Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Denial is a Money-Maker

In the U.S., about 70% of people believe climate change is real, 35% believe it's caused by humans, and 16% are worried about it. The 30-minute film, "The Doubt Machine: Inside the Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science" explains how many people have been tricked into a false belief. It features Michael Mann, who was also in recent films made by Josh Fox and Leo DiCaprio. What makes him so important? He published the "hockey stick graph" in 1999, which shows how industrialization connects directly to the increase in global temperature, and he was summarily attacked for it.

Later used in Gore's Inconvenient Truth

It was a matter of shooting the messenger. There were death threats made to him and his family, and money was offered to his colleagues to discredit him. He was eventually cleared of all wrong-doings. The smear campaign was funded by Charles and David Koch.

The Koch Brothers own a $100 billion oil, chemicals, and minerals empire. They control 1-2 million acres of the Tar Sands in our fair nation. And you thought this was just an American problem! Their number one goal is to stop any climate action. They do this by controlling Congress and the Senate by paying off politicians directly. The 52% of Senators and 39% of member of Congress that are in their pocket have pledged to stop any policy that will impede their business ventures. Because the US is so influential, this is the single biggest obstacle to climate change action.

The film doesn't say this, but if it weren't for the "intent to destroy" line in the definition, what the Koch brothers are doing is genocidal in nature: deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a group in whole or in part. Okay, it's not a deliberate intent to destroy life; it's just an unfortunate side effect of their business model that will take down 100s of millions of lives. That's all.

Climate change is all real. The worst predictions keep coming true, and it's going to get so much worse really soon. We stand to pass 2° threshold by 2050. How much money does it take for politicians to allow policies to continue that will destroy the world for your children? About a million dollars on average.

The API - American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of the oil industry, uses the same methods as the tobacco industry to provoke doubt. Remember this?

Charles and David's dad, Fred Koch, was a chemical engineer from Texas who couldn't get an in to promote his tactics in the U.S., so went abroad and set up refineries for Stalin and Hitler. Really. He trained his sons in neo-liberal, small government philosophies. In the 1990s, the Koch family needed clout in Washington to stop regulations that would impact their profits, so they got involved in bribing lobbying politicians for their support. Now their reach is unprecedented in its complexity. Any politician that runs counter to their policies is hung to dry, like republican Bob Inglis.

They have the cash to bombard the public with whatever message they need them to hear. And they have rounded up scientist-types who are making a fortune denying climate change. One of the most famous is Willie Soon, an aerospace engineer who carefully allows people to believe he's a climate scientist, even though the difference is huge. There were some climate scientists who were skeptical, but not now. There is too much evidence matching GHGs to climate change that it's clearly not just a matter of solar variability.  No scientist educated in climate studies is currently denying that this is a human effect that requires human action to slow it down.

ETA: And now they own Time Magazine!

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