Dead whale, plastic dump and Big Oil companies
Dead whale filled with plastic / Vince Cinches
Hi and welcome to The Angry Clean Energy Guy podcast with me, Assaad Razzouk.
This is my very first weekly podcast and I am so happy you’re here. Thank you.
I have to say there is so much to be angry about if you are a clean energy guy. So many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us and I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying – but we’re not as a civilization, as a collective, as a society. We’re not. In fact we’re doing the opposite because the climate chaos is getting worse. So each week I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar power, wind power, plastic pollution, the oceans, and other related topics as well as some of the hypocrisy I see coming from the really bad actors in my world, which not surprisingly are mostly big corporations.
THE DEAD WHALE WITH 40 KG OF PLASTIC IN THE BELLY
Over the past few days, I was really angry to see that a dead whale washed up in the Philippines with, wait for it, 40 kilos of plastic in its belly. This poor whale died of dehydration and starvation after eating 88 pounds, or 40 kilos of plastic, rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags, and general plastic bags.
Now that’s unimaginable. Incredible. Clearly we have to stop treating oceans as dumpsters.
We’re currently producing each year plastic equal to the total weight of 5 billion of us, 5 billion people. Can you even imagine that kind of volume? I mean, I can’t, and here’s an even more incredible number. Since we invented plastic, we’ve produced the equivalent of the weight of 100 billion people. That’s right. 100 billion people and we’ve done that completely irresponsibly. We’ve recycled less than 7% of the plastic we’ve ever produced and we’ve dumped into the oceans 5% of that at a minimum. That’s equivalent to dumping into the oceans the weight of 5 billion people. How crazy is that? Dumped into the oceans and yes, most of that today comes from Asia. 70% to be exact. 70% of the plastic we dump into the oceans is dumped in Asia.
But do you know what else? Pretty much all of the TV press and social media coverage I’ve seen blames us, the consumer and the Filipinos in the case of this poor whale for this tragedy, but the truth, the truth is very, very different.
The plastic epidemic is fundamentally due to the fact that oil, the principal raw material in plastic, is not priced correctly and therefore plastic is not priced correctly. And the reason oil is cheap and plastic is cheap is because its impact on the environment is not in its price. In other words, all companies who are making money from selling us all this plastic we don’t need, aren’t paying for the damage their product is causing. We are actually subsidizing them to give us free plastic and then more free plastic which then finds its way into the oceans because it’s not regulated properly.
It’s not captured properly and governments also aren’t doing their job. The oceans are paying, the rivers are paying, the waterways are paying – and we are paying with our health. All this plastic means hardly any drinking water we consume today around the world is free of microplastics and so much of the food we eat is contaminated with microplastics but you aren’t going to see that mentioned in any of the media coverage about this poor whale.
Well, so oil companies are burying us with plastic because they are basically dumping it on us free and making money out of that. If oil companies paid for the environmental impacts their products cause, plastic would be a lot more expensive and guess what would happen then? Supermarkets would stop giving out plastic bags that most of us, ashamed as we are of taking them, can’t say no to when we have a baby with us, three other bags and are frenetically working our phones because it’s raining and we can’t find a taxi.
Wrecking the planet is the business model of Big Oil and governments have to step in to make plastic more expensive by simply pricing its environmental impact so that oil companies pay for it.
Cyclone Idai also makes my blood boil.
Cyclone Idai tore through southern Africa recently. It was historic and we knew that it was historic after it hit Malawi and before it arrived in Mozambique and in Zimbabwe. At least 700 people across these three countries are dead and this is going up because 1.7 million people have been affected in these three countries with no electricity, no running water and homes that have been swept away, roads destroyed and bridges gone because of floods.
110,000 are in camps across devastated areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
They’re all bracing for the next tragedy, which is the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera and malaria.
Now, climate chaos is everywhere, but this story is different. It was ignored for days. I tweeted it on 15 march, but of course because it’s Africa and affecting the poorest of the poor, it simply wasn’t good enough for clickbaiting for most media worldwide. They waited until they could headline numbers like 1,000 dead, which took those that bothered to report the story a few days at least. Meanwhile, aid took too long to get there and we basically left 1.7 million Africans to fend for themselves.
There is no question in my mind that climate change has not been robustly tackled for the more than 30 years. We’ve known about its civilization-ending potential because it will overwhelmingly affect the poor. Have you ever wondered why people who still deny or even willfully ignore climate change are overwhelmingly white and western? I have. I’ve wondered so often. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that they find climate change convenient. Why? It will destroy weaker economies, kill people they don’t care about, or they think they can spend their way out of the problem in the future while making as much short term money as possible right now. And what we need to do is we need to call out people that deny or ignore climate change for what they are and stop pretending that their empty words are newsworthy. Actually, we need to completely stop reporting their nonsense.
BANKS AND BIG OIL WORKING IN TANDEM TO EFFECT PLANETARY DESTRUCTION
And that brings me to my next and final rant of the week. The bad actors. Two stories made me particularly angry in that category. The first one is that global banks poured almost $2 trillion into financing oil, gas, and coal since the Paris climate agreement was adopted in 2015.
The Paris climate agreement was of course about limiting warming to a maximum of 2 degrees and ideally one and a half degrees centigrade through controlling what we are doing with fossil fuels. But no, the banks went in the opposite direction despite talking about how much they cared about climate change and poured a lot more money into oil, gas, and coal, the same global banks that hypocritically claim they are committed to fighting climate change.
The second related story is that during the same period, so from 2015 and again despite announcements about how much they were committed to fighting climate change, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP, and Total spent $200 million a year on lobbying to expand fossil fuel operations. So you’ve got the banks pouring out a lot more money to basically destroy the climate and you’ve got the big oil companies oiling the wheels through lobbying efforts worldwide to make sure governments do not stand in their way. Wonderful.
Now of the banks, the four biggest actors are all US banks: JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America.
JP Morgan Chase is by far the worst anti-civilization banker. It’s given almost $200 billion in finance for fossil fuels since 2016, a shocking 30% higher than the next bad actor, Europe’s Barclays, the top European banker of fracking.
In Japan. MUFG did what it could also to destroy the environment, the planet and our health, funding 80 billion in fossil fuels overall.
Over in Canada, RBC, the top banker of the entirely destructive tar sands oil leads, supported fossil fuels with $100 billion.
The Chinese are also doing their bit with the world’s top banker of coal power, Bank of China, qualifying as China’s worst banker of fossil fuels.
The oil companies support all that financing through lobbying and benefit from it because they get most of that money. But what’s the result between the banks and the oil companies? What you have is an insult to logic, an insult to science, an insult to humanity, all driven by people trying to maximize their short term, take home, pay – with the consequences of their behavior, which is nothing less than pushing civilization to the limit, splendidly ignored. Why? They’re all trying to get paid in December and they just don’t care. They just pretend.
Now as a clean energy private sector guy, I am not a fan of regulation, certainly not over-regulation, but here what we must do is make the money going into supporting fossil fuels much more expensive while forcing through a reform of the pay of all these bankers and oil companies whereby for example, directors of all these beautiful banks and oil companies are held accountable for the climate destruction they are responsible for.
VILLAIN OF THE WEEK
Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy, this far.
My Villain of the Week is JP Morgan Chase for it’s reckless behavior.
References to the stories I shared will be in the show notes just as soon as I figure out how to do that. My apologies. It might take me a few days. Meanwhile, I encourage you to send in questions about clean energy, climate change or whatever you like.
Thank you for listening and have a great week.
There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.
Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.
Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.