Climate Change is the Biggest Threat to the Earth - And Trump’s Cabinet Gives it a Push.
We’re teetering on the edge of a global catastrophe. We created an undying pollution machine that has acidified our oceans and poisoned our air and is melting our ice caps. We face mass extinctions for both flora and fauna. We face food and water shortages. We face rising sea levels, advancing deserts, and intensifying natural disasters. We, as a species, face the greatest-ever threat to our existence.
We know what the problem is, to the tune of an overwhelming scientific majority. We even know how to combat it. Yet we continue trudging down our path of assured destruction. To be a climate scientist is to be incredibly patient or on strong anti-anxiety drugs. I imagine some climate scientists, in hindsight, wish they’d pursued geology. Nobody says, “igneous rocks are a total hoax.”
No matter how many studies are published and how many qualified voices join the chorus, many American politicians choose to ignore the scientific community as it warns us about climate change. No matter how real the threat or how much the planet will suffer, big money and special interests favor the status quo. Some even favor regression. Through globally sourced data and satellite imaging, we can see how exponentially rising global temperatures are changing the planet. And still we play with fire.
Enter President-elect Trump. In the whirlwind of chaos that has been his Cabinet appointments, Trump has nominated many people who stand at odds with the departments they intend to lead. Two prime and cruel examples are Scott Pruitt for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Rex Tillerson for secretary of State. For the sake of our planet, we should address them first.
The case against Pruitt speaks for itself. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt has two lawsuits pending against the EPA. Both seek to undermine regulations aimed at slowing climate change. This should be no surprise, as Pruitt is a friend to the fossil fuel industry. Working with groups associated with the fossil fuel interests, sending a letter to the EPA written by fossil fuel lobbyists, Pruitt does not hide his contempt for the agency he might lead. And if confirmed, he will probably try to gut it, a move that would leave lasting consequences, even if Trump lasts only one term.
Now, what could be worse than a friend of the fossil fuel industry leading the EPA? A fossil fuel industry titan painting the world black as secretary of State.
Rex Tillerson is an insidious threat to global stability. He helms ExxonMobil, the second-largest corporation in the United States by revenue and eighth-largest in the world. In case you didn’t know because you live in a Scandinavian bike utopia, ExxonMobil deals in oil. This corporation, along with the rest of the oil industry, has used its great power and wealth to solidify itself as an undying machine in the world economy, with pollution being the main export. We face a State Department run by a man who controls one of those machines. Even his name, Rex Tillerson, biasedly harkens bleak thoughts.
The T-Rex died out eons ago. It has turned to oil over millions of years, and ExxonMobil is plundering it from the earth. And that great beast, which perished in a mass extinction, is now contributing to the next as Rex Tillerson’s private jet burns it. To see the danger Tillerson represents, you must think not as a mortal, but as an undying machine.
Start thinking in centuries, as entities do when they reach the oil industry’s level of power and wealth. Oil corporations created an industry around future scenario planning. This was pioneered as a way to plan for shocks in the market and global change. They paint pictures of the future based on events playing out in the short term.
The defense industry took a page out of the oil industry’s book and frequently conducts future scenario planning. In 2004, a Pentagon report labeled climate change as our single greatest threat. And now a man who runs the machine largely responsible for that threat has been thrust into a position to cover the tracks of the fossil fuel industry, further strengthen its positions, and plunge the world into total chaos. So often conflict arises when we struggle to secure our most basic needs, such as food and water. Climate change is imperiling the availability of those resources. As the Pentagon put it, “Once again, warfare would define human life.” The secretary of State must deal with this future crisis. Tillerson, as secretary of State, could actively undermine global stability through fossil fuel friendly policy. This would wall off the United States from the world as the number of climate refugees rises, and he could protect the interests and profits of the industry that bears the blame.
As far back as the 1970s, ExxonMobil knew of the link between fossil fuels and climate change. Scientists working for Exxon, at a conference in 1991, said that fossil fuels were increasing greenhouse gases, going so far as to say, “Nobody disputes this fact.” Nevertheless, ExxonMobil and the other gas giants continued to spread false information and sow doubt regarding climate change and its link to the fossil fuel industry.
Today, a group of state attorneys general is mulling a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for its role in climate change and its suppression of evidence for climate change. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating ExxonMobil for the way it accounts for climate change. And as our condition spirals from bad to out-of-control, more lawsuits and actions against the perpetrators of climate change are sure to follow. Standing in the way is Rex Tillerson — today as CEO of ExxonMobil and, if Trump has his way, tomorrow as secretary of State.
Author: Robert Zappa