Big Oil Climate Disinformation | Credit: Monte Wolverton, Battle Ground, WA

Our Constitution contains absolutely zero provisions listing environmental standards as an enumerated Federal power. For all of American history up to 1970, these issues were the sole domain of state and local officials. The results were devastating.

In 2010 the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v the Federal Election Commission wiped out any chance that environmentalists could effectively compete with Big Oil’s massive spending advantage. In 2018, Big Oil contributed almost $100 million to candidates running for Congress, outspending environmentalist lobbyists by a hundred to one margin. In the following years, these numbers increased even more.

For example, every time you filled up your car with gas from Exxon from 1998 to 2005, a portion of that money was contributed to organizations waging war on any questioning of climate change. Well over $30 million dollars has been spent to convince us that climate change was a hoax. All of this took place while the corporate hierarchy at Exxon knew full well how devastating the result of climate change was going to be to their customers.

For the last 20 years Big Oil has taken out full-page ads in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, saying that climate-change science is fake. It continuously stressed that anything that hurt its business to curb global warming was ill-considered and premature.

During the first decade of the 21st century, the combined annual income of the top 100 climate-change counter-movement organizations, including think tanks, advocacy groups, and industry associations, was over $900 million . This has now far surpassed a billion dollars that are being paid by people who know better to undermine the public perception of the climate-change catastrophe.

A who’s who of right-wing advocacy organizations quickly jumped onto the climate-change denial bandwagon. These well-paid patriots worked tirelessly to stir up doubt about the science behind climate change. They spread baseless rumors that the issue was a hoax created by United Nations bureaucrats. They ignored the data and facts and instead pushed unfounded lies to undermine public confidence in scientific truth. All of this in the name of profit.

It worked. The countermovement launched by these conservative think tanks and lobbyists created an attitude of “environmental skepticism” that persists up to today. Some of the real champs who would rather make money than admit the sky is falling included the brothers David and Charles Koch, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and many others. They worked in concert with their lobbyists who give about three-quarters of all their funding to the Republican Party, which New York Times Paul Krugman calls “the world’s only major climate-denialist party.”

We don’t have room to highlight all the fanciful lies that Big Oil stooges have tried to foist upon us. Some of the whoppers include the esteemed senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, debunking the hoax of climate change by bringing a snowball into the Senate chamber gleefully tossing it as if somehow being in a snowball fight would debunk the work of thousands of environmental scientists.

Even better was Alabama representative Mo Brooks standing up in Congress and claiming that the current sea-level rise is being caused not by melting glaciers but rather by coastal erosion and silt that flows into our oceans. Strange nobody noticed that before?

There are countless other examples of climate foolery being voiced by our leaders. They are almost always said by Republicans. They truly believe that thousands and thousands of scientists from around the world are part of a coordinated massive hoax. They never tell us who’s secretly behind coordinating these scientists into spreading information about the reality of climate change. Instead, they just ask us to sit back, relax, and enjoy the bountiful gift our creator has given us by providing the wonderful gift of the internal combustion engine.

In the last few years, after having spent hundreds and hundreds of millions lobbying to delay or block any possible impact on their profits that climate change legislation would have caused them, Big Oil had no choice but to suddenly see the light.

Awash in record profits, they made this money by producing an ocean of oil. The International Energy Agency, which tracks this kind of stuff, estimates that in 2023, the production of over one hundred million barrels of oil a day will contribute to further profits.

What will they do with these hundreds of billions in profits? They’ll do what they’ve always done. Avoid paying as much as they can in taxes, do gigantic buybacks of their outstanding stocks, and reward themselves with obscenely lavish lifestyles.

What they won’t do is chip in to help pay for the damage their product is causing. Last year a record $300-billion-plus in damages were caused by floods, heat waves, storms, and wildfires related to climate change.

Big Oil has finally realized that this kind of devastation could no longer be dismissed as “bad science.” Instead, they’ve now jumped on the environmental bandwagon. They spent a couple of hundred million dollars last year taking major media buys to show how supportive they now are in helping us fight climate change.

Perhaps we should change the old classic phrase of “putting your money where your mouth is” to “putting your money where your media is?” Last year Big Oil spent less than 3 percent of its profits on environmental projects, the rest they pocketed as profits. Profits they spend on expanding the destruction of our planet and making themselves even richer.

People in the future will look back on what’s happening today and ask why nobody was able to stop Big Oil from destroying our planet. Maybe it can still be done, but we’re quickly running out of time.


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