Before we begin, let me just say this isn’t some greedy ploy on my part to avoid donating to hurricane relief funds. Not to brag, but I made well over 40,000 dollars last year. (I made 40,030 dollars last year). So, obviously, I have money to throw at this.
But you know who else has money to throw around? The fossil fuel industry.
They’ve been making billions for decades now. And yet, every time the bill arrives for one of these storms they conveniently disappear. They want us to believe they’ve gone to the bathroom; that it’s some freak case of post-dinner diarrhea. But it’s time to start calling this behavior what it is. Just a bunch of people who are full of shit.
A few fun facts about the fossil fuel industry:
- In 2014, fossil fuel companies in the U.S. and Canada made $257 billion in profits.
- That same year, U.S. Taxpayers paid the fossil fuel industry ~$21 billion in subsidies.
- The fossil fuel industry is scheduled to receive another $37.7 billion in tax breaks between now and 2026.
- From 2008-2013, the top 20 oil and gas companies paid a federal income tax rate of 20%. (A rate that drops to 11.7% when you include their deferred payments – i.e. – a better tax rate than every American making over $12,000/year.)
- In 2016, the top 5 executives at Exxon Mobil Corp. made a combined $78.6 million dollars. (And that’s just what we know about.)
The big takeaway? You have an ultra-rich class of elites who have known about the effects of climate change since the late 70’s/early 80’s, and chose greed over what is good. They chose making money even if it meant killing our planet and endangering every person on it. And the worst part is, every year they get rewarded for that decision instead of penalized or punished for it.
Hurricane Harvey hit the shores of Houston, Texas and the state’s Governor estimates it could cost taxpayers around $180 billion to repair the damage. In that same city and state, Exxon Mobil got billions in tax breaks and benefits to build a 3 million square-foot campus.
You see where I’m going with this?
There is an industry that takes our money so it can actively destroy us. And offers nothing in return when the consequences of those actions finally hit home.
It seems like we should be a little more pissed about this reality.
But turn on the coverage of these storms and you’d have no idea it was a reality at all.
Granted, the media’s coverage of climate change and its causes has always been a joke. But as we stand on this dangerous precipice, their refusal to talk about the actual problem is careening toward insanity. It would be like covering another suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert by reporting on her mediocre setlist.
*Anderson Cooper watches images of people evacuating an arena in terror*
“Shocking news tonight as Ariana Grande chose not to play ‘Side to Side’ featuring Nicki Minaj. There’s… still no word on how this might affect any future collabs .”
*He weeps quietly on camera*
For the average viewer who tuned into the coverage of Hurricane Irma this weekend, they were left uninformed about the intensifying effect that a warming planet is having on these storms. In fact, during television coverage of Hurricane Irma on Sunday, the phrase “climate change” was only mentioned once.
Now that’s a hoax.
So is the fact that a bunch of Texas politicians will ask the rest of the country for help after doing everything in their power to create this problem.
So is the fact that FEMA is not well-funded enough to handle the mass evacuation of a major city.
So is the fact that poor people who don’t have a car or the resources to leave town are essentially told to fuck off and die.
So is the fact that those with boats are left with the task of saving their own neighbors.
And so is the fact that Exxon Mobil – a company worth half a trillion dollars – can get away with donating a piddling $1 million dollars to Hurricane Harvey relief.
That’s 30x less than what JJ Watt raised using fucking Twitter.
When a company like Exxon Mobil is sure to reap more rewards from FEMA’s recovery than any single community in Houston, I think it’s bullshit to ask something of the average American and absolutely nothing of them.
I think it’s bullshit to report on the people of Texas and Florida without actually helping them.
I’m all for covering every brave person who gave their money, their effort, and/or their life to save others during Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Their stories need to be told. They’re inspiring as hell and we need some of that right now. But you can’t just do that. At a certain point, refusing to dissect the root of the problem (or ignoring it all together) is doing a disservice to all the heroic people you claim to admire.
You want to honor these people? How about living up their standards? How about serving the public in a way that actually does them justice?
Last time I checked, that was your core function.
Anything else is just immoral and dumb. You don’t get to revel in the spectacle of these natural disasters without being honest about the forces responsible. If you do, you’re making about as much of a difference as the people in Florida who thought they could stop the hurricane by shooting at it.
It means you’re right there on the beach with some guy from Fort Lauderdale; firing an AK-47 into really fast wind.
And is that really who you want to stand by during the storm?