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America's Most Dangerous Enemy

This danger lurks within our borders—a powerful network of organizations, which, while once vital to our country, now serves to weaken and ultimately ruin America.
 
 
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Photo Credit: AFP

 
 
 
 

This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

At this moment, America is threatened by the greatest danger we may ever face. This danger lurks within our borders—a powerful network of organizations, which, while once vital to our country, now serves to weaken and ultimately ruin America.

This network is directed by dangerous radicals, on a path to fundamentally upset the balance of our world. They have infiltrated our highest levels of government and business. Their plan, if carried through to fruition, will result in the deaths of millions of Americans, and the suffering of millions more. I am talking about the fossil fuel industry.

Though not always the case, today’s fossil fuel industry is fundamentally un-American and anti-America. In violation of the most basic American values, they have manipulated our people, subverted our democracy, undermined our economic and moral superiority, and are making us a global laughingstock. Moreover, they are killing our country and our planet, putting us on track for 4-6 degrees of global warming—something straight out of an apocalyptic disaster film.

They threaten our values and subvert our democracy

The fossil fuel industry spends staggering sums of money to deliberately mislead the American public and buy our democracy. In recent years, they have stepped up their attacks on climate science and action to new levels.

Every day, the fossil fuel industry spends $167,000 on lobbying, and millions yearly on campaign contributions. They spent $367 million on TV ads this past election alone. These lavish political expenditures ensure that politicians are more beholden to the fossil fuel industries than they are to We the People. Against the direct interest of America, they have set up a government largely of the fossil fuel industry, by the fossil fuel industry, and for the fossil fuel industry.

Taking a page from the playbook of big tobacco, they spend fortunes on propaganda and “anti-warming” studies to confuse the science, misleading Americans into doubt the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

Perhaps you saw the recent billboard campaign “I still believe in climate change—do you?” which compared those who accept climate science to criminals like Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden. This ad was run by the Heartland Institute—once paid by Phillip Morris to assure Americans that second-hand smoke is perfectly healthy. Today, they get paid by Exxon-Mobil.

They are going to bankrupt America

In a frighteningly ironic twist, a common talking point says that those who pursue climate action do so at the expense of our economy. The fossil fuel lobby has been very successful at painting their opponents as anti-progress and anti-business, imposing restricting regulations that hurt America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Green jobs are crucial for our economy and already some of the fastest-growing sectors within it. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry has a record of laying off workers despite profits, evicting homeowners, cutting corners, lying, and endangering Americans directly. Moreover, the climate change it causes is poised to permanently ruin our economy.

Science and the Pentagon have been warning us for years about the national security threat of climate change. Now, big business and Wall Street also urge action. Organizations from the World Bank to the International Energy Agency to PricewaterhouseCoopers affirm that if we don’t react quickly to climate change, we condemn ourselves to a future of devastating climate impacts and economic loss.

We’re already seeing the costs of climate change. Hurricane Sandy alone has an estimated price tag of $50-75 billion. Wildfires and droughts this summer could cost us 1% or more of our GDP. And this is just the beginning. Climate change is projected to cost 3% of global GDP by 2030—enough to put the economy in a permanent recession. And what of the value of human life? By that date, it is expected to cause over 16, 000 deaths per day.

Let’s talk about welfare. Each year, the fossil fuel industry receives billions of dollars in subsidies from Congress. This is despite the fact that the fossil fuel industry is the richest industry in the history of the world, despite the fact that their profits come at our expense, and despite the fact that the “service” they provide is one that promises to end life on Earth as we know it.

Who foots the bill for these subsidies? We, the American taxpayers. We are literally paying this industry to kill us, and to ensure that our children and grandchildren will grow up in a world ravaged by the impacts of runaway climate change.
 

 
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