Paul Krugman is at it again — being indispensable that is. His most recent column talks about a lie. And not just any old lie, but what just may be the granddaddy of them all.
In this age of political deceit, he implicitly asks: What could be the worst of all possible lies?
To which he answers: How about one that could literally destroy planet earth?
Enemy of the Planet (Times Select wall)
So how have corporate interests responded (to global warming)? In the early years, when the science was still somewhat in doubt, many companies from the oil industry, the auto industry and other sectors were members of a group called the Global Climate Coalition, whose de facto purpose was to oppose curbs on greenhouse gases. But as the scientific evidence became clearer, many members — including oil companies like BP and Shell — left the organization and conceded the need to do something about global warming.
Exxon, headed by Mr. Raymond, chose a different course of action: it decided to fight the science.
A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, in which Exxon (which hadn’t yet merged with Mobil) was a participant, describes a strategy of providing “logistical and moral support” to climate change dissenters, “thereby raising questions about and undercutting the ‘prevailing scientific wisdom.’ ” And that’s just what Exxon Mobil has done: lavish grants have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of global warming skeptics.
Let’s take a moment to sum things up: As a corporation, Exxon is given the legal status of a person. It has used this status to gain control over a huge reservoir of money, a small portion of which it has spent in the intellectually dishonest, but potentially highly profitable, enterprise of pushing junk science alternatives to the real science of global warming. The end result: Exxon, the fake corporate person, is richly rewarded through society’s continued addiction to its product, while real living people face the increasingly grave threat of an environmental catastrophe.
Capitalism, you gotta love it.