- You’d dispute climate science - making scientists’ predictions seem less certain in the public mind - and work to gut the capacity of scientists to continue their work (by, for instance, defunding NASA’s Earth Sciences program).
- You’d attack global climate agreements, making them look unstable and weak, and thus unlikely to impact your businesses.
- You’d attack low-carbon competitors politically, attempting to portray the evidence that they can replace high-carbon industries as fraudulent (or at least overly idealistic).
- You’d use every leverage point to slow low-carbon industrial progress — for example, by continuing massive subsidies to oil and gas companies, while attacking programs to develop new energy sources.
- You’d support putting a price on carbon, since this makes you look moderate and engaged, but you’d make sure that the definition of a “reasonable” price on carbon was so low and took so long to implement that it was no real threat to your business, and at worst would replace the dirtiest fossil fuels with others (switching for example from coal to gas).
- You would ally with extremists and other sources of anti-democratic power, in order to be able to fight democratic efforts to cut emissions through the application of threats, instability and violence.
- Most of all, you’d invest as heavily as possible in new infrastructure and supply. For oil and gas companies, this means new exploration and new pipelines. Why would you do this, if you know you may have to abandon these assets before they’ve paid off? Two reasons: First, it sends a signal of confidence to markets that you expect to continue to grow in the future. Second, it’s politically harder to force companies to abandon expensive investments than it is to prevent those systems from being built in the first place - the mere existence of a pipeline becomes an argument for continuing to use it. This, too, bolsters investor confidence. (Note that whether these assets are eventually abandoned or not is of little concern to current investors looking to delay devaluations).
Boom or bust time for critical thinking? A Conversation with Richard Heinberg
World's 85 richest people own nearly half of global wealth // World's rich threaten democracy