We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Smoke & Fumes

Click here to access article from Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

This is a major contribution to an understanding of the insidious role played by the fossil fuel industry starting in 1946 to suppress information about the threat their industry posed for a stable climate. The report is based on solid research which is well documented.
In late 1946, as public concern and media scrutiny mounted, executives from the Western Oil and Gas Association met in Los Angeles to consider a response. They emerged with a plan—and a Committee. Comprised of executives from leading oil companies (including Union Oil, Standard Oil of California (both now part of Chevron), Esso (now ExxonMobil), and Shell), the newly-created Smoke and Fumes Committee would fund scientific research into smog and other air pollution issues and, significantly, use that research to inform and shape public opinion about environmental issues. The express goal of their collaboration was to use science and public skepticism to prevent environmental regulations they deemed hasty, costly, and unnecessary.
The following 3:51m video provides an excellent introduction to the report which is concise and very readable.

This is a story about how the world’s most powerful industry used science, communications, and consumer psychology to shape the public debate over climate change. And it begins earlier—decades earlier—than anyone suspected.
The essential lesson to be learned from this report is that when an economic system is established to serve the profit interests of its private owners, profits will always trump the interests of the public, indeed as this report illustrates, even the very survival of humans. It must be understood that the accumulation of wealth and the control of jobs provides people known as capitalists with tremendous power over us and our society. The greater the concentration of wealth in this tiny segment of the population, the greater the power they exert over every institution of our society. This drug of power is extremely addictive, and over several centuries has created a monster capitalist class and a world Empire that threatens to kill us all if we allow it to continue. 

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