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Can Supertyphoons Convince the Kochs to Stop Opposing US Carbon Controls?

Extreme weather and the extremist billionaires who back it.
 
 
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President Obama has just sent my brother and his Marine unit back to the Philippines for another mission after another Supertyphoon. Haiyan was the strongest storm on record, and the second Supertyphoon our Asian ally has suffered in the last year, with worse ones anticipated as today's climate crisis accelerates.  

Thousands of people are dead, and Yeb Sano, the country’s lead negotiator at UN climate talks in Warsaw has started a hunger strike until “meaningful” action is agreed by all countries to cut carbon emissions.

As world attention shifts to the loss of life—and livelihoods—in the wake of Haiyan, let us also look to the two top funders of the opposition to US controls on carbon. 

U.S. carbon billionaires Charles and David Koch must act now to absorb the unjust burden their pro-carbon policy agenda is imposing on not only people who serve America but anyone who wants to live on our planet today, or for generations to come. 

How Koch Cash Kills 

The Kochs privately outspend all other oil companies—even Exxon—to block the urgent phase out of fossil fuels and to undermine the emerging clean energy economy. The Koch Brothers lead the way in campaign contributions, direct lobbying, skeptical science, and other areas to unduly influence carbon pollution policies.

As a disastrous drought hit America’s heartland in August of 2012, the Kochs’ own climate science skeptics concluded that humans’ carbon emissions were without doubt dangerously warming our Earth’s surface temperatures, but the two brothers funded ever more furiously an expanding political influence network, including almost a half billion dollars to turn the 2012 elections to seize the Senate and replace the President with a message of “economic freedom.” 

Sharing a combined net worth that has billowed upward from $80B to $92B in only the past ten months of 2013, the Kochs’ fossil fuel fortune gives them much more money than the world’s wealthiest man (Bill Gates has $72B) to spend on manipulating politics.

Their “Kochtopus” is aimed at attacking carbon regulations while advancing fossil fuels exploitation everywhere as part of an extremist “shrink government” narrative that is dividing conservatives across America. 
 
They see getting more Tea Party extremists elected in upcoming elections in 2014 and 2016 as an important way to increase their influence.
Who pays the price of more carbon pollution?  The most marginalized communities from extreme weather events and, increasingly, American military members and their families.  As lives are put on the line for any overseas mission, Americans must know they are serving a just cause, not the ideological agenda of extremist billionaires who profit from polluting our planet. 

Ending America’s Koch Problem 

With our ocean’s warming waters now whipping up ever stronger storms, too few Americans are aware that our actions are crucial to turning our world around, toward a path that bring humans back into balance with nature. 

To do that, it is not China and other emerging emitters who are blocking a deal, indeed they are doing much more than the US is doing to reduce greenhouse gases. 

In fact, it is Americans who must deliver their government to a global agreement under the UN. 

“So what needs to be done,” says my IFG Board Member, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous Igorot woman who is also on the Philippines’UN climate delegation in Warsaw, “is for the rich countries (Annex 1 - who have 17.3% of the worlds population but are responsible for 71.5% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions causing this problem) to come into the table and make higher commitments on cutting back on their emissions and also in terms of providing finance and technology to the ones suffering from the problem they caused.”

We can not only avoid a lot of suffering by the world’s poorest communities who bear the biggest burden from the costs of climate change, but America can also avoid adding any undue burden on its own military members and their families who are being forced to fight on the violent front lines of increasingly extreme weather.  We will also be leaving future generations a world they can live in.

Instead of sending the US military on more missions overseas, America must rapidly curb its own carbon use, and that means Wichita’s two Koch Brothers must stop blocking America’s urgent and ambitious actions to, in the wise words of Yeb Sano “stop this madness.”

Victor Menotti is the Executive Director of the International Forum on Globalization

 
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