Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Corporation Control

In response to the great comment left by Laura on my last post ("The Eleventh Hour - continued"), I need to clarify a couple of things.

There is no doubt whatsoever that corporations such as McDonalds and Starbucks are bad for our environment.  It cannot be denied that fast food outlets (and, yes, Starbucks is a fast food outlet) create tonnes of incredibly unnecessary waste, what with disposable cups (which will at least biodegrade eventually), lids and straws, wrappers, plastic salad containers (which REALLY pisses me off - be healthy, but environmentally irresponsible).  But along with creating a huge amount of waste (which is what we see, and with my focus on plastics is a huge pisser), these types of outlets have had much more wide-ranging and deep-reaching effects.  Just read "Fast Food Nation" to get a good idea of how McDonalds has been a primary driver in creating factory farms, destroying the Amazon rain forest and transforming our food system into the life-sucking behemoth it is today. 

But you know what?  These types of corporations are not at the heart of the matter.  At the heart of our entire way of life, and particularly at the heart of environmental degradation is the Oil Industry.  The Oil Industry is also at the heart of pretty much all of the modern conveniences that we enjoy today.  And that is why they get away with what they do.  We like our conveniences.  They make life "easier".

I read this just this morning (in that book "Eaarth" that I was telling you about): 

"In case you think the fossil fuel companies are less powerful now than before, think again:  Exxon Mobil made more money in 2006, 2007 and 2008 than any company in the history of money.  'It's the world's greatest company, period,' one Goldman Sachs analyst gushed to a reporter.  'I would put Exxon up against any other company at any other period in time.'  Exxon has spent the last decade underwriting an elaborate disinformation campaign to sow doubt about climate change and with reasonable success; 44 percent of Americans believe global warming comes from 'long-term planetary trends' and not the pumps at the Exxon station.  And the company has a clear idea of where its future lies.  By its calculation, solar, wind and biofuel will account for just 2 percent of the world's energy supply by 2030, while oil, gas and coal will represent 80 percent of the pie - and Exxon and its ilk may possess the political power to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The company doesn't see 'much business sense' in investing in solar or wind or geothermal.  'For the foreseeable future - and in my horizon that is the middle of the century - the world will continue to rely dominantly on hydrocarbons to fuel its economy,' insists CEO Rex Tillerson."  (Eaarth, by Bill McKibben, 2010 - pp.55-56)

Exxon has the money - they can buy whomever they want - and don't think that's an over-exaggeration.  When you have that much money, and so many people rely on you for their living, you have huge political power.  Your employees will vote for whomever is going to protect their jobs.  Because survival is the first concern on anyone's mind.  You need a job.  If your job is threatened, you will do what you have to to protect it - including ignoring and supporting long-term damage to the environment.  Because as an individual, standing up to your company will only get you fired.  The company will go on because they can hire someone else who will work for them because they get paid.  Someone else can worry about the environment - they just want to eat (and buy that nice R.V. or quad that they've been dreaming about - and live in a bigger, air-conditioned house with a pool and two or three cars and enjoy their time off from their mind-numbing job).  So if you threaten their job - by wanting to cut back on the use of oil - the masses will fight against you.  And if they are backed by Exxon, well ... you get the picture.

You know, along with the separation of church and state, there should be a separation of industry and state, don't you think?  That might go the furthest in helping fix the economy.

Anyhow ... to get back on point, the Oil Industry has enough money to buy the rights to electric cars (see the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car"), water-powered cars, and any other type of alternative energy technology.  And they have.  For decades.  It is only now, with the collapse of our eco-system and enough people getting behind movements to help slow this down, that there is enough support behind wind and solar power to keep it from being stopped by Big Oil.  But is is a constant struggle against their propaganda.  After all, it's much easier to believe that everything is okay ... isn't it?

Every aspect of our lives - every one - has been created, altered or influenced by the oil industry.  EVERY ASPECT.  (food production is now almost completely reliant on petroleum-fueled machinery, fertilizers made from petroleum bi-products and chemical herbicides and pesticides; energy production is almost entirely fossil-fuel based; communications are made possible by that fossil-fuel made electicity and the petroleum-based plastics industry; the health care infrastructure we have can only survive in a robust oil economy; our education system is the same).  The oil industry has us by the balls.  And we really don't want to lose our cushy lifestyle.  So the environmental movement has a lot to fight against. 

Not until more towns go up in flames from raging wildfires, or get flattened by hurricanes and tornadoes, not until more houses are flooded out, not until insurance is so costly that very few can afford it - not until more disasters strikes more people - not until then will people finally wake up and see what is happening.  And by then ... it will really be too late.

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