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LETTER: What does the Boeing 737 Max 8 have to do with climate crisis?

Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg said to world leaders: “How Dare You?” The phrase has become a youth slogan across the globe as young people demand action from politicians to halt climate change. This sign was seen at a climate strike and rally in Middleton Sept. 27.
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The answer to the title question is simple, profit. Big business has a long and storied history of risking people’s lives for profit.

The only difference is now the risk is global.

Big Tobacco spent decades obfuscating, misleading, delaying and downright lying, while millions died of lung cancer, and now, according to many prominent researchers (J. Cook, G. Supran, et al. 2019; D. Sawyer, 2019, etc.) and the District Attorney of New York, Big Energy has been doing the same thing with climate change.

In the current case the casualties will be our children and grandchildren.

George Santayana said that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Well our current generation does not remember all those coal miners lost in disasters that could have easily been avoided if owners were willing to spend a few dollars on safety. That’s history you say, things have changed.

Read the report of the public inquiry into the Westray Coal Mine Disaster in Nova Scotia in 1992 and tell me how much things have changed.

Read the detailed reports from the Ocean Ranger 1982, Bhopal 1984, Piper Alpha 1988, Texas City 2005, Deep Water Horizon 2010, etc., disasters and tell me how much things have changed. A long and storied history of risking people’s lives for profit, but surely they wouldn’t try to hide the truth of climate change.

You tell me. Are we condemned to repeat history?

A 1977 internal Exxon (remember the Valdez?) memo published in “America Misled” (a report by the aforementioned, Cook and Supran, et al.) clearly stated that CO2 release is the most likely cause of climate change and predicted a possible one to three degree global temperature rise by 2050 with a possible 10-degree rise at the poles. Does anyone remember Exxon passing this risk information along to the rest of us in 1977?

The energy sector has access to some of the best scientists and risk-management specialists in the world, so they know the truth, but truth is strong stuff and the general public are not really equipped to handle it “straight up.”

So, like the truth about tobacco, those in the know about fossil fuels must protect us from it and dole it out grudgingly. After all, it’s for our own good.

In response to the historical environmental genocide that we call the 19th-century Irish Potato Famine, the Irish patriate James Fintan Lalor wrote : “Somewhere and somehow, and by someone, a beginning must be made, and the first act of resistance is always and must be premature, imprudent and foolish.”

Is there someone, somewhere who can somehow put a stop to this or are we all passengers on a doomed Boeing Max 8?

Peter E. Noel,
St. John’s


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