‘Splainin’ to Do: Oil Execs on the Tobacco Hotseat

September 18, 2021

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Phillips

Decolonial Atlas:

Just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. The guys who run those companies – and they are mostly guys – have gotten rich on the backs of literally all life on Earth. Their business model relies on the destruction of the only home humanity has ever known. Meanwhile, we misdirect our outrage at our neighbors, friends, and family for using plastic straws or not recycling. If there is anyone who deserves the outrage of all 7.5 billion of us, it’s these 100 people right here. Combined, they control the majority of the world’s mineral rights – the “right” to exploit the remaining unextracted oil, gas, and coal. They need to know that we won’t leave them alone until they agree to Keep It In The Ground. Not just their companies, but them. Now it’s personal.

Peter Kalmus in the Guardian:

The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”.

These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown.

First, consider “by 2050”. This deadline feels comfortably far away, encouraging further climate procrastination. Who feels urgency over a deadline in 2050? This is convenient for the world’s elected leaders, who typically have term limits of between three and five years, less so for anyone who needs a livable planet.

Pathways for achieving net zero by 2050 – meaning that in 2050 any carbon emissions would be balanced by CO2 withdrawn through natural means, like forests, and through hypothetical carbon-trapping technology – are designed to give roughly even odds for keeping global heating below 1.5C. But it’s now apparent that even the current 1.1C of global heating is not a “safe” level. Climate catastrophes are arriving with a frequency and ferocity that have shocked climate scientists. The fact that climate models failed to predict the intensity of the summer’s heatwaves and flooding suggests that severe impacts will come sooner than previously thought. Madagascar is on the brink of the first climate famine, and developments such as multi-regional crop losses and climate warfare even before reaching 1.5C should no longer be ruled out.

Meanwhile, “net zero” is a phrase that represents magical thinking rooted in our society’s technology fetish. Just presuppose enough hypothetical carbon capture and you can pencil out a plan for meeting any climate goal, even while allowing the fossil fuel industry to keep growing. While there may be useful negative-emissions strategies such as reforestation and conservation agriculture, their carbon capture potential is small compared with cumulative fossil fuel carbon emissions, and their effects may not be permanent. Policymakers are betting the future of life on Earth that someone will invent some kind of whiz-bang tech to draw down CO2 at a massive scale.

The world’s largest direct air capture facility opened this month in Iceland; if it works, it will capture one ten-millionth of humanity’s current emissions, and due to its expense it is not yet scalable. It is the deepest of moral failures to casually saddle today’s young people with a critical task that may prove unfeasible by orders of magnitude – and expecting them to somehow accomplish this amid worsening heatwaves, fires, storms and floods that will pummel financial, insurance, infrastructure, water, food, health and political systems.

It should tell us all we need to know about “net zero by 2050” that it is supported by fossil fuel executives, and that climate uber-villain Rupert Murdoch has embraced it through his News Corp Australia mouthpiece.

So where does this leave us? Stabilizing the rapidly escalating destruction of the Earth will require directly scaling back and ultimately ending fossil fuels. To lower the odds of civilizational collapse, society must shift into emergency mode.

It will be easy to tell when society has begun this shift: leaders will begin to take actions that actually inflict pain on big oil, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing a moratorium on all new oil and gas infrastructure.

Below, one of my more popular videos gives some context for the Tobacco/fossil fuel connection.

2 Responses to “‘Splainin’ to Do: Oil Execs on the Tobacco Hotseat”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    Running a 4-decade mile

    It’s fantastic to see the immune system speed its response, even though we’re not where we need to be yet because of the small size & isolation of the immune system—the climate-&-left activist media—because of denial of ecological and psychological realities on a deep level. When I started doing this we’d encounter new climate denialogisms (faux pause, birds & windmills…) and would answer as well as we could, researching as we went. It was often 5 years after the 1st appearances of each viral strain before we began to see coherent bodies—antibodies—of scientific research response, & longer to effective prose and graphic interpretations of it degunking each lie. It was even longer that the denialogisms persisted; I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve talked past some ideologically mired…individual…to present evidence of the existence of warming or (one of my favorite/least favorites) some wannabe inventor engineer with yet another bizarre tangle of a laws-of-thermodynamics reason the Earth couldn’t warm—even as thousands of studies had showed it actually is warming.

    Was it about 4 years ago climate denial just began to collapse? as it was abandoned, not because it was being disproved by science—that had happened decades before—but because hardly anyone was buying it any more, literally or figuratively.

    Politicians and trolls left the wreckage of denial and the “I’m not a scientist” potshot behind them as they retreated, & the current pack of mewling disruptors with ARF & economic themes are the transformed outright deniers with variations of the SOS. Still FLICCing, still frgoked, but we’re inching along against billions of dollars of resistance.

    Coherent arguments against the new excuses are being spread by people others actually listen to, only a year or 3 after those not many people listen to much started formulating them. Carbon capture, net zero 2050, Chinadidit, Chinadidit… I know they haven’t reached the corporate media like anti-Chinese warmongering has, but it does seem it’s about to commence to start to almost begin to have an effect. Behind the scenes.

    But Ro is either being naive or lying, & the Democratic leadership is still lying and in denial over the direness of the crisis, and the depth, breadth, and radicalness of the solutions needed. This is not tobacco. Goddamn both parties to hell for their lying and manipulations to preserve the lashing out collapsing economic-political system they suck from.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    They’re going to use average consumers as human shields.

    “People are used to combustion vehicles, dagnabbit!”

    “What, all the rich people can afford EVs but all of the poor and working class can only afford to keep their old ICE vehicles and have to pay more for gas!”

    “What about all the liberals and politicians flying around in the most polluting transportation?”


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