Big oil is the new big tobacco - and Congress must use its power to investigate | Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran
Wildfires there have been raging for more than a month and now span an area larger than Switzerland. The situation bears all the hallmarks of a hot new world: lives lost, livelihoods ruined and species pushed towards extinction, accompanied by government inaction, industry PR spin, abetting rightwing echo chambers, and taxpayers footing the multibillion-dollar bill.
Insanely, the Australian government remains in denial – ignoring the science, downplaying the seriousness and subservient to coal. The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, is busy greenwashing and gaslighting: Chevron is boasting about its $1m donation – 0.00667% of its annual earnings – to the Australian Red Cross, and Exxon Australia just wants everyone to “Stay safe and have fun”. All this is set to a backdrop of mutually reinforcing rightwing new outlets, online bots and trolls, which are distracting and misinforming the public about the science and politics of climate-catalyzed fires.
The charity of everyday people (and some celebrities) rising to meet the disaster has been inspiring and essential. Yet, tragically, it also unintentionally serves to reinforce the false narrative, perpetuated by fossil fuel propagandists, that we are all equally to blame.