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Make Them Pay/Make Them Stop

Unrepresentative Policy of the Week:Americans Blame Fossil Fuel Companies for the Climate Crisis

For the past several weeks, we have covered the progress, or lack thereof of the Democrats passing Biden's "build back better" infrastructure plan. After publicly slashing popular provisions, and generally looking incompetent, the Democrats still have failed to get corrupt corporate shills like Manchin and Sinema to play ball. The whole process has been enough to sap any belief and enthusiasm in government still remaining with the American people.

We could continue to dwell on this never-ending disaster the Democrats have dubbed "negotiating," but with nothing new to add, we will instead turn our attention across the Atlantic to Glasgow and COP26, which may somehow turn out to be an even more disappointing failure of negotiation.

The world is currently on track for > 2.7C warming by 2100 even if all nations meet their emission reduction targets, which for the most part, they haven’t. Lack of any enforcement mechanisms from previous climate conferences have rendered the various climate pledges made by the nations of the world toothless, and the CO2 levels continue to rise unabated.

Why have all these massive international conferences failed to yield any meaningful change, despite the harrowing speeches and pretty promises of world leaders? There is surely no single reason for such a complex problem, but if we look at who benefits from inaction, it becomes clear that a major part of the problem is the same capture and corruption of government by corporate rule. At DSOT, we aren’t alone in thinking this either:

How responsible are oil and gas companies for climate change?

Mostly/Completely Responsible: 60%

Oil and gas companies should help pay ...

To upgrade the infrastructure so it can withstand the extreme weather events caused by climate change: 60%

The damages caused by extreme weather events attributed to climate change: 57%

If a product is harmful to the environment the company should

Stop selling the product: 60%

The attitudes of Americans, let alone the rest of the world, make it clear that people are waking up to who bears responsibility for the looming environmental catastrophe, and they want those who got rich off the destruction of our planet to pay the cost for once! This is an extremely encouraging sign, especially when combined with the relatively robust investments to combat the climate crisis still present in the build back better plan.

Or at least it would be encouraging if not for the utter lack of linkage between popularity of legislation and it getting passed, and even more importantly, the relentless timeline the climate crisis imposes. The biggest problem, is not that the people aren’t waking up, but that past experience shows the voluntary changes leaders are willing to impose on fossil fuel giants is completely out of sync with the desires of the people, and the scientific reality of this moment in history.

To get the change we need, at the pace we need it, and especially to get those responsible paying for it, it’s going to take massive, sustained economic organizing. The power wielded by these corporations is currently enough to send lawyers like Steven Donziger to jail, just for winning court cases against them. Against such overwhelming and embedded political power, we need an economic cudgel, which can stand up to the monied interests and make them not just pay their fair share, but stop the destruction of our planet. So join us each Tuesday!

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