Global warming is great news – for oil companies

The Stern warning that our frenetic burning of fossil fuels is unleashing Weather of Mass Destruction across the world has been slowly seeping into Britain’s mental atmosphere over the past week. On cue, the oil corporations have renewed their PR campaign to promote themselves as the solution rather than the petrol-scented problem. They have pumped out adverts that look like Greenpeace brochures, warning of “the threat to our world” and pledging to be “at the forefront of action against global warming.”
Behind this greenwashing there is a gloopy black reality. Shell is spending 0.06 percent of its global sales on renewable energies, less than a tenth of the sum it spends on finding new sources of fossil fuels that will warm the planet yet further. But beyond even the hard figures, there is a remarkable untold story unfolding in one of the darkest parts of the planet, showing that Big Oil is actually banking on runaway global warming. The Arctic is the world’s early-warning system, warming twice as rapidly as the rest of the world because of a swirl of climatological bad luck. In the past fifty years, half of the Arctic ice cap has simply melted away, and in the winter of 2004-5, an area the size of Turkey cracked up and fell into the sea. By the end of my lifetime, unless there is drastic political action, all the perennial sea ice in the Arctic will be gone and there will be a watery absence at the top of the world.
This is a disaster for the Inuit, who are having to abandon their continent. It is a disaster for humans in low-lying countries – from Bangladesh to the South pacific – who will be rendered environmental refugees by rising sea levels. But for the oil companies – in practice, if not in their press releases – it is a glorious moment. The US Geological Survey says that a quarter of all the remaining oil and gas in the world – cher-ching! – is lying beneath Arctic ice. The oil companies who publicly claim global warming causes them pain are now spending billions to scavenge through this melting land for profits.
The article is here
The Independent - 04/11/2006 Johann Hari

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