06 January, 2007

Evil People

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly-traded company, would rather we didn’t get all excited about climate change. If we do, it could be bad for business. We’d make our politicians pass laws to stop companies like Exxon polluting the world. And they wouldn’t like that. That’s why they’re spending millions on funding research groups to turn up evidence that will make it look like there is some possibility that burning petrol is not causing global warming. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on Wednesday accusing Exxon Mobil of spending millions of dollars to manipulate public opinion – and doing pretty well at it.

These are the same tactics that the tobacco companies have used for decades now. By getting scientists to publish papers casting doubt on such things as the damaging effects of passive smoking, the tobacco giants have managed to sow enough confusion in some minds to hold up life-saving legislation for many, many years. Now the big oil companies are doing the same thing. The fact that there are thousands, even millions of lives at stake in both cases doesn’t seem to bother the people who pursue these tactics. And their motivation? Greed. It’s hard to believe but they would distort the truth and kill millions, just for money and status.

Which makes the religious loonies who are funding anti-evolution research institutes seem almost harmless by comparison. Yes, these demented Christian fundamentalists are pushing ‘intelligent design’ as part of their broad anti-science offensive and, yes, the kind of ignorance they want to see the world plunged into would cause the death and suffering of many millions (consider their stance on stem-cell research if you don’t believe they don’t give a damn about human suffering) and, yes, their tactics are also borrowed from the tobacco companies and their attempts to produce obfuscating ‘research’ to show that nonsense ideas like ‘irreducible complexity’ are credible follows the same pattern that BAT and Exxon have been following – but at least the fundamentalists have the excuse that they’re insane. They’re not doing it for the money. They really believe there is a mystical being who wants them to harm the world like this.

Whether it’s money or madness that drives them, what these people are doing is wrong. It is bad. It is evil. Anyone involved in any way with these attempts to lie to the world should be ashamed of themselves and of the terrible thing they are doing.

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