The announcement by President Obama that the US would not seek a comprehensive climate deal at an upcoming global meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark next month is a gut punch to anyone who cares about the fate of the planet. A reading this past weekend of the elite press on this breakdown (The New York Times and The Washington Post for example) would have you believe it was just too tough politically to pull off.
Yet again activists are reduced to being happy that there is still another day, the next meeting is in Mexico, so a failed Copenhagen can be spun as an "important step forward." We are all starting to sound like co-dependents. This pattern has been consistent since the beginning of this process, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (the Earth Summit). How can it be that after almost twenty years, scores of meetings, thousands of participants and calls to action by millions of people around the world the only reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has come from economic collapse, not international treaty?
President Obama was elected in part on his promise to deal with global warming. So were many new members of the House and Senate. Yet the consequence has been a climate bill in the House (Waxman-Markey) that gives away billions of dollars to the coal industry and doesn't get real greenhouse gas reductions for more than ten years. Worse still, the House bill has been followed up by an even weaker bill in the Senate, which is followed by a proposal from a few senators to trade away two long-time environmental gains (a ban on offshore drilling and a mothballed nuclear industry) for an even weaker deal. WHY?
The extractive industries still have more political power than the people. They use their money effectively to maintain and increase their political power. And who specifically are these people?
Missing from the mainstream accounts are the names of the real accomplices who rarely get identified due to their heavy advertising budgets in some of the same publications. Here's my list but I hope that you will feel free to nominate others.
ExxonMobil Corporation must top any list as it spent more than 22 millions dollars from 1998 through 2008 on front groups who, among other things, downplayed or denied the science on global warming.
The US Chamber of Commerce, the only group to outspend ExxonMobil in efforts to stop climate legislation.
The coal giants: Massey Energy Company, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, Inc.
The coal industry front group: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
The utilities: American Electric Power; Duke Energy and the Southern Company.
The American Petroleum Institute.
The National Association of Manufacturers.
How do we hold these entities and the people behind them accountable? Can we stand by while the people responsible for these companies steer our world into a nightmarish future? Is it time to bring the climate actions to their board meetings, country clubs and social events? You tell me.