In 1977, as assistant planetarium director at the John Young Museum in Orlando, I was taking a strawberry smoothie break when an engineer friend from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL] in Pasadena phoned with a real-world puzzle. “Greenhouse” gases in our atmosphere, which trap part of the sun’s heat close to the earth’s surface, keeping us comfy, were building up, blocking too much heat from escaping. The world was growing hotter in tiny increments but at an ever-increasing rate — the heat was accelerating like a faucet dripping ever-faster into a plugged sink. If it kept going, it would trigger feedback loops that deplete oxygen in the air and oceans, scorch the land and drastically raise sea levels. Earth would survive it. Humanity might not. What could be driving this?
Richer than a small country, Exxon upon hearing reports of increasing instability in the atmosphere because of “greenhouse gases” had hired a team of top-flight scientists headed by James F. Black and provided them with a fully-equipped oceangoing research ship. Exxon, under various names, had been making a mint from fossil fuels for a century. If governments were going to take action, Exxon needed to get ahead of the game.
Scientists had known for a century that carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas. Animals, including humans, take in oxygen from the atmosphere and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees, plants, algae and cyanobacteria take carbon dioxide from the air and water, converting it into the oxygen we breathe. So far so good. However the Industrial Age with its factories making cement and above all the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas — also pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By the 1970s, it was clear that carbon dioxide was building up and so was climate change. So far, scientists had not proven the link.
In July 1977 Black’s team delivered. In a series of impeccable investigations, his team had nailed the cause. Humanity was throwing natural processes far off balance and at an increasing rate by mowing down continents of trees, cementing the Earth, and above all by burning fossil fuels, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a catastrophic rate. That is the solid consensus in 2017, but Black’s team were among the first if not the first to decisively demonstrate it.Black warned Exxon execs in person in July 1977 and repeated in writing a year later that humanity had only 5-10 years to act before feedback loops engaged. He was right about that too.
Only briefly, Exxon CEOs and major stockholders considered warning the world, leading the way to alternative energies. Deciding to tell the truth only to other global corporations, globals for 40 years insteaf kept Black’s findings about the cause of atmospheric disruption a secret as they and others insisted that climate change was “just a theory” or that there was “doubt as to what was causing it,”
The globals knew better. In 1991, Shell Oil even produced a 28-minute documentary urgently warning about climate change, calling for action, offering it to schools, before the other globals quickly got Shell in line. Top scientists went in 1988 to the U.S. Congress, in 1990 to the United Nations, etc. urging action, but industry hires were always there to deny it. Led from 1977 to 1997 by Exxon and from then on the oil refinery and chemical conglomerate billionaires Charles and David Koch, the industry over time socked hundreds of millions into misleading governments, their own investors and the world’s people.
THE MAJOR QUESTION IS THEREFORE ABOUT THOSE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS
In 2016, with Greenland meltwater releasing with such force that it warped the earth’s crust, the polar ice caps melting, deadly methane belching from thawing tundra, oxygen-dependent fish that many nations rely on for food decreasing as jellies (which do better in seas full of methane) increased, doctors worrying that conquered diseases like smallpox might get loose from frozen ancient corpses, insects like fire ants moving north, major coral reefs bleaching as the coral died, the ocean rising into Miami from under Miami, Canadian forest fires feeding on peat beds thawed so deep that they wouldn’t stop burning, deserts spreading, even more feedback mechanisms kicked in….
Yet only in January, 2017 — 40 years after Exxon found out — dis former Exxon CEO Rex Wayne Tillerson [President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State] publicly admit what is happening. Exxon still takes no responsibility.
The fossil fuel industry story reminded many of 1994, when after decades of lying ,tobacco-product manufacturers led by Philip Morris finally admitted that smoking and chewing tobacco are “somewhat addictive” and cause cancer. For me, the most chilling aspect of that p;f tobacco was what those tobacco CEOs had been doing during their decades of public denial. There had been almost no lung cancer before cigarettes were mass-marketed in the early 1900s. By the 1950s, lung cancer was a world epidemic and it was medically clear why. Yet the tobacco industry sowed so much doubt that only 1/3 of doctors knew that smoking caused lung cancer. The tobacco corporations deliberately through bio-engineering increased the addictive properties of tobacco. Knowing that their products were cancer-causing, they aimed ad campaigns at teens, blacks, the poor and women. Chastened in the U.S., they changed their name to Altria and focused on developing countries where the cost of one person’s cigarette addition can bankrupt a family. Big Tobacco did $26 billion in sales last year. In the U.S., as Bloomberg snidely puts it, “It’s not smoking. It’s platform-agnostic nicotine delivery solutions.” From the tobacco giants’ perspective, they had “no choice”. Lung and throat cancers were after all prematurely killing off their older customers….
What kind of people think like that?
More importantly, what have Exxon and other globals who knew that fossil fuels were causing this change been doing during their 40 years of publicly denying reality?
>>Knowing that they’d lose their market when people caught on, fossil fuel globals rushed to gobble as much money as they could. They began exploding entire mountain ranges to get to the coal because that is quicker than mining, opened tar sand areas with gunky oil, and transport even that in leaking pipes and ships. Fracking for gas, they knowingly cause earthquakes in previously stable states and countries. Over these last 40 years, global corporations have in other words increased the pace of their extraction, transport, refining and sale of fossil fuels, doubling the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, greatly accelerating climate change.
>>Seeing water and food scarcities increasing because of the crisis their industries are worsening, globals have been scrambling to establish monopoly control of the world’s food, seeds, land and water. Nestle’s CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe explained that humans have no inherent right to water. Water in his view should be out in the hands of global corporations, and given “a market value”. No pay, no drink, no live. Although poisoned city water has permanently damaged the brains of children in Flint Michigan, Flint residents are forced to pay high prices for the poisoned water or have liens put on their homes, while Nestle is pumping billions of gallons from a pristine glacial aquifer near Flint, for only $200 a year in permitting fees. Nestle is bottling it in plastic, making a killer profit. Nestle has also been caught stealing water from California’s national forest. The United Nations and countries like United States are helping global corporations, especially global banks, take over water resources that have been in public hands for 2000 years.
Monsanto, with the same major stockholders as Exxon, is raiding countries, seizing seeds from the plants that people have grown for thousands of years, and patenting the seeds, as local governments hit subsistence farmers with heavy prison sentences if they even barter their own heirloom seeds, which purportedly now “belong to Monsanto. In developed countries like the United States, it’s buying up heirloom seed companies.
>>Globals’ multi-billionaire owners have been pushing for corporate government at world level. Through NAFTA’s Chapter 11 they have established global-corporate “tribunals” with the power to try any nation which in protecting its lands or people creates laws that cost an investor profit. As activists fight to stop them, globals through newer treaties — most recently the TPP, TPIP and TISA — are trying to bring all nations under the jurisdictions of such tribunals. According to Wikileaks, a global corporations have already “sued Germany for $3.7 billion for phasing out nuclear energy, British American Tobacco sued Australia for passing a law limiting cigarette advertising, a French company sued Egypt for raising the minimum wage.”
>>Exxon-led globals, especially the Koch oil refinery global, have socked an estimated billion dollars into “sowing doubt”, convincing people that the solid consensus of the world’s scientists (including secretly of course Exxon’s own scientists) is wrong. The atmosphere is increasingly unstable, yet for 40 years, the glbals have actively kept the main polluting countries — the U.S., China and India — from shifting to alternative energy use. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S greatly increased offshore oil drilling, in spite of the BP disaster in the Gulf. In the face of what is now worldwide action, including several U.S. states taking independent steps, as of this writing the fossil-fuel globals are still keeping the U.S. federal government under President Donald Trump from acting. Indeed, he has named the lawyer who defended BP after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
>>From the late 1970s, globals worked on all fronts to destroy the U.S. middle class, deliberately causing the 40-year decline of the U.S. economy— as you’ll see. The vast, politically powerful 1970s U.S. middle class was at the beginning in the way.
WHY THE 1970s MIDDLE CLASS WAS A THREAT
Back in 1977, the biggest threat to global corporate plans was the vast, prosperous middle class of the United States. Although people did not know that was happening in Earth’s atmosphere, let alone what was causing it or what the globals were planning on doing, environmental awareness was strong and growing. As importantly, whenever the U.S. middle class agreed, they could control the mightiest government on earth, which was more than a match for the globals.
Old growth forest had once covered the continent. By the 1900s, it had been logged, the animals all hunted down for fur and trophy markets. Even the deer were nearly extinct. The people pf the U.S. had therefore invented “public parks” setting aside vast portions of the most spectacular, earth-cooling, oxygen-producing mountains, valleys, coastlines and water as wildlife sanctuaries for everyone to respectfully enjoy. They had hand-planted trees on both sides of every city street.
Beginning in the 1950s, looking at their own behavior, people had cleaned up the seas of litter, forcing corporations to take down the billboards that were the biggest form of litter. In the 1970’s, even at the height of car culture , younger people were getting smaller cars, biking or rediscovering their feet.
The American Social Contract was in the 1970s an understanding only 20 years old yet so accepted that it was embedded in U.S. law and taught in high school. Big corporations like Exxon got access to free U.S. Navy protection on the seas, U.S. police protection, cutting edge infrastructures, with publicly-educated, highly-productive people to hire and the biggest consumer market on the planet to sell into. In return big corporations accepted four “stakeholders”: customers to whom they owed safe, quality products and services, employees to whom they owed good wages and safe working conditions, shareholders, to whom they owed good profits. and the towns and nations in which they did business, to which they owed the duties of a responsible neighbor, like cleaning up after themselves.
Citizens enforced this by forming labor unions and by leaning on government to lean on corporations — which the government did. Industrialized U.S. cities for example had stinking pea-soup air and rivers so full of chemicals that several had caught fire. From Left to Right, voters told their representatives to force big corporations to clean up their toxic wastes and to make vehicles less polluting.
With a prompt cooperation that would blow current citizens’ minds, the U.S. Congress and presidents from both parties responded by strengthening amendments to the Clean Air Act and taking action. Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 established the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] to monitor emissions, giving it the power to regulate major corporations. Then Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and came close to getting the United States off “foreign fuel dependence”….
Reducing fossil fuel dependence in 1977??Globals turned snarling and shoved the U.S. over a cliff…..
We have been falling for 40 years. In the 1970s United States, a single factory worker could support a family of six with full health insurance, have a house and two cars in the garage, take the family on two-weeks paid vacation a year and look forward to travelling on an old age pension after the kids were grown.
The difference between 1970 and 2015 is visually stark. Prosperity in 1970 was distributed across a broad middle class. Forty-five years later, in 2015, eight men, multi-billionaires, control as much wealth as 50% of humanity. Seven live in the United States. Wealth is sucked up toward those pinpoints. The center where our vast prosperous, politically powerful middle class once stood is nearly empty. Taxes have been shifted off of the big corporations and the wealthy onto the shrunken middle class. Through subsidies, untaxed globals drain off even that tax money, cutting off services to our people. Our engineering was a wonder of the world. Much city water is now unsafe to drink. Highways, roads and bridges crumble around us.
Almost 2/3 of U.S. families cannot — even in an emergency — get their hands on $500. Unknown numbers of us live in parked cars, public parks and streets. The leading cause of death in Americans under 50 is heroin overdose. Men in their fifties are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate. Sixteen times as many veterans of our endless wars kill themselves here at home as die overseas. Forty thousand of us die each year from simple lack of medical care because the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations decide whether we get any. Two million of us live in cages, the largest prison population in the world: two times that of China, which has three times as many people, and those prisons are owned by the global corporations.
Did the globals really do this to us? If so, then how exactly did they do it??
THE STAKES COULD NOT BE HIGHER is a series. Links will go active as I publish:
Part I: The Stakes Could Not Be Higher
Part II: Global Corporate Takeover at World Level: Why and How
Part VI: Practical Solutions from Centuries of Americans v Globals
Part VII: How Exactly Did They Cheat You? The Myriad Flavors of 2016 Fraud.
Part VIII: More than Money: How Global Corporations Control the U.S. Federal, State and Local Governments, where to hit.
Part VIII: A Far Better Tomorrow