Just 90 companies are to blame for most climate change

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    Geographer Richard Heede has compiled a massive database quantifying who has been responsible for taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere. Working alone, with uncertain funding, he spent years piecing together the annual production of every major fossil fuel company since the Industrial Revolution and converting it to carbon emissions.
    His research shows that nearly two-thirds of anthropogenic carbon emissions originated in just 90 companies and government-run industries. Among them, the top eight companies -- ranked according to annual and cumulative emissions below -- account for 20 percent of world carbon emissions from fossil fuels and cement production since the Industrial Revolution.
    The study provoked controversy when it was published in 2013, with some complaining that it unfairly held the fossil fuel industry responsible for the lifestyle choices made by billions of consumers.
    Others, however, saw the study as a turning point in the debate about apportioning responsibility for climate change. With traditional environmental issues, such as river pollution or toxic waste, it has always been possible to identify perpetrators who could be targeted for regulation or enforcement.Heede's carbon accounting is already opening a new chapter in climate change litigation and policy, helping equip plaintiffs who believe they have suffered damages from climate change to claim compensation.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016...me-most-climate-change-carbon-accountant-says
     
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I can't believe how effing stupid this is. The whole of society is responsible for getting carbon out of the ground, obviously. The notion that we can conveniently park all the blame for the consequences of our luxurious lifestyle on the fossil fuel extraction industry is totally cretinous and breathtakingly hypocritical. You could equally blame James Watt, Henry Ford and the Wright brothers.
     
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    I was going to craft a reply, but I see now that it isn't necessary.

    [edit] You know what, on second thought, I think I will:
    I wonder who they rank as most to blame? The extraction company, the company that uses it to make power (or go) or the consumer who buys the power (or go)? Or do they triple-count the same energy?

    You know what, on third thought, this is so effing stupid that I really don't care what they were thinking.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    If we drop the idea of blaming, and instead view this as an identification of where curbs and taxation and so forth would have the most effect with the least hassle, it's a useful analysis.
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Not sure about that. If one applies taxation (e.g. a carbon tax) or other incentives/disincentives, one obviously has to apply them equitably across a whole industry. Picking individual organisations out is neither a legal nor a sensible way to go on, as it would merely stimulate the development of those players who were not singled out, at the expense of those that were.

    However, I would agree it certainly indicates who governments might seek to engage, in developing control policies - and who they might expect to get pressure from.
     
  9. Goliathus Registered Member

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    Every one in here should more focus on where they can make the differance. You cant change these 90 companies but you can effect the enviroment for the better by leading by an example. Basically just changing the diet will improve the enviroment a lot.
     
  10. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    Are we really to blame for buying a defective product?
     
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    An example of silly question-begging.
     
  12. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    It's not silly, existing infrastructure, pushed on us by moneyed oil interests and the automobile industry, really removed the choice on our part. Let's bankrupt the 90 companies and then reinvest in something better.
     
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Infrastructure is pulled as well as pushed. People have enthusiastically bought cars with internal combustion engines for about a century now. The contribution of the internal combustion engine to the development of modern society has been incalculable. These engines have always been designed for liquid fossil fuel, for obvious reasons of power/weight ratio and convenience. It is only gradually, over the last 20-30 years, that the climate change issue has crept up on the world, by which time the infrastructure and design had become fully global and firmly embedded. 20-20 hindsight is cheap but not specially illuminating.

    If you really think you can get a judge to find that all modern cars and fossil-based fuels are "defective" products, good luck to you. This is simply not a productive approach - except in the sense of salving the consciences of a few sanctimonious car-owning hypocrites, I suppose.

    The world (apart from the new Trumpton USA) does now see the problem and there is considerable technical and commercial progress towards alternatives, aided at last by global agreements and the prospect of legislation. All the European oil companies are up for this. My own ex-employer regularly lobbied for a carbon tax and has spent millions developing carbon capture and storage technology (only to have the short-sighted British government renege on an earlier promise to trial it at a large UK power station). But you cannot expect a commercial company to commit suicide by burdening itself with costs it cannot recover in the marketplace. That is why you need taxes and legislation - to make a level playing field which encourages the desired behaviour by all players in the market: vehicle makers, fuel suppliers and, not least, their customers.

    I actually think we will get there in the end. But no thanks to American politicians (Obama possibly being an honourable exception).
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
  14. ForrestDean Registered Senior Member

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    Nah sorry, I don't blame the oil industries because I just have to have my oversized S.U.V., my gasoline for my oversized S.U.V. my iPhone 7s plus, my designer clothes, my fast food restaurants, my 60 inch flat panel T.V. and my 4 other 50 inch flat panel T.V.s for the other bedrooms, my 4 laptop computers (one for me, my wife and 2 of my kids) and 3 desktop computers, my groceries from Brookshire's, my Amazon.com with Amazon Prime of course (because I order from there ALL the time) because I need to have it right away. Oh and did I mention my 4 other kids have S.U.V.s and their own iPhone? I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but if I don't absolutely have all these things then I don't know how I would survive. Plus I don't want to look like I'm less successful than my neighbor.
     
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  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    But of course all that is not really your fault: you've just been conditioned by cynical marketing from all those evil consumer goods companies, right?

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  16. ForrestDean Registered Senior Member

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    Yeaaaaaaah, that's right. It's not my fault. I blame everyone else. I'm just a victim of social pressures and group think.

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    I've got to live up to certain standards. I don't want to be looked down upon. I want to look down to everyone else. Also, how can I go wrong shaping my lifestyle based on all those very convincing and extremely credible commercials and the real-life and totally "uncscripted", "reality" T.V. shows.

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    And the news media, I mean come on. They can't put anything on the news that isn't true, kinda like the Internet right?


    You see, I'm just a victim here.

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  17. spidergoat Trump rejects intelligence Valued Senior Member

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    I would only hold them accountable for their profits after they learned that burning fossil fuels would wreck the environment.
     
  18. StrangerInAStrangeLa SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    So if X number of people want something (or seem to), the ones who become filthy rich selling it to them bear extremely little or no responsibility for the ill effects.

    <>
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Straw man alert.

    As for becoming "filthy rich", who do you think the shareholders are in motor, aviation, fossil fuel, air conditioning, power generation and central heating companies? It's people like you and I, through such prosaic things as pension funds. It's really about time we grew out of thinking of the stereotype of a fat man in a top hat with a cigar. There is a huge degree of interdependence between society and enterprise, in all sorts of ways.
     
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  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    We could do that in three months if we cared to - by making those choices you claim do not exist. Go off-grid. Get an electric vehicle and charge it with solar. Use only local produce from a local organic farm. Travel by train* rather than air. Get rid of lawns. Buy a bike, or an electric bike if you're lazy, and use it to commute, get the kids to school and shop.

    But we don't want to.

    (* - in areas with electrified rail)
     
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  21. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    I get fed up with all the hand wringing, no human will accept less than their share and someone else's.
    All these companies sell to a consumer who's base grows each year.
    Forget stopping warming learn how to survive in the new hotter world that is inevitable.

    Anyone who says they can change things get them to prove their worth by stopping the drug trade or domestic violence or war..if they can do but one of these things maybe I would listen.
    All use the GW for their own purpose.. A new tax, a new book, a newly created job, an alternate energy device, damn even green hippies now say NP is a good thing because NP has presented their energy in a nice green bag.
    Get real folk plan on a much hotter planet.
    Alex
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I think you are unduly pessimistic. There is in fact a huge change under way now, given that emerging industrial markets such as China and India are starting to take it seriously. And in Europe, the conversion away from high carbon fuels is well under way. In the UK last year it seems 25% of powergen was renewable and we had our first week during which no coal-fired stations were run. I read just yesterday that Jaguar-Landrover is contemplating a major electric car investment providing 10,000 new jobs, because they are concerned that if they don't get on it it they will get left behind and miss a game-changing event in car technology.

    There's a long way to go and no doubt we will not be able to stop or reverse a significant amount climate change, but one now begins to see the tide turn. I just hope that the political caveman strategy of the USA at the moment is only a temporary hiccup.

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    P.S. And actually, this is the real point, surely? Rather than pretend the blame can all be loaded onto the shoulders of a handful of companies, society needs to look in the mirror and think about its responsibility for its own political choices. Electing Trump is pissing on everyone's efforts.
     
  23. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Well I hope my pessimism is unwarranted.
    Alex
     
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