As the debate over climate change drags on, there seems to be a polarity that has formed around the subject. While the scientific evidence is clear and overwhelming that climate change is a very real and current problem, there are still many government officials who completely deny the evidence. How can this be?
Consider the swinging 60’s–the Beatles, the moon landing, a time of change and progress, social shifts, and scientific advancement. We all know about the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, but there was another event taking place that is not so well engrained in our minds. That event was the debate over lead.
Up until these debates, lead had proven a very useful resource and was big business. It was used in bullets, plumbing, and even in the paint in children toys. When it was discovered that lead could be used in gasoline to reduce engine piston knocking, factories sprung up quickly to meet demand. It wasn’t long before several workers in leaded gasoline factories went insane and died from exposure to the lead. It turns out that lead is a highly poisonous neurotoxin. This was even known to the ancient Romans. They had an infamous deity named after the metal. Despite this knowledge, the Romans and our 20th century society, continued to mine and distribute it to the community.
Shortly after the mishaps in the factories, scientist Robert Kehoe was hired by the lead companies to convince the public that lead was harmless. He said that lead was naturally occurring in nature, and that while there were occupational hazards for the people working in the factories, they would be handled by implementation of stronger safety precautions. There was no evidence to suggest that lead posed any threat to the consumer. For decades nobody thought anything more of it.
Enter Clair C. Patterson. Patterson was the first scientist to take a stand to the lead companies. Having used lead to determine the age of the Earth, he had become an expert in containing and measuring lead. He measured the amounts of lead in the ocean; coastal, offshore and deep. Discovering that the amounts of lead in the deep ocean were many times lower than those near the surface, and knowing that it took hundreds of years for the shallow waters to mix with the deeper waters, he determined that the lead had to be being introduced by automobiles.
Patterson argued that it was irresponsible to mine millions of tons of hazardous material and dispose it into the environment, while Kehoe continued to argue that there was no evidence that the lead had any impact on public health. The debate continued for another 20 years before lead was finally banned from consumer products.
Now, 40 years after the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, we have the debate of climate change. In many ways this debate isn’t very different from the lead debate. Our current debate is on a much larger scale, but we’re still dealing with what seems to be a corporate denial system. It seems common sense that dumping any material, hazardous or not, out into the world in such vast quantities will have an impact on the very delicate and rare equilibrium that allows mankind to dwell on Earth. If you’ve ever taken an astronomy class, you’ll know exactly how rare and delicate that equilibrium is. For example, if you want to get a sense of how big the atmosphere is compared to the world, take a globe and put a dollar bill on it.
After all the scientific calculations and presentations, the results are in and those results say that human activity is raising the Earth’s temperature. That rise in temperature could have numerous consequences including the rising of sea levels, changes in weather patterns, changes in forestation, water flow, farmable area, storm frequency, and the list goes on. It is clear that it is not the lack of evidence that is the problem here. Therefore, what is the problem?
The problem is vast and deep. There are social issues, issues of crime, morality, respect, law, religion, government, economy, love, hate, construction, destruction, philosophy, duality, trinity, unity, and entrophy. The list never ends, and we could, and have been writing about it since the beginning of history. However, I do want to shed a light on at least one thing today and that is the corporate entity–the embodiment of the corporation into one unified mass.
If you want to look at the issue of climate change, it is important to understand the corporation and their function in society. The original corporations were groups of people that came together to accomplish a common goal. They chartered under the state to take on massive projects that required large groups of people, such as building bridges, water supply systems, or roads.
In early America, corporations were few and far between and their charters were much more limiting. There were clear stipulations on how long they could operate and the amount of money they could make. They could not buy other corporations, and their shareholders were responsible for the corporations’ actions.
With the boom of the industrial revolution, corporations grew large and powerful. To gain more power and facilitate ease of judicial process, corporate lawyers began to stake the claim that the corporate entity was in fact a person under the law. This claim stuck and the corporate entity is still considered a person legally to this today. It is almost ironic that when you give many of the corporate ‘persons’ a personality diagnostic they have all the characteristics of a psychopath.
Consider that. If you don’t believe it, here are some of the qualifications for psychopathology, according to the Psychopathology Checklist by R.D. Hare (some were not included because of their relation to sex, childhood, or criminal record): constant need for stimulation, conning/manipulative, poor behavioral control, lack of realistic long term goals, irresponsibility and failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, and impulsivity, as well as lack of remorse or guilt and other similar attributes.
Interesting relationships between the corporate ‘person’ and psychopaths aside, Essentially the biggest difference between a corporation up to the early 20th century and a corporation today, is that corporations then served as a subordinate entity that provided benefits to the public, while today, these corporations serve themselves more than they do the public. Their biggest concern is profit and not the good of the people.
I think that the biggest point is that the entire system–governmental, economic, and social–needs to be changed, and it needs to be changed soon because it is not only us humans that are calling for it, the planet is calling for it as well. Corporations with their lawyers, law devices and deception can fool the government, the people, even themselves, but they cannot fool the laws of nature. The signs have arrived and choosing to ignore those signs is a testament to ignorance and depravation of the corporate ‘persons.’ After all these ‘persons’ are not people, but are made of people. There will come a time when people as individuals collectively realize the true meaning of competition, a word that pervades the capitalist ideals. The true meaning of competition as derived from its origin in Latin is ‘to strive together.’ When we all recognize what this truly means, then we will recognize the true power of the human race, and the journey does not end there.
Blog By Isaiah Kuhle