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“What’s the point of saving the planet if humanity suffers?” – Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO at May 2013 shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Has there ever been a clearer message of the carbon industry’s intent? They mean to go full steam ahead at plundering the carbon that nature has safely sequestered, so that we can pump the atmosphere full of carbon at ever increasing rates. That, despite dire warnings from scientists that anything over an average increase of 2 degrees Celsius in global temperatures would be disastrous, that we can only emit 565 more gigatons of CO2 in order to do this, that the industry has 2,795 gigatons in reserves, and that the industry is spending millions every day looking for more.

Tillerson and his grey-haired cohorts plan to live out their lives in luxury, with no concern for the guaranteed suffering that they are inflicting on all those that come after them, not to mention the countless people who are already struggling with the impacts of the carbon industry, from the residents of Mayflower, Arkansas whose land and waterways were contaminated from a burst dilbit pipeline, to the countless people whose water supply has been contaminated with methane gas and cancer-causing benzene from fracking, to the Athabasca Chipewyan people downstream from the oil sands who have high rates of rare cancers. The list of people who have already suffered from the impacts of the carbon industry is extensive.

The only reason why the production of unconventional oil and gas is profitable is because the industry, in cooperation with governments the world over, is able to offload most of the detrimental costs to human and ecological health onto the public.

Money and status are what counts when it comes to having a voice. A rich CEO pushing a selfish agenda arguably has more credibility with the general public, and certainly with government, than a scientist or an activist who are motivated by the pursuit of truth, integrity or concern. And the scientists that deny climate change? It has just come to light that 9 out of 10 of the most prolific ones have a financial connection to ExxonMobil (Source: Carbon Brief).

Sooner or later we will have to face the challenges of our time. In the meantime, we would do well to develop skepticism of what the climate change skeptics have to say. Scratch the surface and I suspect you’ll find greedy self-interest.

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