Over $500 Million Spent For Climate Denial Campaign

Bill McKibben just linked at Twitter to this speech by Senator Whitehouse on climate change denial.

The speech compares the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to deny and delay with similar efforts earlier by tobacco companies.

I learn from that speech that fossil fuel interests have spent more than $500 million for their campaign over the years. I also learn that there has been a RICO lawsuit against tobacco companies for their deception campaign.

Obviously, if Phaseout Profit Theory is correct, those $500 million of fossil fuel funds would go into efforts to speed up climate motivated legislation requiring the fossil fuel industry to sell less (and profit more by selling less).

But I also want to discuss the tobacco industry comparison.

The usual idea is that the situation of the tobacco companies is exactly like that of the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, Bill McKibben and Senator Whitehouse think that the fossil fuel companies’ interest must be to oppose climate motivated regulation.

But there are some differences.

For one, fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource. Once you burn a barrel of oil, it’s gone. In contrast, once you burn a cigarette, you can still grow tobacco to make another one.

There will be  a moment, eventually, where the fossil fuel is gone. I recall that humanity is burning fossil fuel at more than 5 million times the speed it is generated.

The more of the oil is gone, the higher the price will go for what is left. That’s good news for oil companies. They should like higher prices.

And if some regulation says that 80 percent of the oil needs to stay in the ground (or be sold as raw material for the chemical industry), that means that most of the oil will be treated as already gone, which will increase prices accordingly.

Another difference is that with tobacco, the inconvenient consequences of an early death mostly hit smokers. In contrast, the unfortunate consequences of climate change hit everyone. That makes the $500 million climate denial campaign an even more serious matter than the tobacco case.

If, as Senator Whitehouse explains, the tobacco industry was hit with a RICO lawsuit, where is the RICO lawsuit against the fossil fuel industry?

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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