Thursday, February 01, 2007
Exxon Sets Record on Annual Profits
hundreds of climate scientists and government officials from around the world have worked all week behind closed doors and frequently darkened windows in a united nations building in paris to summarize the factors behind global warming in a report to be released friday.
so how exactly is the collective world going to tackle the issue of global warming? you can have all the meetings you like, but someone’s actually got to do something, and soon.
here’s a crazy idea: one that can’t possibly work, of course… why not implement a special climate-change 5% tax on the net profits of all companies whose business is the extraction of fossil fuels? i’m speaking primarily of the coal, oil and gas industries.
i propose this as exxon reports a $39.5 billion annual profit, the largest annual profit ever for an american company, and yet surely, is anyone left in any doubt now, that the continued burning of fossil fuels directly affects all peoples living on this planet, and fragile ecosystems alike. the overwhelming scientific consensus agrees that the world’s largest consumer of energy (1/20th of the world’s population consumes ¼ of the world’s energy) cannot go on ignoring the mounting evidence that it is now a global problem.
exxon’s absolutely staggering profits (let me just explain how much money that really is: $39,500,000,000) – that’s $108 million dollars a day profit! , along with those of the rest of the oil and gas industry, will be enjoyed only by their respective executives and shareholders. the by-product of what they sell can now be demonstrated to be directly contributing to global warming. these companies and their shareholders are getting rich at the expense of everyone else. doesn’t this seem completely wrong?
they can all very easily afford to pay a 5% tax on their net profits. i think that leaves them with with 95% profit, doesn't it?...so they’re not going out of business, but look at the massive capital investment that alternative energy research projects would receive if this were to become reality.
undeniably, they can afford to pay. these corporations don’t own the planet, and yet why does it seem they do?...
anyone remember the exxon valdez oil spill? some ten years later:
‘To the naked eye, Prince William Sound may appear “normal.” But if you look beneath the surface, oil continues to contaminate beaches, national parks, and designated wilderness. In fact, the Office of Technology Assessment estimated beach cleanup and oil skinning only recovered 3-4% of the Exxon Valdez oil and studies by government scientists estimated that only 14% of the oil was removed during cleanup operations.
A decade later, the ecosystem still suffers. Substantial contamination of mussel beds persists and this remarkably unweathered oil is a continuing source of toxic hydrocarbons. Sea otters, river otters, Barrow’s goldeneyes, and harlequin ducks have showed evidence of continued hydrocarbon exposure in the past few years.
The depressed population of Pacific herring – a critical source of food for over 40 predators including seabirds, harbor seals and Steller sea lions – is having severe impacts up the food chain. Wildlife population declines continue for harbor seal, killer whales, harlequin ducks, common loon, pigeon guillemot, and pelagic, red-faced cormorant, and double-crested cormorants.
it’s everyone’s planet, not the oil and gas companies. i say if they want to get super rich digging it up, extracting fossil fuels buried deep beneath the surface so we can all burn it, well then let them, and make them pay for the consequences of their actions. in doing so, alternative energies receive massive capital investment, thereby driving new technologies. not only that, but the oil and gas companies themselves will be quick to jump on the bandwagon once they see a marketable product/technology that they can sell to industry. they still want want to make a lot of money out of selling energy, long after the fossil fuels have run out...
and after we’ve started with the ones that sell it, i say we quickly slap a progressive climate tax on the fossil fuels themselves. after all, we're the ones burning them, releasing all the CO2 into the atmosphere because we actually rather like having power for our homes, our cars, our computers, our big flat screen tv's, our sound systems, and our x-box's...that way, everyone is forced to change their individual usage habits, and let's be honest, people just don't change their habits unless they have a strong incentive to do so, or they have to. so you just have make them, and changing everyone's habits (yes, you ridiculous-looking escalade xlt & hummer owners) is exactly what it’s going to take to stop all the geography maps from having to be redrawn because there's now a lot more water, and a lot less land to look at (sorry polar bears...)
and the united states of america has an opportunity to step up and actually do something really good for a change, instead of kicking sand in the world's face, refusing to sign the kyoto treaty, silently proclaiming that their economy is the most important thing on the planet, wanting everyone else to put their house in order first, and not look like the arrogant, spoilt, uncaring bastard it does right now.
because otherwise, it's all just a load of hot air...