rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The climate is changing rapidly, but the oil industry is not

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Tar sands in Fort McMurray. Image: Kris Krüg/DeSmogBlog/Flickr

It's easy to think we're beyond denial over the climate crisis, now that even oil industry executives are talking about taking it seriously. But, as with many politicians, what industry leaders say publicly often belies what they're doing behind the scenes.

An investigation by Greenpeace project Unearthed has drawn the curtain back on this duplicity. Investigators posing as recruitment consultants contacted two senior Exxon lobbyists who revealed the company's ongoing campaign against efforts to address the climate emergency.

During a May Zoom call, Keith McCoy, a government affairs director in Exxon's Washington, D.C., office, admitted the company's public support for carbon pricing was little more than a talking point.

"Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans and the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that but it gives us a talking point that we can say, well what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we're for a carbon tax," he said.

Dan Easley, who left Exxon in January after working as chief White House lobbyist during the previous U.S. administration, talked about the company's wins under Trump, including a corporate tax rate cut, which was "probably worth billions to Exxon."

Under our current system, money is more valued than life. We share a planet, fuelled by the sun, that provides everything we need to live and live well. But we invented a system based on profit and endless growth, one that encourages rapid exploitation of nature, avaricious accumulation and rampant consumerism.

Early 20th century industrialists figured that if everyone drove around in inefficient gas-guzzling behemoths sold as "freedom," it would be a win-win, providing endless profits for the auto and oil industries. And we were off! No worries that fossil fuels -- concentrated stores of solar energy that took millions of years to form -- are finite and should be used wisely. Who cares that burning them extravagantly creates pollution and drives climate disruption, putting our health and all life in peril?

There's money to be made, the bulk of it concentrated in the offshore accounts of a few.

This summer, "heat domes" spread across western North America, coinciding with record low tides to wipe out billions of hardy intertidal plants and animals such as clams and mussels. June heat records broke worldwide, from northern Europe to India, Pakistan and Libya.

Devastating European floods shocked even the climate scientists who have been predicting them. Parts of Tokyo were drenched by the heaviest rainfall since measurements began.

Last year, another global heat record was broken. If June's record-breaking temperatures are any indication, this year will be among the top 10 hottest, with even hotter years looming.

What the hell are we doing?

Why are we letting industry get away with disrupting the climate past the point of survivability? Why are we letting governments subsidize and promote oil, gas and coal with tax and royalty breaks, pipeline purchases and nonsensical "war rooms" and inquiries? Why do we put up with major media outlets and industry continuing to spread dangerous climate misinformation when the science couldn't be clearer? Why do we listen to deniers at all?

The only necessary conversations about the climate crisis now are about solutions. Because industry and governments have been yammering about a gradual transition for decades while doing as little as possible to transition at all, we've missed the opportunity for "gradual."

Rapid change doesn't mean total disruption or upheaval, if we do it right. In fact, many measures necessary to resolve the climate and biodiversity crises -- shifting to renewable energy, electrifying almost everything, increasing energy efficiency, protecting carbon sinks like forests, wetlands and grasslands -- would also increase equality and fairness, reduce pollution, improve public health, create good jobs and even prevent pandemics.

It's all interconnected. That means what we do as individuals matters. But, as much as personal measures like conserving energy and switching from cars to active or public transport are important, what's really needed is public pressure. Get involved with others in your community, join climate strikes and actions, write to or call your political representatives and talk to people you know to help build momentum.

People who derive their wealth and privilege from continued, wasteful exploitation of fossil fuels are not going to change overnight. Now we have to.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington.          

Learn more at davidsuzuki.org

Image: Kris Krüg/DeSmogBlog/Flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.