Fox News host Tucker Carlson has recently made the rounds on the network to promote his latest Fox Nation documentary, Blown Away: The People vs. Wind Power, which cobbles together many of the same tired, debunked attacks on wind energy, solar power, and climate science that he has promoted over and over again on his weeknight show. As a result, his new documentary is an overblown, overproduced hit job on wind energy that adds nothing new to clean energy discourse, while completely ignoring the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate change.
Carlson’s anti-wind documentary attacked wind energy with the same old debunked misinformation
Carlson’s new documentary makes various unsupported and debunked assertions about wind energy. For example, Carlson claims that politicians “spent tens of billions in tax dollars propping up wind projects that wouldn't work without federal subsidies,” failing to mention that fossil fuels have received trillions of dollars in direct subsidies. In fact, according to a recent Guardian article, “The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were ‘adding fuel to the fire’ of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.”
Research from 2019 also found that wind power is cost-competitive with dirty sources of energy such as coal and natural gas. Analysis from the investment firm Lazard found that when federal subsidies were included, the cost of building new onshore wind ($28 per megawatt hour, on average) is cheaper than the marginal cost of coal ($34 per megawatt hour). Additionally, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance wind analyst noted that by 2030, “It will even be cheaper to build new wind farms than to run existing gas or coal plants in much of the U.S.”
A large section of the documentary rehashes many of the outright lies Carlson and other Fox News hosts told about the Texas blackouts in February. The wave of power outages in Texas earlier this year was caused by both long-standing issues with the state’s energy grid and the failure of natural gas “in the most spectacular fashion,” not frozen wind turbines.
Another section addresses environmental complaints about wind energy, including its impacts on nearby people and wildlife. Research finds that only a small percentage of residents living near wind turbines report hearing noise and, rather than killing a larger number of birds, wind turbines account for 0.1% of “unnatural” bird deaths. (Meanwhile, climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels has the potential to kill up to two-thirds of bird species in North America alone -- a fact that was conveniently left out of this documentary.)
That is not to suggest that renewable energy does not have any harmful environmental impacts that need to be addressed and mitigated. But the real agenda of Carlson and anti-wind advocates is to thwart the growth and expansion of renewable energy and prop up the fossil fuel industry, despite the fact that the continued burning of oil, gas, and coal have created a “code red” for humanity.
Fox News helped Carlson promote his disingenuous anti-wind documentary
In addition to promoting the special on his own show on October 20 and 21, Carlson also promoted it on the October 20 edition of Fox News Primetime and the October 21 episode of The Five. These largely fact-free, friendly interviews allowed Carlson to make the more contentious assertions from the anti-wind special with zero pushback from the hosts, showing once again that Fox News is less a news outlet and more a key cog in the fossil fuel industry’s disinformation network.
Carlson, in particular, has rarely, if ever, found a fossil fuel infrastructure project he didn’t like. Prior to his gig at Fox, Carlson was incubated in a network of billionaire-backed climate denialists and fossil fuel industrialists. The Daily Caller News Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Daily Caller website, which Carlson cofounded, “accepted some $106,248 in two donations from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Donors Trust also handed the Daily Caller $60,000 in 2014.” The foundation received nearly $1 million from Charles Koch in 2017, which approached 40% of its annual revenue.
While Carlson positions himself as a friend to vulnerable people being bullied by evil renewable energy companies, he fails to similarly highlight the plight of the vulnerable people on the frontlines of the climate crisis, who have far fewer resources to adapt and rebuild after devastating natural disasters. It would be shocking indeed if Carlson ever evinced any furrow-browed concern for low-income communities and communities of color which are disproportionately harmed by poor air, water, and soil caused by fossil fuel pollution, industrial accidents, and chemical contamination.
No matter how many times Carlson cosplays as an environmentalist, he has an undeniable paper trail as a dirty-energy shill.
The promotion of this documentary gives lie to Fox News' claims that it will take the climate crisis seriously
As world leaders gather for the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, to review and further efforts to mitigate the climate crisis, Carlson and Fox are continuing their long history of shilling for the fossil fuel industry and misinforming viewers about renewable energy sources that could lead to meaningful reductions in carbon emissions and environmental pollution.
This documentary comes just as the Fox Weather app prepares to launch. The company’s claims that the new streaming service -- meant to be a safe haven for advertisers -- will take the climate crisis seriously are immediately undermined by the network’s flagship cable news show, and its other streaming products, which continue to lie about solutions that could mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
It's clear that Fox remains most invested in Carlson and in continuing to advocate against climate solutions like clean energy, even as they try to convince advertisers otherwise with Fox Weather.