top
International
International
Indybay
Indybay
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay
Regions
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
Topics
Newswire
Calendar
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Billionaires Cut: Autopilot to Extinction
by Jill
Monday Apr 19th, 2021 4:49 AM
“A few ultra-wealthy individuals are making decisions about the future of the planet with little accountability or transparency,” according to Matthew Nisbet, a professor of communication and public policy at Northeastern University in Boston.
A glimpse of what the planet would most likely look like, soon!
The future of life and planet Earth: Autopilot to extinction

Two men were incinerated to death after fiery crash in Tesla Model S.

https://twitter.com/MattKHOU/status/1383821809053683721

Authorities said they used 32,000 gallons of water [about 121 metric tonnes] to extinguish the flames because the vehicle’s batteries kept reigniting. At one point, Herman said, deputies had to call Tesla to ask them how to put out the fire in the battery. https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2021/04/18/2-men-dead-after-fiery-tesla-crash-in-spring-officials-say/

WEALTH SURGE: 2,755 billionaires — 660 more than a year ago!! (Forbes)

“… rapid-fire public offerings, surging cryptocurrencies and skyrocketing stock prices . The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755–660 more than a year ago. Of those, a record high 493 were new to the list–roughly one every 17 hours, including 210 from China and Hong Kong. Another 250 who’d fallen off in the past came roaring back. A staggering 86% are richer than a year ago.

“Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest for the fourth year running, worth $177 billion, while Elon Musk rocketed into the number two spot with $151 billion, as Tesla and Amazon shares surged.”

$5 Trillion Richer!!!

“Altogether these billionaires are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion in 2020. The U.S. still has the most, with 724, followed by China (including Hong Kong and Macao) with 698. We used stock prices and exchange rates from March 5 to calculate net worths. See below for the full list of the world’s billionaires and our methodology.”

“A new billionaire was minted every 17 hours on average over the past year. Altogether, the world’s wealthiest are $5 trillion richer than a year ago.

“The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755–660 more than a year ago.

“… these billionaires are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion in 2020. The U.S. still has the most, with 724, followed by China (including Hong Kong and Macao) with 698.” https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/

Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change
https://www.gq.com/story/billionaires-climate-change

“As the world faces environmental disaster on a biblical scale, it’s important to remember exactly who brought us here.

“[In 2018,] the United Nations released a damning report. The short version: We have about 12 years to actually do something to prevent the worst aspects of climate change. That is, not to prevent climate change—we’re well past that point—but to prevent the worst, most catastrophic elements of it from wreaking havoc on the world’s population. To do that, the governments of Earth need to look seriously at the forces driving it. And an honest assessment of how we got here lays the blame squarely at the feet of the 1 percent.

“Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world’s climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.

“There are probably no individuals who have had a more toxic impact on public and political attitudes about climate change than the Koch brothers [the only surviving one of the Four Horsemen is Charles de Ganahl Koch, aged 85] and it would take an absurd amount of space to document all the money and organizations they’ve scraped together for that purpose. (Investigative reporter Jane Mayer’s groundbreaking Dark Money does basically that.) And they have every reason to: In her book, Mayer notes that “Koch Industries alone routinely released some 24 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year.”

“But the scope goes far beyond merely sowing dissent and skepticism. While billionaires and the companies they run have spent years insisting that climate change either doesn’t exist or is overblown, they’ve known the reality of the situation for a long time. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, for example, used to donate to the Seasteading Institute, which aimed to build floating cities in order to counteract rising sea levels. And Exxon Mobil allegedly knew about climate change in 1977, back when it was still just Exxon and about 11 years before climate change became widely talked about. Instead of acting on it, they started a decades-long misinformation campaign. According to Scientific American, Exxon helped create the Global Climate Coalition, which questioned the scientific basis for concern over climate change from the late ’80s until 2002, and successfully worked to keep the U.S. from signing the Kyoto Protocol, a move that helped cause India and China, two other massive sources of greenhouse gas, to avoid signing.”

“Even today, after literally decades of radical libertarian billionaires fostering disbelief in climate change and skepticism about the government, three out of five Americans believe climate change affects their local community. That number climbs to two-thirds on the coasts. […] If popular support actually influenced public policy, there would have been more decisive action from the U.S. government years ago. But the fossil-fuel industry’s interests are too well-insulated by the mountains of cash that have been converted into lobbyists, industry-shilling Republicans and Democrats, and misinformation. To them, the rest of the world is just kindling.”

Why are we waiting for billionaires like Jeff Bezos to save us?
https://grist.org/climate/why-are-we-waiting-for-billionaires-like-bezos-bloomberg-gates-to-save-us/

The downside to billionaires’ good deeds

“The ultra-wealthy are also redefining the agenda, helping to shift power out of the hands of the government and into the hands of the elite. Last year, the Swiss banking giant UBS reported that billionaire philanthropists “are seeking new ways to engineer far-reaching environmental and social change.” So is it now up to the super-rich to decide how to [decide our future?]”

Critics point out the dark side to billionaires’ “good deeds”. “A few ultra-wealthy individuals are making decisions about the future of the planet with little accountability or transparency,” said Matthew Nisbet, a professor of communication and public policy at Northeastern University in Boston. The risk is that people become dependent on billionaire do-gooders, much as in the Victorian era, taking care of the poor was seen as charity, not a fundamental responsibility of government. And even if they’re doing good things now, tycoons can stop or reverse course on a whim.

“[The so-called] Philanthropists tend to approach solving the world’s problems in a way that doesn’t imperil their own fortunes. “[W]hen elites assume leadership of social change, they are able to reshape what social change is, ‘Anand Giridharadas writes in the best-selling Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,’ above all, to present it as something that should never threaten winners.”

The climate movement has a fraught relationship with billionaires. A 2015 Oxfam report showed that the world’s richest 10 percent were responsible for nearly half of global emissions. Many fortunes were built on fossil fuels, starting with John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard Oil, an empire that turned him into America’s first billionaire in 1916. In more recent times, plutocrats like the Koch brothers spent their riches funding groups that have attacked climate science and legislation to rein in emissions.

“What kind of message and signal does it send that the climate movement is now a billionaire movement?” Nisbet asked. Backing from billionaires puts climate groups in an awkward place; after all, many activists want to tax billionaires heavily, break up Big Tech, and y’know, overhaul capitalism as we know it.

“Nisbet argues that the money coming from big foundations and billionaires should be scrutinized, whether it’s from the Kochs or climate-friendly philanthropists. Whereas politicians are held accountable to the electorate, charitable foundations answer to … pretty much no one. ‘Absent the checks and balances of democratic institutions or even the competitive marketplace, who will scrutinize this insulated world’s activities, shining a critical light on its decisions, evaluating its successes and mistakes?’ Nisbet said.”

If you’re thinking “what about journalists?” then prepare yourself for some sobering news. Billionaires also own many of America’s influential media companies, putting reporters in a tough spot when their funders start making the news. When Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, joined hedge-fund magnate Tom Steyer in buying his way into the Democratic presidential primary last year, the thousands of journalists working for Bloomberg News were suddenly banned from investigating him and his Democratic rivals.

“As the richest of the rich accumulate more wealth, more power, and more of the government’s duties (yeah, even space exploration), it’s got people wondering whether America’s democracy is fading into an oligarchy. With the world facing multiple catastrophes and the United States stepping away from a leadership role, our collective fate is increasingly in their hands. If we’re nice, maybe Elon Musk will make some room for us on Mars.”

What is a billionaire’s role in saving the planet?
https://grist.org/ask-umbra/what-is-a-billionaires-role-in-saving-the-planet/

“After all, their companies have contributed a significant chunk of the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis. There are the energy-sucking data centers that made Google founder Sergey Brin and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg so staggeringly wealthy. There’s Apple’s business tactic of planned obsolescence and its requisite cycle of manufacturing and waste. And, of course, there is the consumerist behemoth of Amazon — a kind of combo deal of the above plus objectionable labor practices — which has landed Jeff Bezos at the top of the world’s wealthy list.”

Do tech billionaires’ contributions make up for what they’ve gained via various forms of environmental destruction?

“One can hardly discuss billionaires — or climate change, really — without mention of the original: John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller became the first billionaire in 1916 via the Standard Oil company, the predecessor to Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP. So we all know how that turned out!”

“Or do we? If we want to balance the math of the Rockefeller legacy, we end up with quite a detailed little ledger. Using one analysis of major industrial polluters’ contributions to climate change, one could estimate that the Standard Oil Company was responsible for solidly 9.2 percent of all carbon emissions produced between the start of the Industrial Revolution and today. That’s quite a bit of burden for a single company, and that’s not even tacking on extra points for ExxonMobil’s decades-long awareness and wilful concealment of the science of climate change.”

So what does that mean for the hyper-wealthy tech lords of the world?

“Unlike Rockefeller and Standard Oil, modern-day billionaires aren’t reaping their gratuitous wealth directly from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, which means it’s a bit harder to parse whether they can make up for their role in climate change. Still, Lila Holzman, senior energy program manager for the corporate accountability organization As You Sow, points out uber-rich tech company founders have power to address climate change that extends well beyond their personal checkbooks. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have pretty significant carbon footprints…”
Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!

Donate

donate now

$ 130.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.

Publish

Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network