The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Climate Change and the Oil Industry

Jul 19, 2021

A series of heat waves with record-breaking temperatures scorched the Northwest for weeks in June and July. Combined with a severe drought crippling western states, the extreme heat then triggered dozens of large, devastating wildfires that have been raging across more than 1 million acres of land, including high-elevation forests in western U.S. and even forests in the boreal region of western Canada near the Arctic.

Exxon made headlines six years ago, when it was revealed that already in the 1970s, the company knew that burning fossil fuels at the same rate would lead to the kind of disasters we are seeing today. But for decades, Exxon executives continued to hide this information from the public; and they bribed politicians to undermine legislation aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

By the 1990s, scientists were predicting the occurrence of more, and more severe catastrophes due to global warming. But throughout the 1990s and much of the 2000s, oil industry executives denied it. Seeing a threat to their exorbitant profits, oil companies called into question the role of human activity in global warming, and bought politicians, as well as a small number of scientists, to help Big Oil to deceive the population.

Today, in the face of the overwhelming evidence, Big Oil executives no longer deny that burning fossil fuels is behind these catastrophes. But it’s just words. They have not changed their policies in the slightest; and the latest proof for this are the words of Keith McKoy, an executive and lobbyist for ExxonMobil.

During a conversation recorded secretly, which McKoy was made to believe was a job interview, McKoy bragged about Exxon’s machinations to forestall legislation to reduce carbon emissions. He described how Exxon has been lobbying (that is, bribing) Congress members from both parties. McKoy names politicians and gestures as if angling for fish, likening his own part in this to that of a fisherman—the fish being the politicians.

Exxon and the rest of the oil industry continue to fight every effort directed against global warming, knowing full well that disasters caused by global warming are throwing millions of people into misery—while their profits continue to go through the roof.

They are merchants of death and destruction, who are being richly rewarded for their crimes by a system that puts their greed above human life—a system called capitalism.