Call this greed what it is: evil.
Years ago, when I was a medical student riding ambulances in New Orleans, we pulled into an alleyway one night to aid a woman who’d been raped and to take her to Charity Hospital. Seeing what someone had done to her, I learned then that mean, evil people exist. Think Vlad the Impaler or of those who ordered the use of thumb screws at the London Tower. As much as we don’t like to use a judgmental label like evil, evil exists.
Fossil-fuel caused climate change chaos has begun the eventual devastation of millions of people and other species through storm, floods, fire, drought, ocean rise, forced mass migrations, and mass extinctions. We know that now because of our monitors in the ocean, land, sky, and space, and because of the world’s many scientists who serve as modern day prophets.
Smoking was once cool, but now we know it causes emphysema, lung cancer and heart disease. Radium once made bright and easy to read our watches, but now we know it rotted away the jaws of the radium girls who wet the tips of their brushes with their tongues. We learned and we changed. Fossil fuels powered us into modern civilization, but now we know they are destroying the ecosystem which keeps humanity alive. We must change. The fossil fuel system must be rapidly transformed to a net-zero-greenhouse-gas system for our survival. But some companies are actively fighting that transformation so as to prolong their profits, which—in the light of what we know now about the climate crisis—is evil.
Some fossil fuel companies are using their power and money to campaign on Facebook to defeat politicians who support the bill that would—if passed—redirect our nation’s future toward clean energy (and in the same bill, remove taxpayer provided subsidies to fossil fuel companies). For years, these companies used their substantial powers to obfuscate the climate change discussion and to perpetuate the myth that climate change was not happening, and they profited immensely from the resulting delay in action. We are suffering now because of their scheming. Now, these companies are campaigning hard to delay our desperately needed rapid transformation to clean energy—and that delay will add to the heat, fire, floods, droughts, and winds that will displace and shatter millions of people and that will extinguish species.
It’s not a man with a knife, but instead a white-collar executive with a company board, but the result of both their actions are ugly and terrible. We know now what will happen if we don’t transition quickly to clean energy—and yet fossil fuel companies, to extend their years of profits from fossil fuels, are actively fighting the transition and are working hard to undermine those courageous politicians who are striving to ward off chaos and misery for many.
Look at the actions and the damage it does to people and species.
Call this greed what it is: evil.
– Hiroko Tabuchi, “In Your Facebook Feed: Oil Industry Pushback Against Biden Climate Plans,” New York Times, 30 Sep. 2021, In Your Facebook Feed: Oil Industry Pushback Against Biden Climate Plans
– Henry M. Paulson Jr., “We’re Living Through One of the Most Explosive Extinction Episodes Ever,” 30 Sep. 2021, New York Times, explosive extinction
Snippet synopsis: We’re in terrible extinction times; Mr. Paulson presents ways to get out of them.