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How Billionaires and Massive Corporations are Destroying the Planet

By: Grace M.



Photo from: makechange


Society has manipulated the public into believing that individuals are the reasons why the planet is deteriorating, but in reality, billionaires are the leading cause of climate change. More than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies as stated by the Carbon Majors Report. These companies have known about climate change and its consequences for decades, but continue to choose profit over the environment. For example, oil giant Exxon Mobil knew about climate change since 1977, yet put out misinformation on the topic by releasing flawed academic reports. Additionally, the company outright denied the existence of climate change despite what their research behind the scenes proves. In 1989, the company helped create the Global Climate Coalition, which questioned the scientific facts that backed climate change, putting on a facade of disbelieving the crisis (scientific american.com). Rather than fully taking the blame, oil companies continue to make money by pretending to enact sustainable initiatives, without fully carrying them out effectively. Enacting truly sustainable initiatives would decrease profitability as companies would be unable to produce as much oil. Advertisements also convince the public that they are the sole cause of global warming, and guilt them into thinking that only they, the consumer, can make a change if they’re willing to.

Photo from: The Guardian


Since 1988, global emissions can be traced back to approximately 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The company contributing the most global emissions is a Saudi Arabian oil company called Saudi Aramco, better known as Saudi Arabian Oil Company, with 12.3% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions (E&T). This company and others contribute both direct and indirect emissions.


In addition, fifteen U.S. food and beverage companies generate approximately 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually (Nrdc.org). Not only do these companies release greenhouse gases through the manufacturing of their products, they also cause downstream emissions as well (Nrdc.org). By definition, downstream emissions are emitted after a product or service leaves the company’s control/ownership as stated in a report by Golden Standard. They are the carbon footprint an item creates after production . These greenhouse gas emitting companies must take full responsibility and accountability for their contributions to the deterioration of our environment, and take immediate action to slow the acceleration of climate change.


In more uplifting news, more people are moving away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy slowly but surely, meaning fossil fuel companies will eventually not have as much power in production and profit as well as influence over consumers, and will be forced to cut back on emissions. With more people becoming aware of how disastrous the climate crisis is becoming, protests are igniting pressure on governments to implement effective policies that lower CO2 emissions. While we might not be able to slow down the effects of climate change through our lifestyle habits, we can demand systematic change by contacting our representatives and voting in politicians who share the same stance on environmental policies. If you are eligible to vote yet have not registered, here is a link to get you started: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote. Deadlines are approaching fast!


It’s a great idea to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle: it can make you feel better as a person, make your community a better place, bring people together, and overall lower your environmental impact. However, remember that individuals are not the sole reason climate change is happening and getting worse. If you struggle to lead a more sustainable life and find its financial toll too taxing, do not feel ashamed for making not-so sustainable choices. It can be hard for some families to be able to afford a lifestyle healthier for the planet because of how expensive some sustainable brands are. Not every individual is exposed to sustainable resources and must work with what they are provided with, even if it isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly.


Advertisements need to stop putting the blame on the public and instead call out the companies that refuse to commit to phasing out fossil fuels and being more sustainable. Since being environmentally friendly and “going green” has seemingly become a trend, companies have started to turn this sustainable way of life into consumerism that they can make profit from. Continue living a sustainable life, but remember climate change isn’t going to get worse because you didn’t make the more environmentally friendly choice; it’s because of people in power who are aware of the problem yet continue to choose profit over public safety.


Discussion Questions:

  • Do you ever feel guilty for not making more environmentally conscious decisions? How does the above information make you feel?

  • Has your mentality on billionaires and large corporations changed at all or stayed the same after reading this article? How so?


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