I find it interesting that at the last minute, after sifting through many potential candidates for the State Department, D Trump settled on an oil man, Rex Tillerson. Word is ex-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates floated his name.
After I read this two part article from the New York Review of Books, I am wondering if there is not some connection between Tillerson ascent to the position and the GOP’s committment to destroying the earth with fossil fuel extraction and usage. They are the only species left on earth still harping on about climate change being a hoax, so the thought crossed my mind.
The specific fact that makes these articles so interesting is they are written by two representatives who manage the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the article is written because the fund divested its holdings from EXXON. The RFF is, of course, John Rockefeller’s family and John was the founder of Standard Oil, the precursor of EXXON. The RFF is, as they admit, divesting themselves from themselves on principle.
Here is what David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman wrote at least, in relevant part of EXXON:
“For over a quarter-century the company tried to deceive policymakers and the public about the realities of climate change, protecting its profits at the cost of immense damage to life on this planet.”
Right now, most Americans do not know that EXXON’s conduct on climate change deception makes the tobacco companies’ conduct in deceiving the public on cigarettes look like perjury in court by one witness. It is no comparison. Big Tobacco was pretty clever and successful but their product wasn’t a threat to human survival on the planet.
So egregious and destructive has EXXON been to the cause of shifting the narrative on climate change and global warming that according to Kaiser and Wasserman, only 11 percent of the population actually believe there is a consensus on climate change data that human activity is causing global warming and slowly leading humanity to a grave future.
Kaiser and Wasserman also report about New York state’s effort right now to obtain records from EXXON on what they communicated to their shareholders regarding business risks and global warming and how that might affect their investments. This is heavy in other words. New York has been joined by other states and the Virgin Islands in this effort.
Imagine, state attorney generals are seeking information that basically benefits rich shareholders. The benefit: the public overall learns the truth about EXXON’s activities. Under federal laws, EXXON has to report business risks to their shareholders. This risk, I have to assume, includes, loss of profits due to curtailment of fossil fuel extraction, sale, and then burning of it.
Get the point. Fossil fuel extraction is bad news. Countries around the world want to curtail extraction. Especially countries who are feeling climate change much more seriously than the U.S. right now. If those countries collectively get their way, EXXON’s profits will be impacted or could be impacted. They have to tell their shareholders this under federal law. I am not making this up.
To add, we know what they likely told their shareholders. Yes, your profits on your shares are at risk. Climate change is real. Fossil fuel burning is what causes it and we burn a lot of it. We might have to leave some of the fossil fuel in the ground. Or, countries might pressure us to do so. That information is somewhere and these subpoenas might find it. And if EXXON knew and knows (they employ thousands of scientists), the climate change denial movement begins to come off the rail.
So now imagine, Rex Tillerson is Secretary of State. The chatter on climate change rises. Countries want to do more than the Paris accords. They surely want to make sure the accords go through but stopping extraction of fossil fuels is important.
Let us leave it there. But if you were a rich economy and wanted your economy to thrive, you would try to influence policy in your favor, right? Or better yet, you would try to get hired in a job where you could influence policy. It is so absurd it calls for two shots of whiskey tonight. Enjoy.