Imagine if we found out exactly who was systematically destroying the habitability of Earth? If we had their names and addresses? Wouldn't a responsible society make them stop the destruction?
Climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado has done a study which found that just 90 companies — among them Chevron, Exxon, BHP, Rio Tinto and BP — have been responsible for producing two-thirds of all global warming-causing emissions.
These 90 companies have released a total of 914 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent, according to Heede's analysis of historic production records dating from 1854 to 2010. Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years.
In releasing the report, Heede noted that although there are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world, “the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.”
As yet society has not been able to stop the destructive behaviour of these very powerful people, let alone bring them to account.
Even while bodies continue to be found in the rubble in the Philippines after climate-change enhanced Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, another climate summit was collapsing in Warsaw, Poland.
The representatives of the world's poorest countries, together with environmentalists, walked out of the summit in the face of the governments of the richest countries’ refusal to keep to even modest targets set in the previous Copenhagen climate summit and to make funds available to mitigate the effects of global warming on the poorest countries.
It is unconscionable.
It also reveals very clearly that human survival now rests on whether the concentration of wealth and power can be taken out of the hands of a few.
The world has become a very twisted place. The latest Suisse Credit report on wealth distribution says the world's richest 1% own 41% of all wealth, the top 10% own 86% while the bottom half own just 1%. And the richest effectively control far more than the wealth they own.
Two coachloads of rich and powerful people are dictating the future of the world, and not for the common good. If we don't break their power, these will be the people who ran the 90 companies that ate the planet.
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