Climate Change and Economics In 5 Steps

First: Burning as much fuel as we burn is negatively impacting our world. Our science community has reached what is called 'scientific consensus.'

Second: Scientific consensus doesn’t mean every single scientist agrees that human activity is causing climate change. It means that so many scientists agree that the dissenters can’t keep fighting the overwhelming majority. 

Third: This is why science is better than politics. Politics is designed to be drama and fighting and blathering forever and ever. It’s the profit model of our elite system. Science tests and argues and tests and argues and then eventually comes to consensus. For a great read on how this happened with relativity and quantum mechanics almost 100 years ago, click here. It also happened with evolution, and most recently with climate change. 

Fourth: You can’t buy this consensus. If you could, the oil companies would have been the sure fire ones to do it. Oil companies make money as long as we are fully dependent on their product. Oil companies want more than anything for people to stop worrying about climate change or the negative impact of using fuel and just keep burning it as fast as they can.

Fifth: Our feel good moment of the day - For some reason it hasn't worked. With all of their profit, with all of their power in our media and in our government, Big Oil should have been able to purchase enough of the scientific community to make this 'debate' at least close. We should, from a purely economic standpoint, have 40-60% of scientists saying that climate change is a hoax.

 

Allow me to illustrate: 

The top 25 oil companies in the world do a combined $4 Trillion in revenue. The top five oil companies do almost $2 Trillion by themselves

The United States government spent $19 Billion on climate change in 2014, or less than one half of one percent (0.5%) of the total revenue of the top 25 oil companies. The Big Five Oil Companies made many times more than that just in profit in 2014.  

The oil companies could easily spend their own $19 Billion paying people to argue climate change is a hoax. And because the United States consumes the most oil in the world (twice as much as China, four times as much as Japan), oil companies are certainly incentivized to spend that money on US soil.  

It just makes sense for a profit machine: spend a tiny fraction of your total revenue convincing people that using your product has no harmful side effects. Most corporations spend 7-8% of revenue on advertising. That's $680 Billion for Big Oil, or 35 times the amount the US government spends on climate change research. 

Now, we must assume they do spend this money, but the truth is: We don't know how much big oil spends each year or where they spend it. Based on economics it's obvious that they have the capacity to spend a lot. A recent report argues that oil companies flood unknown amounts of money through untraceable lines every year promoting 'climate denialism,' and experts argue that this flow of cash creates the illusion of a climate change 'debate.'  

 

By all economic reasoning, we should have more scientists arguing that climate change isn't real. Big Oil should be able to buy at least half of the scientists over to their side. 

Surprisingly: 97% of scientists still assert that climate change is based on human activity. And these not-for-sale researchers are leading the charge on curbing our thirst for oil. Hooray for science! 

So the next time one of your pro-Big-Oil friends starts going on and on about the climate change hoax and shows you some terrible Forbes article or a blog post by a mean woman at Fox, remind them that while it may be easy to buy yourself a couple hundred of these pretend journalists, scientists remain, by and large, not for sale.