Friday, April 22, 2016

Fossil Energy

No economic factor has been more important to the rise of modern civilization than fossil fuel energy, and this fact has concentrated enormous political and economic power in the hands of those who find, own, and control it. The available wealth attracted the bold, the brilliant and, frequently, the slightly crazy, but public spiritedness was not necessarily a major virtue or character trait among them. The enormously wealthy men, corporations, and countries that control this precious resource were not slow to recognize the threat that public concern over global warming posed to their particular fortunes - the money at stake was clearly in the trillions of dollars. From Dark Money, funding climate denial:

The first peer-reviewed academic study on the topic added further detail. Robert Brulle, a Drexel University professor of sociology and environmental science, discovered that between 2003 and 2010 over half a billion dollars was spent on what he described as a massive “campaign to manipulate and mislead the public about the threat posed by climate change.” The study examined the tax records of more than a hundred nonprofit organizations engaged in challenging the prevailing science on global warming. What it found was, in essence, a corporate lobbying campaign disguised as a tax-exempt, philanthropic endeavor. Some 140 conservative foundations funded the campaign, Brulle found. During the seven-year period he studied, these foundations distributed $ 558 million in the form of 5,299 grants to ninety-one different nonprofit organizations.

Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 3887-3893). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In retrospect, climate scientists, environmentalists, and most politicians were absurdly naive to think the owners of trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels would meekly accept a very large fraction of their wealth being locked up in the ground just because the safety and health of billions of people was at stake. They have fought back ferociously, with all the powers that their billions can buy. As has often been the case, the Koch brothers were the first to put up big time money for the fight.