August 17th, 2016

exxon 160818

Back in 1978 I, and the rest of the crew of the USS Bainbridge, transited Australia’s Great Barrier Reef en route from Darwin to Tonga. Standing on the bridge wings we could look down at the reef and marvel at the teeming ecosystem that had taken thousands and thousands of year to form, nearly forty years later, that experience may not be possible much longer.

Bill McKibben, writing in The coral die-off crisis is a climate crime and Exxon fired the gun for The Guardian, explains why:

Vast swaths of coral were bleached this spring, much of the damage done in a matter of weeks as a wave of warm water swept across the Pacific and west into the Indian Ocean. The immediate culprit was clear: the ongoing rise in global ocean temperatures that comes from climate change. But that’s like saying “he was killed by a bullet”. The important question is: who fired the gun?

We know the biggest culprits now, because great detective work by investigative journalists has uncovered key facts in the past year. The world’s biggest oil company, Exxon, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its scientists understood how much and how fast it was going to warm, and how much damage that was going to do. And the company knew the scientists were right: that’s why they started “climate-proofing” their own installations, for instance building their drilling rigs to accommodate the sea level rise they knew was coming.

What they didn’t do was tell the rest of us. Instead, they – and many other players in the fossil fuel industry – bankrolled the rise of the climate denial industry, helping fund the “thinktanks” and front groups that spent the last generation propagating the phoney idea that there was a deep debate about the reality of global warming. As a result, we’ve wasted a quarter century in a phoney argument about whether the climate was changing.

All, of course, in the name of Exxon’s profits. Yes, Exxon is not the only culprit, but as McKibben has made, and continues to make, the case, Exxon is the Walmart of Climate Change/Global Warming. If you want to stop a wrong you don’t go after every offender, you go after the worst offender and work you’re way down the food chain.

Previously in The Guardian emails…

Keep Carbon In The Ground…

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