Exxon: Guilty of negligent asphyxiation of the planet.
This week a US federal judge ordered Exxon to pay $4.5 billion
in punitive damages to fisherman and others impacted by the spill
of more than a 53 million gallons of oil in Alaska. With interest,
the penalty could reach nearly 7 billion dollars.
But Exxon is appealing the decision, and has managed to keep the
case in court almost continuously since its oil tanker ran aground
in March of 1989. In the same way, while scientists raise
ever-increasing alarms about the impacts of global warming, the
world's #1 environmental criminal has paid for and promoted
foot-dragging and ducked responsibility for the environmental
consequences of its products.
Exxon Valdez impacts? Exxon claims that all impacted species in
the area of the spill are on the road to recovery, if not fully
recovered. According to US fish and wildlife officials quoted in
the New Scientist, however, "most seabird populations hit by the
Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska have still to show signs of
recovery over a decade after the disaster."
Global warming? A new ad from Exxon claims the jury is still out
on whether human behaviour is responsible, despite overwhelming
evidence to the contrary.
If Exxon were pulled into court someday in the future for the
damage which oil is doing to our world, what would the bill look
The cost of delay
Let's start with the price tag for the million species of plants
and animals now forecast to be extinct in the next 50 years under
the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change's midrange
scenarios for global warming.
Add to that the costs of widespread destruction from floods,
storms, and the extreme weather which will increase in frequency as
our world continues to heat up.
Then there's the cost of sea-level rise, potentially up to six
metres, and the costs of evacuating low lying areas of the world
such as the Netherlands and Bangladesh.
Throw in widespread outbreaks of diseases like Malaria, Dengue
Fever, and Encephalitis in places such as North America where
they've never been common before, as Mosquito habitats shift north
with temperature rise.
After you tally all that up, think about what some yet-unborn US
District Court judge might think when confronted with evidence that
Exxon not only knew of the environmental consequences of continued
fossil fuel use and ignored them, but actively worked to contradict
the evidence and lobby against the Kyoto Protocol and other actions
against climate change.
What will the exemplary damages look like when that judge
decides that Exxon's standard operating procedure has been to
delay, stall, and hinder advancement of action against the
environmental problems linked with oil -- from the Exxon Valdez on
up to their contribution to the slow cooking of our planet.
It's time for Exxon to pay for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It's
time for Exxon to face the music and begin helping to build a
fossil-fuel free future. It's time to end the deadly delay.
Don't buy Exxon. Don't buy
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