Here’s an ad from 1962 in Life magazine.
Three years before that ad appeared, physicist Edward Teller warned that continuing to burn fossil fuels would raise global temperatures “sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York.” And 20 years after that warning, in a study Exxon kept secret for decades, scientists warned that “dramatic environmental effects” would occur before 2050. The Guardian goes on scrutinize several more ads as the oil bosses adjusted their message over time—moving from ridiculing the “chicken littles” to talking about “unsettled science” to buying today’s ads that pretend the oil industry’s No. 1 priority is the environment. Only the most gullible toddler expects truth in advertising, but some of these oil ads provide a strong impetus to stock up on barf bags.
Take Chevron, for instance. Ranked as the world’s fifth-largest oil company and No. 27 on the Fortune 500, Chevron has relabeled itself the “human energy company,” and, according to Geoff Dembicki at Rolling Stone, “has aired nearly 30,000 TV advertisements over the past 15 months, trying to convince people that it is green.”
More than 80 percent contained terms such as “sustainable,” “renewable,” “environment,” and “clean.” In reality, however, Chevron has contributed more than 43 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere since 1965, data from the Climate Accountability Institute shows, placing it among the most climate-damaging companies on the planet. “The large majority of ads Chevron is airing are touting their shift to more clean energy,” says Rachel Haskin, senior marketing manager for AdImpact.
Next thing you know, lobbyists will be urging cities around the world to erect bronzes of oil barons honoring their contribution as pioneers in addressing the climate crisis.
In a press statement released Monday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that the Biden administration will begin a two-year Bureau of Land Management study to determine whether to ban new oil and gas drilling within a 10-mile radius of northwest New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a 30,000-acre, culturally important region that includes Native petroglyphs and the ruins of 1,000-year-old stone buildings. The National Park Service calculates 4,000 archaeological sites and 1.5 million artifacts are extant in the park. Like other Indigenous Pueblo, Haaland’s Laguna Pueblo people have ancestral ties to the Chaco area in northwest New Mexico:
“Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high desert community,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Now is the time to consider more enduring protections for the living landscape that is Chaco, so that we can pass on this rich cultural legacy to future generations. I value and appreciate the many Tribal leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders who have persisted in their work to conserve this special area.”
In the coming weeks, the BLM intends to publish a notice in the Federal Register that will commence a two-year segregation of the federal lands while the bureau conducts an environmental analysis and seeks public comment on the proposed administrative withdrawal. BLM will also initiate formal Tribal consultation. The segregation and potential withdrawal would not affect existing valid leases or rights and would not apply to minerals owned by private, State, or Tribal entities.
The park was first protected as a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, just a year after Congress passed the Antiquities Act authorizing presidents to designate such monuments. Environmental and tribal activists have worked for years to gain protection from additional oil and gas drilling.
Not everybody is happy with the administration’s move. Jim Winchester, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, told the Albuquerque Journal, “Safe and responsible oil and gas development around Chaco does not pose a threat to the already protected sites of the sacred Chaco National Historical Park. Operators and mineral rights holders, including several Navajo allottees, have repeatedly made efforts to reach a reasonable, science-based understanding about how to protect these sacred sites. A 10-mile buffer is an overreach of federal authority, is arbitrary, and is not based in any science other than in political science.”
Donovan Quintero at the Navajo Times reports some of the more than 20,000 Navajo allottees could lose income from mineral extraction from plots of land that were granted to individuals from 1887-1934 as part of the federal government’s efforts to culturally destroy and assimilate Indigenous Americans and remove tens of millions of acres of commonly held land from tribal control.
Delora Hesuse, a Navajo allotment owner in Nageezi, in 2019 testified at U.S. House hearing during a discussion on the Chaco Canyon Heritage Area Protection Act. [...]
“My ancestors were allotted the land and minerals rights by the United States government many generations ago, and it pains me to see that my own leaders, both tribal and U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, are supporting a bill that put my oil and gas rights off limits,” Hesuse told the committee. [...]
“These lands were given to our great-great-grandparents in exchange for citizenship, and we have rights as citizens and landowners to develop our lands for oil and gas as we see fit,” she said.
In 2020, the Naabik’íyáti Committee, which scrutinizes Navajo legislation, unanimously opposed the 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco, calling instead for it to be five miles.
10 climate action groups to check out and maybe join, many led by youth:
• My cherished Alaskan wilderness faces a threat: Mining for green energy, by John Gaedeke: “North of the Arctic Circle, in Alaska’s remote Brooks Range, a backpack and strong legs can take you to the quietest spot in the entire National Park Service system. A pack raft and a bit of paddling can have you communing with musk oxen and caribou on the tundra. I still struggle to believe how wild and open these mountains are, and I have been among them my entire life. But the state of Alaska wants to change all of that. Last year, the permit for a 211-mile industrial trucking corridor to promote mining along the southern edge of the Brooks Range was approved via a shoddy, fast-tracked process.”
• Enviro groups diversify but only slowly, and funding gaps remain, by Jeremy P. Jacobs: In a new report, Green 2.0 found that major U.S.-based environmental groups have boosted the percentage of people of color on their full-time staffs and boards over the past two years. But while that percentage is now 30%, it still doesn’t match the U.S. population at large, with people under 16 now being less than 50% white. For the first time this year, the 7-year-old organization scrutinized major foundations’ grants on climate and other environmental arenas and found "The amount of average annual grant making to White-led organizations is much higher than for organizations led by [people of color]."
• How Americans’ Appetite for Leather in Luxury SUVs Worsens Amazon Deforestation, by Manuela Andreoni, Hiroko Tabuchi and Albert Sun: An investigation by The New York Times shows that Brazil’s slaughterhouse industry, which sells beef and megatons of leather annually to major companies in the United States and elsewhere, have found that inadequate monitoring systems let hides from cattle grazed on illegally deforested Amazon land to flow unchecked into the international market from Brazil’s tanneries. That market is valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. One big reason is consumer desire for luxurious leather seats in pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles sold by automakers. A dozen or more hides are often needed for the seats of a single vehicle.
• More Eyes on Polluters: The Growth of Citizen Monitoring, by Jon Hurdle: Activists in western Pennsylvania, who over the decades have developed a profound distrust of petrochemical companies and government regulators, have taken to doing their own monitoring of air, water, and noise pollution with high-tech, low-cost equipment.
• First Global Inventory of Large Solar Power Plants, by Margaret Davis: In the journal Nature, Lucas Kruitwagen from the University of Oxford and his colleagues published the first global inventory of large solar energy facilities with at least 10 kilowatts of electricity-generating solar energy capacity. Using artificial intelligence, his team found four times as many such facilities as had been previously counted—68,661 of them totaling 423 gigawatts. For comparison, electricity-generating capacity in the United States from all sources—renewable or not—is slightly more than 1,100 gigawatts, while globally the total is about 7,300 gigawatts.
• Worsening heat waves are hammering the disabled community, by Krystal Vasquez: People with disabilities are disproportionately imperiled by heat waves like those that hit the Pacific Northwest and killed 750 people last summer. Heat waves cause disproportionate harm to people living in poverty, communities of color, and homeless individuals as well. All of these "are bellwether populations for some of the impacts on the disability community," according to Alex Ghenis, founder of Accessible Climate Strategies. More than 70 million people currently live with autonomic dysfunction, which makes it difficult for people to regulate their body temperature. And that is far from the only condition made worse by extreme heat. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases are among the most common ones. Activists say accessible cooling centers and air conditioning are key to combating this.
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