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Billionaires Cause Climate Change

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I co-wrote the following piece with iops member Fred Curran. It is the latest article we have written for our media collective Anarchimedia. I wanted to share it with you all in the hope that it might resonate with some of you and we want to know what you think. We also would love to have more contributing writers, so if any of you have a piece of writing you would like to share with us, please send it our way. You can contact me in the comments below, on the website, or email us at anarchimedia@riseup.net



Billionaires Cause Climate Change


Billionaires are all benefiting from the destruction of the planet and the exploitation of people. Many don’t seem to care about the planet, spending a lot of money to get people to doubt climate change is happening. Some billionaires may want us to save the environment, but to do it in ways that deliver them profits; they want us to shoulder the climate blame and burden. They want you either living wasteful lives for their benefit or scraping by at a rate that can’t threaten their position or power. They want you in tiny houses, eating goya beans, working 5 jobs just so you can walk 5 miles to buy groceries and carry it home in your canvas bag. Not all, but most billionaires want you to be green insofar as it makes you feel good enough to continue buying oil.

The billionaires don’t want us to look too closely at the link between their profits and the pollution it causes. It is in their interest for normal people to blame each other and themselves, so we fight each other while they profit off of every manner of environmental destruction and exploitation.

Our individual actions to recycle, to reduce, to reuse will not make a dent to undo the havoc the behemoths of industry have unleashed on our environment. Our individual actions will not revive the 60% of animal populations that have been wiped out from climate change and environmental destruction. Our individual green actions do not address how ingrained the problems are that have brought us here.

It is true that if, collectively, everyone lived their lives differently we could save the planet. We talk a lot about the different ways individuals can make an impact. We should all use less water, use canvas bags to shop, carpool, ride bikes, ride the bus instead of driving. If everyone lived in that tiny house and ate those beans, we could save the planet and billionaires could maintain the control and the lifestyles that they do now. It is also true that if billionaires changed how they make their money, we could also save the planet, but billionaires won’t change willingly.

When we go shopping for groceries with those canvas bags, we fill them with products of a system with immense suffering at each step of the process- from the growth, production, extraction, packaging and delivery. Almost everything we consume is a relic of the heartless process owned and controlled by billionaires. Things are made in an unsustainable way because that’s how people can make more money on it.

The way ordinary people live does not compare to the lavish lifestyles of billionaires, lapping up profits from the system they own- that destroys the planet and kills all kinds of animals and people. Billionaires aren’t taking any steps in their day-to-day lives to decrease their ecological footprint to anything approaching your own.

Any climate change solutions proposed by billionaire owned and controlled institutions, governmental or otherwise, will just be mechanisms to exploit and profit, continuing this horrible arrangement where they own and control everything and we beg them to work. The billionaires want to push consumer side solutions or ever larger technocratic mechanisms, if they have any solutions for climate change at all. They want us to ignore the vast waste and exploitation at every step of the production process so they can put every penny into influencing the next poor soul who buys their wasteful garbage. There is planned obsolescence built into nearly every product their corporations sell. They want you to buy, replace and repeat.

We may be at an important historical point, one where humanity could collectively seize this moment- the people could seize the means of automation, for themselves and their own communities. Humanity could enter into a post scarcity world where we become so efficient and resourceful with our application of technology that goods, services and information become practically free. If done right we could save the environment and it needs to be saved.



Photo: “In their stuation” by 70023venus2009 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


here is a link to the original post: https://anarchimedia.com/2018/12/10/billionaires-cause-climate-change/

here is a link to the site: https://anarchimedia.com/

Discussion 19 Comments

  • Boulder Dash 11th Dec 2018

    Because the economic system operates institutionally like that. This is known. What is far less known is how to create a set of economic institutions that does the opposite. What is far less done, is to show others that it is possible, beyond merely local on the ground examples, beyond green new deals and the urgency for change that merely creates fear, and beyond pointing the finger.

    “Finally, I would argue that science, if done properly, can help provide the basis for morality. The supposed split between facts and values is a myth perpetuated by philosophers and anthropologists pushing cultural relativism. That is, there are better and worse ways of structuring the global economy to maximize the opportunities for human enrichment and fulfillment. Some moral values are better than others. We shouldn’t shy away from that debate because we would prevail by carefully explaining — with evidence — how global capitalism is the primary cause of general human misery, everything from material conditions to massive alienation.” (Gary Olson, A Few Thoughts on Politcs and Personal Identity)

    There are better and worse ways of structuring a global economy to maximise opportunities for human enrichment? Exactly but what are they? Where is this constant and enriching debate?

    This is where the whole point of change converges and it is the very place that most concerned people tend to avoid.

    • Claire Bruhn 15th Dec 2018

      Yes. You ask good questions, I don't know the answers to. I hope that constant enriching debate will happen somewhere.

    • Irie Zen 16th Dec 2018

      Thanks for sharing it with us HERE@IOPS. I hope we'll see you here more often Claire.

  • Alex of... 12th Dec 2018

    use of fossil fuel is creating climate change. it is true that there are a handful of people that benefit the most from our combined production and consumption as human beings, much of which is rooted-in and reliant-on our continued use of fossil fuel. the problem is two-fold. one, we must live within the ecological constraints of our planet. however, that doesn't necessarily imply there wouldn't be disparity of wealth or power, as there has been before use of fossil fuel. if we want to change that, then we need mechanisms and institutions formed for better collective equality and fairness.

    i'm not quite sure what seizing the means of "automation" really means, other than that being one element of production, as some of it is currently achieved. once seized, i assume we need to move toward sustainable methods of production to end climate change, which means use of renewables, and/or less need for electricity/energy (necessary with forms of automation?). if the premise is switching to renewables, then we must take into account the necessary amount of resources needed to build that infrastructure, where it comes from, what kind of human energy and current use of fossil fuel is required to set it up, and if it is going to be just for our country or some kind of equal allocation for the global community. so then, how much of any of that is there to go around? and what can we expect from future global trade if we are removing fossil fuel or diminishing its use in stages?

    i'm not sure what is envisioned as "practically free" in the "post scarcity world". i would need more elaboration to understand. tactics on "seizing" is another topic.

    i do currently have a blog up that delves into my above questions on renewables, global trade and fairness. any are welcome to pick through the logic or consider the questions.


    • Alex of... 12th Dec 2018

      wiping out forests is also not helping the planet correct for our use of fossil fuel. there's an Amazon i like, and an Amazon i don't.

    • Claire Bruhn 15th Dec 2018

      On automation...Many jobs are being lost to automation (robots, AI systems...etc). This in itself is not a bad thing, it could mean that those people that were once toiling away at dangerous or repetitive jobs or in low skilled labor will no longer have to take those jobs, and in an ideal world, if things were structured differently- they might then either not have to work at all, or the work they did could be more enriching and fulfilling. But we don't have those kinds of choices. People work because they have to if they want to survive, there is no real choice. And those shitty jobs that people have to work at, that they depend on, those jobs will be swallowed by automation. All of them. And the other big problem is that we, the unroyal we, don't own those systems, the systems that will replace all our jobs are owned by billionaires or soon to be billionaires. So we are at their mercy. Hence the need to seize automation.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2018

      there are of course the more democratic socialist pushes for redistributing the wealth coming in from automation to account for job loss. earn more working less or doing something else rather than the ownership class getting richer and working class getting less options. i support that happening but not as a destination, just a strategic step toward fairness and reality. even from a capitalistic viewpoint, it makes more sense to have people earning enough to consume. i don't think billionaires want you walking five miles. they want you buying cars or having groceries delivered by their 'fresh' services. too many really poor folk becomes dangerous to them on multiple levels.

      if we're talking about public ownership and cooperatizing in general toward no more class division, i am also for that as well. the problem i hit is the potential assumption of what kind of living standard that implies. i would suggest that our automation (and infrastructure) that currently relies on fossil fuel would require massive resources to convert to renewables, which is likely not possible for the global population at its current number. and that much of what is produces domestically relies on resources and cheap labor from somewhere else. and that, much of what we consume in total also comes from somewhere else. and much of it is just plain over-use ecologically. in general, we have a consumption problem.

      from a little different angle..

      part of the reason many working class right-wingish types DO like the existence of rich people is because it feeds their dream of becoming rich. BUT, it's also that they accept the idea of a rich class as the job-creating innovators of modern living. they look at the rest of the world and see a bunch of people struggling far worse than anything they face, and that confirms that our system is working better. who cares if people get rich if we all get cool shit? but our cool shit is based on exporting slave labor to other countries, and our whole way of life depends on the energy from fossil fuel, including automation. 5 percent of the population consuming 25 percent of the global energy production. our model can't go global because it requires cheap labor and more energy production than possible.

      those issues remain true if we simply equalized wealth. many people here could live more enriching lives at over $60,000 a year (American per capita). adopting renewables in the over-developed nations such as ours might help us slow down climate change, but we are also over-consuming in many other ways.. some of which would naturally slow down the further we get away from fossil fuel but..

      i just mean to be realistic about the outcomes of heading toward more sustainability and less reliance on foreign labor exploitation, which i'm sure you are for. perhaps it could be post-scarcity in that we are missing more enriching and fulfilling ways of life that don't rely on so much product and mass manufacturing, or can find more enjoyment in building a house or growing food or sewing clothing when it's not part of an assembly line.

      there's potential steps, there's potential collapses and wars. i advocate some steps i don't whole-heartedly agree with simply because i think it might be the most culturally possible without going full-blown WW3or4 with nukes and shit. blinders are on pretty heavy.

      revolution? yes. kill Bezos? no prob :)
      dude accumulates all that billions-worth of human and eco-energy.. wants to spend it on colonizing outer space like he's taking us to the next level. blows my mind.. would be fair to reciprocate.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2018


    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2018


      "According to the same report (2005)... In order for the world's population to attain the living standards typical of European countries, the resources of between three and eight planet Earths would be required with current levels of efficiency and means of production. In order for world economic equality to be achieved with the current available resources, proponents say rich countries would have to reduce their standard of living through degrowth. The constraints on resources would eventually lead to a forced reduction in consumption. Controlled reduction of consumption would reduce the trauma of this change assuming no technological changes increase the planet's carrying capacity."


    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2018

      population needs degrowth too. just plain too many humans and too many new humans on the way.

  • Dave Jones 14th Dec 2018

    Of course I agree with the basic sentiment that the many are being screwed by the few but I don't really get the emphasis on "billionaires"? This is the rhetoric Bernie Sanders employed, as if putting some random dollar figure on the bad guys makes it easier to digest, but really the number is meaningless and IMO confuses the actual social relations of capitalism. I felt the same way about Occupy and the meme of "the 1%". The 3% and 8 and 13 and 34 percents are all problematic, right?

    • Claire Bruhn 15th Dec 2018

      About 70% of global greenhouse emissions come from only 100 companies. I don't get why people are so quick to forgive billionaires for their bad choices when they have such an enormous impact on the rest of the planet. I don't know what it is: idolatry, hope that we might one day be that rich or that we fear them and their power so we don't want to criticize them. I can appreciate your sentiment about the difference between the 1% and the 3% etc. I doubt there will ever be a percentage break down that we will all agree on. I think it's only value is to conceptualize to people how vast inequality of wealth is, even still it's confusing and doesn't hit the nail on the head.
      I have a friend that was out of work for a short time, she is very well to-do and has a supportive family. She kept complaining to me that she was "broke." It bothered me that she didn't understand how well of she was, and I lost my cool with her a little and I said, "You know you are in the 1%, right?" And she didn't take it well, and we got in an argument about the privilege percentage in the world versus in the United States. She was willing to accept that she was in the top percentile of wealth compared to the whole world, but didn't believe she was in the top percentile in the United States, and she felt poor in comparison to others in her community. Needless to say, I didn't win much favor with my friend by trying to illuminate her privilege.
      I don't think Billionaires are necessarily "bad" or evil. They are more or less like everyone else, except they have a lot more power over people and the planet and I think that is what is bad and evil.
      I'd probably enjoy talking to Jeff Bezos for example, he's probably an interesting guy. I could bet if I brought it up to him that he was in the 1% he wouldn't be able to disagree with me like my friend did. He would probably agree that yes he is in the 1%. I could also bet that he believes he deserves to have all that money because he is still the richest dude on the planet (on the books). I could also assume he believes climate change is happening and I could also assume he believes poverty and wealth inequality is a problem. I can also assume that he doesn't think it's really his problem to do anything about it- it's the world's problem, and he's "just one guy." I can assume this because I haven't heard any plans of his to transition Amazon into a worker-owned operation and he is not involved in any massive reforestation efforts, for example.
      One guy is maybe not bad on his own, but a couple thousand billionaires all acting like Bezos is a big BIG problem. They may not be inter-personally bad, but they are running the evil system.

    • Boulder Dash 15th Dec 2018

      It’s an easy thing to see for sure. Chomsky alludes to it all the time. Those who work inside the private tyrannies are probably good people. Love their family and friends but once inside those institutions they have no choice but to behave the way they do.

      Jensen and Tucker would say they do have a choice and choise the wrong way, a way that’s fucking everything. But then you look at Kevin Tucker’s solution and it’s horrendous. Or you look at the simplicity folk or degrowthers and you ask how do you get into the heads of the underclasses or even those who live in run down public housing estates in massive urban and city areas? Is that it, a less extreme version of the anrcho-primmy, of permaculture and greening and simple living for all...ALL? Really? All 7 billion of us? What’s the time span for change and where exactly do we end up and with what kind of global economy or will it inevitably end logically where Tucker wants to go anyway?

      Then you rush to the other extreme, the usual, been around for a while now solutions. The slower gradualist school. Viking economics and Keynsian solutions. Basic incomes and minimum wages. Wealth redistribution graduating up to today’s call for a green new deal, stemming from a sense of impending doom and toward worker owned businesses and co-ops with accompanying partner states. Parecon anyone? Then you get the criticisms within the left of all these solutions. Criticisms of tactics, strategy and institutional goals. Markets or planning? Criticisms that split the left and render the idea of a much needed grand alliance or Bloc or movement of movement hopeless...a non starter.

      There is dark money out there definitely. CUNTS. Awful people. But your friend isn’t awful. Neither are my kids and friends, many of whom are not at all concerned enough but are caught up in securing a certain degree of happiness in the current world before they die, buried with a final sigh, underneath piles and piles of guilt.

      With what the fuck do we replace the current monstrosity and how do we sell that to the rest of the world, many of whom we all tend to denigrate for their passivity and lack of concern as if “we” are so much smarter?

      If the shit hits the fan sooner than later, Humans will adapt, try to survive, in any way they can, with all sorts of diverse views and approaches, just like now. If millions die, shit happens, they will tell themselves and others. To me there will be no difference to how people think about these problems now. If the human race perishes, it perishes.

      If you do not want that, or geo-engineering and tech solutions that could be worse, and the shit doesn’t hit the fan as badly as some say, and there is some time, and you need ecological change and a better more equitable economy that doesn’t create over powerful cunts, then you need to think about what those things can be and how to get there. And they need to be sold to the public by sensible, likeable, good talking reasonable people and WELL, or no one will listen.

      That’s pretty hard, even this place couldn’t survive its internal bickering.

  • Irie Zen 15th Dec 2018

    #1 http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/iops-braincloud-powwow-2018/7h3_h363m0ny-oligarchy

    #2 http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/quotes

    #3 http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/help-support

    #4 http://www.iopsociety.org/news/fighter-comrade

    #5 http://www.iopsociety.org/news/roution

  • Dave Jones 16th Dec 2018

    on a rational planet, such brutal inequality would spark people to action. On an emotional level I would love to bring a huge guillotine to the next "march for justice" and a sign saying: "You're Playing Us Too Close!" But the truth is, while everybody hates rich people, we all want to be one; we all know we would be "good" rich people, we would do good while doing well.

    As a guide at a super fancy resort, I have worked with the "power elite" (remember C.Wright Mills?) for three decades. Many will agree with Bernie that we need some "re-distribution" (they sense the guillotine) but just like Bernie they will never question the property relations that create inequality in the first place. That's where Parecon comes in, right? Maybe starting with the "Green New Deal" and DSA and progressing towards ecosocialism and the Communist Idea, through our careful, relentless pushing (plus a hurricane or two and another crash and recession?).

    My clients will never buy in; they'll say we're just resentful "losers" trying to jump the Meritocracy line. As will their cultural comrades in the working class. Until climate change gobsmacks them.

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2018

      i'll go ahead and insert a couple little reiterations here

      per my comments on your http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/winds-of-change blog about Malcolm's multi-angular approach (and elsewhere).. i strongly believe that a base of 'federated' worker-coops is an ideal, if not necessary, step which can be connected to DSA politics. and is also within reach. otherwise we simp[y have political tools to fight over, which at best is leaning toward top-down socialist planning vs big biz and cold war propaganda.

      and as for the "cultural comrades in the (right wing) working class".. we need some of them in GND jobs, preferably coops.. and unions ok too. Bernie would have been a better choice to help usher some of that in. Trump era has revamped the meritocracy bit into those folks, but it can be shifted if they smell jobs. what we don't need is working class cultures pitted against each other. we also don't need a bunch of armed rural boys going all 'protect the homeland from ecoterrorists' either (potential misplaced/timed rupturing). skin in the game.


  • Boulder Dash 16th Dec 2018

    Am I going insane or have two comments been removed here?

    • reader 16th Dec 2018

      Two comments got removed here. I removed a redundant comment (the one above the one that said "Revised..."), but it looks like the revised one disappeared too.
      I'm very sorry about this, Boulder.
      If people would like editorial help on content, they can let admin team know. The self-managing approach seems to be working fine, so will continue to abide by that.

    • Boulder Dash 16th Dec 2018

      Ok. Just checking whether I was seeing things.