Don’t blame yourself for the climate crisis

Calling out people living in a modern industrial society as the culprits behind our warming planet is misguided.

People have never been more concerned about climate change than they are today according to public opinion polls. As concern continues to grow, so does the number of people who want to do something about it.

The problem is that the majority of people can only make the changes that need to happen if the world they live in can make those changes a reasonable option.

For instance, I am sure a lot more people would be willing to drive electric cars, but right now that is not possible because we need the systems in place to do it. We would need a heck of of a lot more rapid charging stations for instance.

I bet a lot of people would also like to buy their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power. But again, that desire can only be met if the world around us is compatible. Right now there just isn’t enough renewable power sources to meet the demand.

It’s inevitable I think that the world will catch up with people’s desires to solve the climate crisis, but the big “if” is whether it will be too late to make a difference. So it is the delay in the adoption of large scale change to a climate friendly world that will end up being the biggest problem, not the general public’s willingness to take action in their everyday lives.

If this is the case then it is the people and the organizations that are actively seeking to delay action on climate change that are the ones doing the real damage, and hopefully in the end they will ultimately be held accountable. Luckily, there is an ever growing body of well-documented research laying out these campaigns of climate delay and denial.

A few weeks ago best-selling author and investigative journalist Dick Russell released his new book Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Men Who Are Destroying Life on Earth and What It Means For Our Children.”

Horseman of the Apocalypse is an in-depth look into the destructive past of some of the most powerful individuals and corporations stalling action on climate change. Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that humans are to blame, the elite group of individuals profiled in Russell’s book have turned their backs on science in order to protect their own wealth and power.

Their greed has led to delay.

These “horsemen of the apocalypse” include fossil fuel titans like Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers use their wealth to buy influence in congress and fund climate denial campaigns across the country; Secretary of State and former CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson; Harold Hamm, the ‘father of fracking’; and Peabody Coal chief Greg Boyce.

Russel does not hold back any punches, writing that:

“It’s ecocide. Simple as that. Burning down our own house. And despite the sci-fi fantasies of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, there is no other planetary home for even the rich to fly to.”

Russell ties together how these energy moguls manipulated and confused the public through PR spin doctors like Richard Berman and propaganda campaigns run by nonprofit front groups, think tanks, and other research-for-hire organizations. Russell unearths the unrelenting flow of fossil fuel money to lobbyists and government decision makers, particularly within the Trump administration, which has tilted the scales in favor of corporate profits and against the wellbeing of all people.

Despite the intensity of the opening chapters, Russell’s book is surprisingly inspiring. He covers the shifting mind-set of the up and coming generation-- our future leaders.

Russell highlights what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein have called “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now” filed by twenty-one young plaintiffs, ranging in age from 8 to 19, with the help of the non-profit Our Children’s Trust.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the federal government for violating their fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by enabling the fossil fuel industry to continue destroying the earth’s atmosphere.

Russell writes about the offspring of some of the wealthiest fossil fuel families in the world and their dedication to changing the status quo in the energy arena. He covers the journey to fossil fuel divestment by the Rockefeller family, the environmental quest of the granddaughter of the man who pioneered fracking, and interviews the son of Richard Berman who has denounced his father.

As the world moves closer and closer to climate disaster, it’s more important than ever for the public to be informed about the individuals trying to monkeywrench environmental policy and the money behind their campaigns.

This book reminds us that the climate crisis is not the fault of society at large, but of a relatively small group of fossil fuel companies and their band of front groups and PR spin doctors who have made delay-to-act their most powerful ally in the blind pursuit of ever-growing wealth.

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