Koche & Kiribati – how can we ignore climate change?

Koche Industries has been coined ‘the biggest company you’ve never heard of’ Rightly so – it has recently been revealed that the Koch brothers quietly funnelled $67 million to climate-denial front groups (Carkk, 2011)

Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they’ve made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (Greenpeace, 2013)

Its this kind of industry that works to create uncertainty in the media and therefore the general population. The Koch brothers undermine belief in climate change and prevent legislation that threatens their profits. By pouring money into bogus scientific studies and funding think tanks and front groups, the public is led to believe a genuine scientific debate is raging. In truth, these studies are just exaggerating the amount of climate change deniers – making the general public believe that the debate is raging at 50/50 – whereas in actual fact, climate change science is stronger than those of the deniers (Carkk, 2011). Simply by creating doubt in the mind of the general population, they are winning over in their fight to deny climate change for commercial and political gain. The media, in an attempt to maintain journalistic integrity and ethics attempt to present a balanced view of the debate – both sides fighting it out, but all this does is lead to misinformation and eventual disinterest as the public has heard it all before.

So where is the real evidence? Cue Kiribati.

So why, as Australians, aren’t we concerned? With cold hard facts like Kiribati, why isn’t the Australian media doing more to promote the cold hard facts and raise awareness of the realities of climate change? Perhaps it is because mainstream networks fear reporting a controversial issue? Or, like our earlier video suggests, big oil companies and large carbon emission producers contribute too much to our global economy to make them accountable for future catastrophe.

I think it would be fair to say that many Australians see climate change as a remote issue. Their perception of risk is limited by the fact that it is a global and long-term issue, and by the way the debate is framed in the media and who is delivering the message. As a society we are more likely to believe celebrity scientists like Al Gore, Karl Kruszelnicki and social commentators rather than actual, specialized climate scientists. As a collective it seems we have been desensitized from the issue – the effects are too remote for us to worry, or to change what we do today in order to set in motion changes for our future generations.

We’re better at dealing with problems that are concrete, close-at-hand, familiar and require skills and tools that we already possess. However climate change is invisible, unprecedented, drawn out, and caused by all of us. And so we feel paralyzed and believe that we are powerless. In a crisis that seems impossible to confront and but too scary to ignore, many people live in a state of willful ignorance. We both know and don’t know what is going on and the media is too afraid to steer us in the right direction.

References

billionairesteaparty. (2011). The Koch Brothers & Their Amazing Climate Change Denial Machine. [Online Video]. 13 June. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaKm89eVhoE. [Accessed: 18 September 2013].

Carrk, T. 2013. The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right. [report] Washington DC: Center for American Progress Action Fund, pp. 1-8, 19-25.

WorldBank. (2011). Effects of climate change in Kiribati- Quick facts. [Online Video]. 26 October. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH5m2PTp34M. [Accessed: 18 September 2013].

Greenpeace. 2013. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine. [online] Available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/ [Accessed: 18 September 2013].

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