This piece appeared in the October edition of the online OM Magazine, a cover story based around a radio interview I did with Sandie Sedgbeer about climate change.
DICK RUSSELL – GLOBAL WARMING: WHEN PROFITS TRUMP TRUTH
Dick Russell is an acclaimed environmental writer, activist, lecturer, and author of 13 books on subjects ranging from natural history to the assassination of President Kennedy. His latest book, Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Men Who are Destroying Life on Earth and What it Means to our Children, written with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. before Trump came to power lays bare the sordid truth about the energy moguls most responsible for the climate disaster that our civilization is facing.
The following interview is taken from Sandie Sedgbeer’s radio show, What Is Going OM on OMTimes Radio.
An interview with Dick Russell – Global Warming: When Profits Trump Truth
Interview by Sandie Sedgbeer
The science is overwhelming, the facts are in – the planet is heating up at an alarming rate, and the results are everywhere to be seen. Yet, as time runs out, climate progress is blocked by the men who are profiting from the burning of the planet.
Dick Russell joins me today to expose the men behind the lies and the cover-ups about the severe impacts of climate change. He’s going to tell us what motivates them to put their profits and careers ahead of the health and welfare of their own children, grandchildren and the rest of us.
And on a more positive note, he’s going to reveal the rebellious descendants of the fossil fuel families who are trying to make a difference in a more sustainable world.
Sandie Sedgbeer: Dick, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, focuses on the energy moguls that are most responsible for the disaster that we’re facing. With the election of Trump, many of the people profiled in your book are now in ultimate positions of power. When you and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. first conceived this book, did you have any idea that it would be so prophetic?
Dick Russell: Absolutely not, and that’s really the most alarming aspect of the book coming out right now. I mean, Rex Tillerson, who was one of the main people that I profiled in the book, was then the head of Exxon Mobile, had been for some years, and suddenly, he’s become Secretary of State. Scott Pruitt, who’s now running the EPA, had been the protégé of Harold Hamm, who is this fracker extraordinaire, I guess you’d say – pioneering of hydraulic natural gas fracturing of the earth in Oklahoma. And Hamm had been behind him for a long time pushing him forward as Oklahoma’s Attorney General. Harold Hamm was one of the horsemen that I profiled, as well.
The Koch brothers from Wichita suddenly had their congressperson that they’d installed really in Wichita, Kansas, their home base, becoming the head of the CIO. I mean, it was just staggering to see what happened after Donald Trump took office.
Sandie Sedgbeer: Well, at the same time, for the rest of the world, it’s a really good thing your book has come out right now because at least we can be alerted to the truth.
Dick Russell: Well, I hope so, that’s obviously why I wrote it, to try to get the word out and make people realize the facts have been in for a long time, that the disaster that we’re facing is going to cripple civilization, and it’s not that far away. I mean, 16 of the past 17 years have seen record-setting temperatures all over the world. What’s really scary, as the Arctic Ocean is heating 20 to 30 degrees above normal last summer, sea ice there is at an all-time low, and oceans are rising more than they have since the last Ice Age.
I mean, there is absolutely no doubt that climate change is happening at an accelerating pace and that human beings, basically the big fossil fuel companies, are more responsible for this than anything else, and there’s just no scientific doubt about it anymore.
Sandie Sedgbeer: Just yesterday, The New York Times published an unreleased draft, The Federal Scientist Climate Report, released, and apparently leaked before Trump could bury it. So, the timing does seem to be very, very interesting.
Dick Russell: I read that piece. I think it was leaked because the scientists who have written this report are very afraid it’s going to be suppressed by the Trump Administration, that it won’t release it.
So, that’s what’s real, we’re living in an Orwellian world where, alt facts are put forward by the Trump Administration as reality, and the terrifying facts about global warming and climate change are being buried. That’s been true from day one when the Administration came in when they started censoring, taking, removing all information about climate change and its dire effects from the websites of the EPA and NASA and the Department of Agriculture, everybody else.
Sandie Sedgbeer: And the really scary thing is how many people, believe the lies, believe the alt facts.
Dick Russell: Yeah. They do, they do, sure. I mean, denial is human nature and if it’s too much to bear, no matter what it is, if it’s one of our relatives going to jail, our children having a breakdown or whatever, people just often have a really hard time dealing with it. And that’s what’s going on certainly with climate change.
Sandie Sedgbeer: Your book details the cover-ups that have been going on for 30 years. Tell us a little bit of the history. What’s been going on, how it started, where it started and why it started.
Dick Russell: Well, it really started with Exxon Mobile, for example, or before they were Exxon Mobile, back when they were just Exxon, they had their own scientists studying what was going on with the climate way back, 30 to 40 years ago. Their own scientists began coming in and saying, hey, there’s going to be a big problem.
But instead of going forward with their research regarding any public recognition, they started funding these climates denying scientists, paying big money to scientists like Willie Soon from Harvard and others to basically say, “Well, there’s a lot of doubt about this situation, we can’t really be sure that it’s happening.”
They did everything they could to fund people, people in political positions. Of course, when the Bush Administration came in, it was much easier than it would have been had Al Gore become President, as he should have been rightfully. But, the Bush Administration just completely went along. They called in Exxon right from day one, and Exxon was successful in stopping the Kyoto Protocol from being implemented by the US at that time.
At the same time, Exxon’s own scientists were discovering, along with their research and development teams, alternative energy that was going to change things. Exxon was ahead of the curve. They were making the motors for these hybrid vehicles and actually supplying them to Toyota and then completely shut that research division down, letting go of things like fuel cell development, which could totally change things.
They had a guy named Pat Grimes, who I write about in the book, who was a genius and was very into fuel cells and hybrid cells and all are going to be as profitable as their oil and gas business.
All of the big fossil fuel companies were involved in covering up what was going on with the climate and in fact paying scientists to claim that it wasn’t as bad as we’re now seeing it is.
Sandie Sedgbeer: We hear a lot lately about the Koch brothers and, what their ultimate agenda is. Can you tell us about the Koch brothers?
The New Yorker did a piece, I guess it must be seven or eight years ago now, exposing these guys.
Fred Koch, the father, actually made his fortune in Stalin’s industrializing Soviet Union and then by building refineries in Hitler’s Germany.
They’re the planet’s largest exporter of oil from the tar sands in Canada and the second largest private company in the entire US. So, that’s kind of the basic background on them.
Sandie Sedgbeer: So, we know a little bit about their background, but, I mean, who are these men? Are they completely morally bankrupt?
Dick Russell: I’ve never met them. I went to Kansas. I tried to get an interview, but of course, they didn’t want to talk to me. So, I interviewed a lot of the activists there; so, it’s baffling in a sense. I think they justify themselves ideologically and claim that the free market is what they’re really about and that everything should be gauged by that. But, of course, it’s their form of denial of what they’re doing to the planet. So, in that sense, yeah, I would say that they’re morally bankrupt. They just don’t give a damn.
Sandie Sedgbeer: It is mind-boggling. I mean, your book, it’s stunning. It’s also sickening, and I don’t mean that as, derogatory to you. It’s just the scale of this, and the wanton lack of any morals at all is just mind-boggling. I mean, everything that we think about humanity and the higher values that we all share, and many of these people could be called the devil’s spawn.