme “After Oil.” Bill McKibben, the founder of, wrote that, when it comes to climate change, the essential problem is not “industry versus environmentalists, or Republicans against Democrats. It’s people against physics.” For that reason, the compromises and trade-offs typical of most public policy debates will not work, because “lobbying physics is useless.” What does physics tell us? McKibben reported that we “have to keep 80 percent of the fossil fuel reserves we know about underground,” the aim of a Keep It in the Ground movement that began five years ago.

At that time, McKibben reported, environmentalists engaged in climate policy focused on reducing demand. Such an approach has been making “slow but steady progress.” Reducing demand was working, but not quickly enough, so the Keep It in the Ground movement focused on the supply side of climate policy. “We have to leave fossil fuel in the ground,” McKibben reported. The world’s remaining concentrations of fossil fuels can be understood as “money pits”—untapped coal, gas, and oil could be worth $20 trillion—or as “carbon bombs,” which will wreck the planet if they are used. For this reason, the Keep It in the Ground movement has opposed the Keystone pipeline and what would have been the world’s largest coal mine in Queensland, Australia, while advocating for colleges and universities, doctors’ associations, and churches from around the world to divest from fossil fuels. Blocking pipelines, McKibben wrote, cuts the fuse on the carbon bomb, while divestment campaigns have “driven the necessity of keeping carbon underground from the fringes into the heart of the world’s establishment.”

With alternatives to fossil fuel becoming increasingly less expensive, “we don’t need to win this fight forever,” McKibben wrote. Instead, if we can hold off fossil fuel development for “just a few more years … we’ll have made the transition to clean energy irreversible.”

That transition was the focus of Richard Heinberg’s article, which reported on what the US could do in the next ten years to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Heinberg, a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, wrote that the transition to renewable energy would be unlike previous energy transitions, which were “additive” and “driven by opportunity, not policy.” We still use firewood, even after adding coal and other energy sources, for example. By contrast, the shift to renewable energy would involve trading our currently dominant energy sources for alternative ones “that have different characteristics,” entailing “hefty” challenges.

Heinberg and his colleague David Fridley, a scientist in the Energy Analysis Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have analyzed and assessed a variety of already-formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. In Heinberg’s YES! Magazine article, he provided a summary of three “levels” of change, tailored to the United States. The first level focused on what can be done “relatively quickly and cheaply,” scaling up to the third level, which would take “long, expensive, sustained effort” to implement.

First, the transition would be kick-started by shifting electricity production from coal sources to solar and wind power. Since solar and wind power generate electricity, “it makes sense to electrify as much of our energy usage as we can,” Heinberg wrote. Along with retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and increasing the market share of local organic foods, level one changes “could achieve at least a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions in 10 to 20 years.”

Level two addresses “harder stuff,” including some of the consequences of how solar and wind power differ from fossil fuels. Because solar and wind provide intermittent energy, when they become our primary energy sources, we would have to “accommodate that intermittency,” for example by significantly increasing “grid-level” energy storage and by timing energy use to coordinate with available sunlight and wind energy. Although most manufacturing already runs on electricity, many raw materials either are fossil fuels or require fossil fuels for mining or transportation. “Considerable effort” would be required to replace industrial materials based on fossil fuels. Adding level two changes would achieve “roughly 80 percent reduction in emissions” compared to our current levels, Heinberg reported.

Level three addresses the “really hard stuff.” Concrete is currently fundamental for all kinds of construction. Making cement—concrete’s crucial ingredient—requires high heat. Theoretically, this could be provided by sunlight, electricity, or hydrogen, but this shift would entail “a nearly complete redesign of the process,” Heinberg reported. Similarly, eliminating all fossil fuel inputs from our food system would require not only local organic food (as noted in level one) but also the redesign of the food system “to minimize processing, packaging, and transport.” In the transport sector, paving and repairing roads without oil-based asphalt is “possible,” but would require “complete redesign” of processes and equipment. Aviation fuels have no good substitute, and air travel might have to be relegated to a “specialty transportation mode,” he wrote. Together, however, addressing these most difficult aspects of the transition to renewable energy could get us “beyond zero carbon emissions.”

Leading up to and in the aftermath of the United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place in Paris in December 2015, popular and corporate media featured limited coverage of the Keep It in the Ground movement and its issues. An article in the Huffington Post quoted the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, as saying, “Three quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground,” a position that illustrated, according to the article, “how the discourse is moving ‘upstream,’” from controlling emissions to limiting fossil fuel production. In January 2016, Time magazine ran a brief article on a scientific report published in the journal Nature, which found that 80 percent of coal reserves, half of gas, and one-third of oil reserves could not be used if the world is to avoid global temperatures rising more than two degrees Celsius. Notably, however, the Time coverage of this report—just five sentences in length—was based entirely on a much more detailed article on the findings, originally published by the Guardian.

Bill McKibben, “Why We Need to Keep 80 Percent of Fossil Fuels in the Ground,” YES! Magazine, February 15, 2016,

Richard Heinberg, “100% Renewable Energy: What We Can Do in 10 Years,” YES! Magazine, February 22, 2016,

Student Researcher: Janzen Adisewojo (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)

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