I’m reading Naomi Klein’s latest book, No is not enough. On climate change, I didn’t know before how long ago oil companies knew about the dangers. She says, on Exxon:
“… this company, it has now been documented, knew about climate change as far back as the seventies. According to a groundbreaking investigation by InsideClimate News (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize), Exxon did its own cutting-edge empirical research, taking CO 2 samples off its oil tankers and building state-of-the art climate models that predicted the coming changes such as sea-level rise. It also received warnings from its own senior scientists, including James Black who was categorical in his reports to his employer about the ‘general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.’ He also wrote that ‘man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.’ That was in 1978.
“By the time Rex Tillerson took over the job of general manager of the central production division of Exxon USA, these facts had long been known in the company, including the uncomfortable one about how little time remained. Despite this, ExxonMobil has since then lavished more than $30 million on think tanks that systematically spread doubt through the press about the reality of climate science. Mobil (before its merger with Exxon) even took out its own full-page ads in the New York Times casting doubt on the science. ExxonMobil is currently under investigation by the attorneys general of New York, California, and Massachusetts for these alleged deceptions. Because of this campaign of misinformation, promoted by the entire fossil fuel sector, humanity lost key decades when we could have been taking the actions necessary to move to a clean economy—the same decades in which ExxonMobil and others opened up vast frontiers for oil and gas.”
On Trump today, she says:
“Within days of taking office, he pushed through the Dakota Access pipeline, cutting off an environmental review and against the powerful opposition of the Standing Rock Sioux. He’s cleared the way to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, which Obama rejected in part because of the climate impacts. He has issued an executive order to roll back Obama’s moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, and has already announced plans to expand oil and gas drilling on the Gulf Coast. He’s also killing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. And as the administration rubber-stamps new fossil fuel projects, they’re getting rid of all kinds of environmental regulations that made digging up and processing this carbon less profitable for companies like ExxonMobil.”
Our world is run by competing mafia. We need to get rid of them. Can there be a cross-border, grassroots movement that could do it? Don’t know. But it would need to be grassroots. In this corner of the vineyard, Labour MPs, for a start, certainly don’t seem to be interested. Unbelievably they have instead renewed their determination to undermine Jeremy and his team.
My pessimism was increased by the sight of Erdogan making a speech at the G20 meeting without interruption. Amnesty International’s Secretary-General (who was present at the conference) protested in interviews afterwards that Erdogan had imprisoned Gawd knows how many journalists, dissidents and several Amnesty workers in Turkey. The irony was that when Erdogan was a young mayor of Istanbul, I think 20 years ago, he was imprisoned by the then military government, and Amnesty had campaigned for his release! No wonder the spokesperson was cross!
The real protests were outside (where, in my opinion, Amnesty should have been too). But the conference was protected from them in a kind of shout-proof, bullet-proof, armour-plated bubble. The protesters were furious at the G20, their arrogance, their hypocrisy and their smugness.
Some of the protesters may have been naughty: I saw some broken windows and heard that some of them hurled bullets in slingshots at the police. But they weren’t nearly as naughty as the G20 leaders are in the normal course of events in their day jobs: supporting and arming dictators, making profits out of poverty, destroying workers’ rights, waging war after war, undermining human rights while pretending to defend them. And their bubble wasn’t just armour-plated – it was armed: their response to the slingshots was live bullets.
As for the protesters, they also lit some rather nice bonfires. Maybe we should get round one of those bonfires quite soon and work out what to do.