There is perhaps no more effective way to centralize (in writing) the climate disaster humans have put ourselves in other than talking about it using the most urgent language. Climate change and its effects on humanity is arguably the most pressing and consequential problem of our time and will continue as such for the decades that follow (unless we have already totally scorched the Earth by then)
If we simply aggregate human activity, we uncover that humans as a whole have generally consumed more and have subsequently wasted more over the last 50 years. Human-driven climate change and humans in general in recent decades are directly at fault for the extinction of animals across varying ecosystems, unprecedented levels of pollution, and the total decimation of habitats (famous examples include the coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest) necessary to keep the planet cool, preserve necessary wildlife, and remove harmful pollutants from the air.
It is a well-kept secret (or at least not mentioned in any debates I have had), however, that because we live in a corporate economy (i.e. that corporations are responsible for driving most economic activity), the 100 largest corporations in the world–especially big oil corporations–produce 71% of global emissions driving of climate change since the late 90s1 and doing the most harm to our planet. By contrast, the wealthiest Americans tend to consume and pollute astronomically more than the typical American2, or at least the bottom 50% of income earners of the world. Just consider Bill Gates’ house and just imagine for a second just how many emissions that must dump into the atmosphere on a regular basis. Obviously Gates and the rest of the ultra wealthy are not only not helping to combat the issue, they’re actively making it worse. Thankfully, the general public is growing increasingly aware of the climate crisis and concede that only aggressive action (as well as action against billionaires concerning their wealth) is necessary to appropriately deal with it.
Companies Emitting the Most C02
And this brief list doesn’t even include Shell or BP. And if you know anything about BP, you also know that they should not be allowed anywhere near an ocean.
There exists an entire industry of lobbyists, political and PR campaigns, and corporations willing to throw their money behind organizations willing to (falsely) advertise just how little they want the general public to believe they should be held responsible. This is evidenced in the phenomena called “greenwashing,” where the petroleum lobby and fossil fuel industry together simultaneously block any meaningful climate action (because they know it would effect them the most) while lying about it in the media through PR and marketing campaigns. It is also not a secret that polluters like Koch Industries donate both known and unknown sums of money to political candidates and organizations (the Bradley Foundation and Donors Trust) which then help elect Supreme Court judges sympathetic to their cause. The Supreme Court justices they help to elect have a long and documented history of unwavering support for pro-business, anti-regulation, and climate-change denialism policies. They then purport to be beyond “beyond politics.”
The big oil companies and fossil fuel lobby are known liars. They have been sued time and again for their total destruction of natural habitats and for contributing to the planet’s heating at accelerating rates. Then they lie about it. Just as the the tobacco companies were knowingly lying about the risks of smoking cigarettes, even dumping hundreds of millions of dollars to generate misleading studies in an attempt to discredit the truth behind the risks of smoking and how it can directly lead to cancer, the petroleum lobby and fossil fuel industry knowingly lie about their role in burning the Earth while hampering the public’s collective initiatives to improve the situation. Their efforts are to combat all evidence climate scientists have been producing for years in order to minimize their role in the utter decimation of the climate. Thankfully there is more talk about the need to invest in greener and more environmentally conscious infrastructure and that we should be funding efforts to transition to a carbon neutral world.
There is no good reason, nor has there ever been any good reason, to trust large oil companies and the fossil fuel lobby, just as it has been proven unwise to listen to the bunk science of the tobacco industry. No reasonable person today would argue that smoking cigarettes doesn’t do irreversible damage to your body (helping to cause cancer) the way climate change does irreversible to the planet, natural habitats, wildlife. To be sure, environmental racism also is important to acknowledge, because the impacts of climate change are known to disproportionately impact poorer and minority communities. Therefore, environmental policies centralizing climate justice should be an operative goal of lawmakers, as it is overwhelmingly progressive and popular.
There are several policies Congress could deploy to both limit the influence and impact of oil companies and invest in desperate climate infrastructure. The Green New Deal is the boldest and most progressive policy I’ve seen. There is no reason that in 2021 we cannot solve this crisis. There are no real barriers to this, as the only obstacles are but matters of political will (as so many things are). One example of a political obstacle is the Dems’ baseless and maddening need to maintain ipartisanship. From 2016 to 2020, Donald Trump and the Republicans completely ransacked governemnt, exercising their power whenever they felt like it and however they felt like it. They even rammed through three Supreme Court Justices. If we want to enact muscular and necessary change, the Dems need to abandon the idea of bipartisanship, because many of the most half-baked and ridiculous policies ranging from climate change to campaign finance reform have been creatures of bipartisanship. We need more contest, not less, to wield power for the sake of positive change as well as take care of the planet and all living creatures within it. There is no more room for fecklessness and timidness.
Additionally, The Democrats (with their control of all relevant policymaking branches of government) need to pass sweeping and bold legislation like the Green New Deal to combat climate change and rectify its harmful impacts. There is an incredibly small window of time to handle climate change, and we are approaching the point of no return.
Finally, there is no good reason to believe that we somehow cannot “afford” to fix the planet. This is a cosmic crisis far more important than some bullshit concerns about the government debt and budget deficits. There is no good reason to think that somehow money should be the one thing keeping humanity from reversing the trajectory of a monumental and life-threatening hell snowball of death that is the climate crisis. The cost of the Green New Deal and reversing the effects of climate change may be expensive, but that’s just going to have to be the cost of a livable planet. And for that, I think almost any amount is a worthy investment.
- Carbon Majors Database Report: https://b8f65cb373b1b7b15feb-c70d8ead6ced550b4d987d7c03fcdd1d.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/cms/reports/documents/000/002/327/original/Carbon-Majors-Report-2017.pdf?1499866813
- Oxfam Report: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/carbon-emissions-richest-1-percent-more-double-emissions-poorest-half-humanity