On Oct. 11, Swedish climate canary Greta Thunberg was ordered to pay two fines for her refusal  to abandon a July climate protest.

          Wearing a “Stand Up for Science” t-shirt, Thunberg spoke to the system stacked against those who would keep Earth habitable: “This shows precisely the flaws in our system. Those who try to defend people, the planet and life are the ones who face these kinds of legal consequences.”

          Young people lack the entrenched power of the big polluters, who keep lying about the damage they have known to be causing for more than 50 years. They have co-conspirators.

          In September, Greta Sigríður Einarsdóttir of Iceland’s RUV reported how European banks, while pledging to reduce funding to fossil fuel projects as part of the 2016 Paris accords, “the banks are still profiting from polluting projects, without mentioning it in their environmental and sustainability reports. The backdoor way is in bond offerings.”

          This info dovetails with an investigation by Corporate Accountability and The Guardian that nearly 80% of the carbon offset programs endorsed by industry and their government lackeys can be categorized as “likely junk or worthless.”

          Banks still funding pollution and governments looking the other way. Standard Operating Procedure. More evidence has surfaced about Exxon’s foreknowledge (and subsequent lying)  about the dangers their fossil fuels posed. And, new evidence shows that Italy’s ENI, another multinational oil giant was also aware of the dangers in 1970.

           Future generations did pick up a victory in August when a Montana judge agreed with 16 young people that, “the state violated their constitutional rights by promoting fossil fuel extraction,” according to Common Dreams’ Julia Conley. She reported:

          “In Held v. State of Montana, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley ruled that rights of the plaintiffs—who range in age from 5 to 22— have been violated by the Montana Environmental Policy Act because the law has prevented the state from assessing the climate impacts of mining projects.

          “Fossil fuel emissions including Montana’s ‘have been proven to be a substantial factor’ in heating the planet and causing pollution,” Seeley said in the nation’s first ruling on a constitutional, youth-led lawsuit regarding the climate.

          “Because the Montana Constitution guarantees residents a ‘clean and healthful environment,’ the state’s environmental policy law violates the document, said Seeley.”

          Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister, whose country was ravaged by global warming-enhanced wildfires this summer,  sees the temperature rise as a boon to Greek beaches, including, I guess, those where tourists were fleeing for their lives to escape the fires.

          British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reversed previous climate mitigation goals. Fatima Al-Kassab of National Public Radio reported, “Sunak insisted he was not slowing down efforts to combat climate change. But his government’s own climate adviser called the prime minister’s assertion that the U.K. would still succeed in meeting its 2050 net-zero target ‘wishful thinking.’”

          But such reactionaries might be forced to take meaningful action. Six Portuguese youngsters have filed a suit similar to the one in Montana. This one, at the European Human Rights Court, says 33 European countries have violated their citizens’ human rights due to their failure to address global warming.

          If the suit succeeds, it “would act like a binding treaty imposed by the court on the respondents, requiring them to rapidly accelerate their climate mitigation efforts,” Gerry Liston of the U.K.-based Global Legal Action Network told the Associated Press.

          “In legal terms, it would be a game-changer,” Liston said.

          Not changing its game, ExxonMobil recently announced the $59.5 billion purchase of Pioneer Natural Resources, one of this country’s leading fracking companies.

          Saguaro cacti in the Sonoran Desert are succumbing to the heat and drought. Napa Valley wine production and hop crops essential for beer are experiencing reduced yields. And, oh yeah, the State of the World’s Plant and Fungi 2023 report says 45% of flowering plants are in danger of extinction.

          And, it could get worse.

          Reporting for Common Dreams, an excellent source of environmental information, Olivia Rosane  assessed the Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project:

          “Close down the Department of Energy’s renewable energy office. Cut cash flow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of environmental justice. Stop the nation’s electrical grid from expanding to include wind and solar. These are all items on a right-wing think tank’s to-do list for the next Republican presidency.”

          I hesitate to give these greedheads points for honesty. But, coming right out and saying the destruction of life on Earth is irrelevant to corporate profits is preferable to the lies and hedging of industry and government.

          Former Vice President Al Gore called out polluters and their enablers at a Climate Forward event sponsored by the New York Times in September.

          He said that he had formerly trusted that the fossil fuel industry,” or at least many of them, were sincere in saying that they wanted to be a meaningful part of bringing solutions to this crisis.”

          But, “It is a ruse. And many of the largest companies have engaged in massive fraud. For some decades now, they’ve followed the playbook of the tobacco industry, using these very sophisticated, lavishly-financed strategies for deceiving people.”

          He said their profit-models work against what is best for the world. “I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to solve this when they’re incentivized to do otherwise. But I think it’s more than fair to ask them to get out of the way, and stop blocking the efforts of everybody else to solve this crisis.”

          Most animals put a premium on the survival of their progeny. And humans are the apex species?

           (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Polluters profit; the future suffers

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