ExxonMobil is bad. Really bad. And they’re not going to behave properly. Ever. They’re also not going to be sorry, and they’re not going to stop lying and deceiving and cheating. In other words, there is absolutely no fix for that company, or for that industry.
As I write this and as you read this, ExxonMobil is doing the modern day equivalent of emptying its files into a bonfire. Luckily for the planet, it isn’t as easy as it used to be. Because of the incredible, in-depth and well-documented reporting by many devoted environmentalists and green groups, the “bread crumb trail” was nailed firmly into the ground, and no amount of file dumping is going to erase it. It may sound crazy, but I’ve seen, first hand, many of ExxonMobil’s online pages disappear since the Inside Climate News investigation reports began, being replaced with this:
The truly galling thing to me is the sheer audacity of ExxonMobil pretending they’re not “caught.” Like a petulant toddler, this mega-corporation from hell just keeps bleating out the same lies and pat denials and will, no doubt, do so until their ship is sunk, which is precisely what needs to be done. These fossil fuel behemoths, who have ruined literally everything, must be dismantled and picked apart, piece by piece, with the nationalization of their infrastructure, stockpiles of pretty much everything, knowledge base, equipment, technology, and capabilities — all to be harnessed towards reversing the damage they’ve done, and to help us save ourselves. And I’m not talking about this happening to just ExxonMobil, because as “dirty” as they are, they’re not lone operators, by any means. Whatever they’ve been caught at has, and is, surely being done, by their ilk at fossil fuel corporations big and small, here and abroad. Their industry is rife with deception and wrong doing to the point that others can only aspire to their depths.
I guarantee that ExxonMobil’s fleet of well-heeled lawyers (who saw this coming) and assorted minions are pulling all-nighters trying to concoct excuses, identify scapegoats, and drown out the “Known Knowns” with a tsunami-worth of garbled background “noise,” while continuing to dispatch their denier mouthpieces (who will stupidly try to prove blind loyalty to the beast) to make us look away, even for a moment, so we lose sight of the prize goal. There can be no accommodation, no compromise, no leeway, absolutely no “blinking.” Any hesitation or whiff of uncertainty is merely seen as weakness, and we are, after all, talking about an industry, and in the case of ExxonMobil, the company, that perpetrates this on our planet, literally skinning it alive:
And while ExxonMobil’s management feverishly works to devour and bury its own, along with a supertanker worth of bodies in its closet, I promise you that other oil super majors are doing the same after that initial shiver of excitement wears off while they watch their enemy under fire. They, and their cadre of lawyers, are just waiting for the dots to be connected to them, as well. But this one is going to get really, really messy. Unlike the RICO tobacco litigation, which put a small dent in that industry’s shenanigans, the fossil fuel industry has embedded itself, from the bottom to the absolute top, within and throughout the halls of power. It’s worth noting that ExxonMobil’s reaction to the NY Attorney General’s subpoena was a public statement looping in the US Department of Energy, the UN’s IPCC, and major educational institutions. In fact, and I believe I’ve established this in my writing, there are very few unblemished politicians, academic institutions, and government agencies that will be spared the public’s scorn once this investigation heats up. This is, of course, exactly “how” we got to this ugly place.
Now is the time for the biggest of ideas, the longest of “Hail Mary’s,” and the grandest vision of a (possible) future for our species, given what has been put into play in New York. Thanks to a memo which went out on September 9, 2015 from the Department of Justice, we now know that more than a slap on the wrist is not only possible, it’s practically being encouraged through Justice’s prodding that criminal charges be levied as well as civil corporate wrongdoing. It will require that the public aggressively demand that criminal investigations run alongside the civil investigations into ExxonMobil. This is not the moment to sit back and be grateful that someone finally has done something. It is not our chance to collectively “exhale.” We have not even BEGUN to fight climate change and give ourselves more than a fleeting 1% chance to outrace our own nearly-inevitable extinction.
I remember being shocked and angered by just how different, how much better, this country could have been “post recession” had Barack Obama grasped and truly desired a better world for us all. In her incredible book, “This Changes Everything,” Naomi Klein laid out how it actually should have played out:
“All told, three huge economic engines—the banks, the auto companies, and the stimulus bill—were in a state of play, placing more economic power in the hands of Obama and his party than any US government since the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Imagine, for a moment, if his administration had been willing to invoke its newly minted democratic mandate to build the new economy promised on the campaign trail—to treat the stimulus bill, the broken banks, and the shattered car companies as the building blocks of that green future.”
We the people must entice each and every state’s Attorney General to join New York’s AG Eric Schneiderman, thus empowering and protecting him (and by extension, all of us). Then, we cannot merely settle for the fines and regulatory constraints placed on the tobacco industry through the RICO Act (which will NOT, by the way, solve the problem of climate change). Instead, we must, as if our lives depend on it, because they do, capitalize on this incredible moment in the history of our species, to take back control of our situation and give back to our planet its natural ability to heal itself from such wounds. And you might be thinking, “Hmm, WHAT incredible moment is this?”
If you just “swoop out” you’ll realize that we’re at a proverbial fork in the road. We are mid-stride in the Sixth Mass Extinction, and this one is caused by us. We’re teetering on so many ecological tipping points that the Arctic, Siberian, and Pacific Northwest methane is literally hitting the fan. The oceans are heating up and dying and we have altered the natural world so much that we’re physically changing the Earth’s gravity. Is this going to lead to some seriously fucked up volcanism? I don’t know, but I sure don’t want to wait and find out the hard way. Meanwhile, there is a presidential election underway and Bernie Sanders has managed to harness and galvanize a very significant segment of the population, many of whom were disgusted and dismayed before he entered the race, resigned to just voting for the least bad choice. Concurrently, we are experiencing an astounding, never before seen fluidity and connectedness with one another via the Internet. This has enabled the freest flow of both information and ideas, allowing each to spread like a drought-induced wildfire.
We know what we need to do. We have the means and the tools necessary. This moment, and this momentum, are, without question, the best chance we’ve had yet. The social, economic, and political impediments to saving ourselves should not be, and are not, as inflexible as the laws of physics.