Episode 8

Planet-warming gases, Exxon scientific paper and the Bintang supermarket

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The Angry Clean Energy Guy on the human race reaching the highest levels of planet-warming gases in our atmosphere in human history; on an Exxon scientific paper from 1982 accurately predicting we would be there in 2019; on how much cash, lungs and lives we are granting Big Oil free of charge to destroy the planet; and on the Bintang supermarket in Bali

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Episode Transcript:

Hi, I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assaad Razzouk. Welcome to Episode 8 of my podcast. I am so happy you’re here. Thank you. This week I will be ranting about where we are in terms of the damage that’s been caused by oil gas and coal, and let me give you a hint right now, the damage is beyond enormous. It’s now existential. I’m also going to be rant about how much we pay oil and gas companies to ensure they continue their planetary destruction, cheering them up to damage the planet some more, indeed as a society paying them trillions of dollars each year to go on and on and on. 

ATMOSPHERIC CO2 LEVELS

First, allow me to congratulate all of us members of the human race. Why? Because scientists have just announced that we’ve reached the highest levels of planet warming gases in our atmosphere since records began in a continuing unstoppable, relentless rise of our manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Why is that? Because us the human race, our bingeing on oil, gas and called while at the same time cutting forests as if there is no tomorrow. Actually, exactly on the premise, unsaid, that we don’t care about tomorrow. The historical number? That’s 415.26 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere. This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago. Humans and their ancestors have never known a world like this. So welcome to your new world! 

The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much co two was more than 3 million years ago, 3 million years ago when global sea levels were several meters higher and Antarctica was partly blanketed in forests.

So what does that tell you? That tells you that we are not on track in terms of protecting the climate at all. And that makes me so angry. The number keeps rising and it’s getting higher year after year. Let me put it differently. All of human history has been in a colder climate than now. 

You can think about this in very simple terms. Every time an engine fueled by oil, gas or coal runs, we emit CO2. Now that CO2 has to go somewhere. It doesn’t miraculously disappear, it stays in the atmosphere or it goes into our oceans to be released later into the atmosphere and when it does the global warming gas (alongside other global warming gasses that we send a lot alongside it like methane for example from oil and gas and from agriculture), so these global warming gasses prevent the earth’s natural cooling cycle from working. They basically trap the heat near the surface and they cause global temperatures to rise with devastating effects. Our CO2 and other greenhouse gasses  wild party has already led to a rise in global temperatures of one degree centigrade and we are 100% locked-in for a further rise. And the only question today is how much. Let me put this for you in perspective. In a world which is two degrees Celsius warmer, we’re going to have at least 25% more hot days, at least 25% more heatwaves, more wildfires, 40% of the population will be exposed to at least one severe heat wave every five years, droughts will go up in terms of their length by at least four months, adding 400 million people to those vulnerable to water scarcity and 200 million people to those currently vulnerable to droughts and of course, needless to say, flooding and extreme weather like cyclones and typhoons will increase.

We’ve seen that already this year in Africa and India. Wildfires will become more frequent. Crop yields will fall. Animal life would be devastated and on and on. Now that’s all at only two degrees warmer for earth as a whole, which we have pretty much locked in. (Keeping warming under two degrees has already become a hopeful, very hopeful target, an unlikely target to be reached). 

And forget about it if temperatures rise to three or four degrees because then we would enter a hothouse earth stage that would render, that would render many parts of the planet uninhabitable. Why? Because of warming and because of rising seas. Think about Dubai then think it’s gone. Think about Mumbai, then think it’s gone. Think about Jakarta, then think it’s gone. Think about New York City, then think it’s gone. That’s what warming earth by three or four degrees means.

Now all of this has been predicted for decades. We also know exactly what to do to stop it all. We need to stop it. And the solution, which is very simple, is to power the world with renewable energy and to reforest what we can. That is all we need to do and we’re running low on time to avoid the world that we literally don’t know how to handle. 

EXXON MOBIL

And you know what the best part is? This was all in an Exxon Mobil scientific paper from 1980, 39 years ago. Exxon predicted in that paper that this year, 2019 we’d be at around 415 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. They have known for almost 40 years. This was a beautiful 46 page Exxon report with a 10 page index of sources. This Exxon correspondence was unearthed by Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize winning media outlet, and it’s all public information.

I’d encourage you to find it and read it. It shows you how much Exxon has known, how long it has known for, and it shows you that their predictions were amazingly accurate. They even predicted that global warming would initially be almost indistinguishable from normal climate fluctuations, and that 1982 papers said that by 2020 (so next year) there could be no doubt that earth is warming because the old normal would be entirely left behind. Now, what did EXXON do next? I think you all know what they did. They went on to lie and deceive the public and block action for decades to protect their profits and an incredibly short-sighted view of the world. Exxon knew. Exxon did nothing. Exxon lied and Exon cheated.

 

FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES

So there’s a related topic that makes me really angry. It’s big actually. It’s huge. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it. I do hope that you are. It’s about how much we pay oil and gas companies worldwide today to continue destroying the planet. Let me explain. Governments around the world spent an enormous amount of money every year making it cheaper for fossil fuel companies to exhaust the planet. 

The International Monetary Fund, the IMF, released a paper just a few days ago with new estimates of how much governments around the world spend supporting the wealth of oil, gas, and coal companies. And do you know what the answer is? $5.2 trillion per year. 

So we give them $5.2 trillion a year in the full knowledge of the environmental destruction that they are causing. And that’s the conclusion reached by the International Monetary Fund. Now of course, as you might have guessed, that report received almost no media coverage and even where it did, it was forgotten within hours. Now that suits Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell oil, and the likes just fine. I might add. Yeah, let’s just forget about it. Let’s just keep giving them trillions of dollars a year. 

Imagine if the media properly raised a big fuss about this. Because for example, this is scandalous. This is a scandal and this must stop. Imagine if the public was told loudly that if governments had only accounted for these subsidies and priced oil, gas, and coal at their efficient and correct levels, then our emissions would have been 30% lower. We would cut death due to toxic air pollution by 50%. But no. Why should we do the right thing? 

Let me tell you what these fossil fuels subsidies –  there’s a name designed to put us all to sleep and bring us back to scroll to the royal baby stories – let me tell you what these fossil fuel subsidies are. They are a free grant off our cash, plus our lungs, plus our planet, plus our lives to assist an enterprise. So that would be oil, gas, and coal companies destroying the planet and our way of life. Great. So what you should know is that all of you, all of us have granted free use of our cash, of our lungs, of our planet and of our lives to Saudi Aramco and to EXXON for free – and that is worth $5.2 trillion a year of free wealth transfer each year according to the IMF. 

I thought I should make that clear. 

Now the IMF then releases estimates for each country almost of how much is going into the pockets of big oil and local oil oligarchs from these grants of our lungs and of our cash. In China, for example, that’s $1.4 trillion per year. In the US, $650 billion a year of wealth transfer. In Russia, $550 billion a year. In India, $200 billion a year and on and on. 

But before I leave the topic, I want to touch on the propagandist and the apologists for big oil.

You would not be surprised to know that they were out in force on social media after the IMF report was released, there are literally tens of thousands of them on Facebook, youtube, Twitter, linkedin. They’re everywhere and they have no shame. Their talking points evolved from “climate change, what climate change?” to the new version now, which is, “oh, you wouldn’t have Twitter without fossil fuels; you wouldn’t have your TV without fossil fuels.” They troll you, they comment in newspapers, they’re easy to find and they have no shame. Thank you very much apologists and trolls but I would rather have my Twitter powered by solar power if you would only allow it.

Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy this far.

My loser of the week is Exxon. Because Exxon has been lying and cheating and manipulating public opinion worldwide since at least 1982 and we have documentary proof of that. That’s 37 years ago. I don’t understand how these executives sleep at night. I am not taking away from fossil fuels how they changed the world for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, but it doesn’t have to be, it cannot be until death do us apart. We absolutely don’t need and can’t afford and can’t have any new oil and gas and we need to phase out what we have between now and 2050.  I would have thought that’s pretty straightforward. Shame on you EXXON. 

My winner of the week is the Bintan supermarket in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia because after it stopped providing single use plastic bags two months ago, the supermarket ditched plastic tape and plastic wrapping for vegetables and replaced them with banana leaves and bamboo straps which are abundant and otherwise would just be burned or thrown into the sea. This movement is growing across Southeast Asia and we need it. 

About those plastic bags and plastic wrapping by the way: We don’t need them, and all they do is they shift more money to oil producers because all plastic comes from oil. Did you know that 1 million plastic bottles are bought worldwide? Every single minute. 1 million bottles. These plastic bottles last 450 years when they make their way into the oceans, which they seem to quite often these days, and then a hundred thousand marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic each year because they can’t distinguish microplastics from food. And of course that microplastic then makes its way back into our food and our water. Enough, enough of single use plastic. We just need to ban it. Ecological and climate catastrophe means, among much other suffering, the erasure of humanity, past and future. That’s our past and our future. 

Thank you for listening and don’t hesitate to send my way, any questions you have or any suggestions about topics that make you angry in the green space. Have a great week.

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About Me

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.

Assaad Razzouk

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