As the world continues to warm due to human-caused global warming, right wing media has been planting seeds of doubt with their fossil fuel propaganda, making it difficult for people to understand the urgency of our situation.
When major news outlets like FOX use disinformation to deny the fossil fuel industry’s role in creating the climate emergency, it is completely understandable that people dealing with inflation, rising healthcare and tuition costs look for specific people and organizations to blame.
Many of the “radical environmentalists” that the conservative media loves to vilify fall prey to the anger of people like the out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia, or the long-distance truck driver who sees high oil prices as an example of “what’s wrong with Washington.” Politicians funded by the fossil fuel industry continue to fuel that anger with attack ads that portray politicians who listen to the peer reviewed science as, “socialists paid for by George Soros.” The aggressive backlash they’ve created has been channeled into a very formidable presence that combines populist nationalism with a predatory form of capitalism that negates science and compromises democracy.
Exxon in the 1970s was on the cutting edge of climate science. Concerned about losing long term profits by fossil fuel extraction due to the dangers of global warming that was just starting to become known, they studied how the fossil fuel emissions were contributing to trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Exxon leadership changed direction abruptly in the 1980s and funded climate denial campaigns that other industries such as tobacco perfected. We are now seeing all of this come to light with states like Connecticut pursuing a lawsuit against Exxon: “ExxonMobil made billions of dollars during its decades-long campaign of deception that continues today. Connecticut’s citizens should not have to bear the expense of fortifying our infrastructure to adapt to the very real consequences of climate change. Our case is simple and strong, and we will hold ExxonMobil accountable.”
This lawsuit charges that Exxon’s own scientists knew about the dangers of global warming as stated in their own memos but chose to deceive the public. The lies have cost CT taxpayers annually and the cost will continue to grow. The lawsuit looks for help dealing with the infrastructural costs that Connecticut taxpayers will have to pay, but also looks to put an end to the deceptive public campaigns that have caused distrust of climate science.
Another factor in the climate debate is equity. The working class, folks of color and the disenfranchised are those suffering the most. Whether it’s in Pakistan, which this year had its worst flooding on record, or here in the United States with Hurricane Ian, the most vulnerable have contributed the least but have been disproportionately affected the most.
And when you factor in how countries from the Global North have profited compared to the Global South, it’s clear that the time is now to address equity, which has gotten very little attention from the media.
It was on the agenda at COP27 and reparations long overdue were discussed. But what would that look like? Maybe the world should demand that the fossil fuel companies pay for upgrades in infrastructure, especially in places like Africa and The Middle East. When factored in with the deceit and their track record up to this day, it’s not only the morally correct form of action, but also may be one of our only ways to adapt to the chaos that we are clearly seeing today that could have been prevented if they started changing direction in the 70s.
As concerned citizens we need to demand from our politicians that they honor their commitments to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel! You can contact them through email, phone and in person meetings.
If you go onto Connecticut Legislation Executive Orders on Climate, Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order 3, calls for “zero-carbon electricity by 2040.” We need to make sure that Connecticut stays true to their promise so our kids and humanity can survive.
We need everyone to keep the pressure up on all elected officials to move away from the noise and courageously lead us into a brighter future. If we lose hope now, there will be no hope!”
Joseph Hoydilla lives in Middletown.