I suspect, being a progressive bunch, at least a few of us are Star Trek fans. Climate denial is mostly funded by oil company greed and oil company actions are meant to maximize their profits. So, the idea of this series of short (somewhat satirical) articles is that climate change denial will be analyzed under the lens of each stated rule, how it applies, and what we should consider for our strategies to achieve climate victory over oil company greed.
For those who do not know, the Rules of Acquisition are guidelines followed by the fictional Ferengi race, which are obsessed with pure, unadulterated greed (i.e., accumulating wealth at any cost). They would sell their souls for another dollar. If you’re not familiar with Star Trek but are a fan of The Simpsons, imagine a whole race of Mr. Burns.
The first Rule of Acquisition is:
Once you have their money, you never give it back.
Obviously, every business wants your dollars. In exchange for those dollars, they offer you a product or service. Beyond maximizing margins, it tries increase revenue by drumming up demand with advertising, creating new products (or rebadging their current ones), and so forth. And then the ugly underbelly of capitalism rears its head — large corporations unfortunately often resort to bad faith lobbying, buying politicians (who are actually quite cheap), getting laws changed in their favor, begging for subsidies, convincing leaders to turn their backs on malfeasance, and so forth. Money is money and any means, no matter how immoral, is defensible if it leads to more cash in the bank. Ethics are arbitrary when more money at any cost is your north star.
Finally, these fossil businesses are also fighting lawsuits against them for knowingly perpetuating climate change. If they lose, they will not only shed income streams but may still be on the hook for fines or reparations.
Unfortunately, these businesses don’t want to give any money back to society for their malfeasance, and they continue their plundering despite the broad knowledge that what they are doing is destroying our species.
While they are now waking up to the reality that the tides are turning, these fossil businesses are still committed to keeping their ill-gotten gains by attempting to get themselves off the hook for damages they purposely caused in bad faith.
The lesson here is that the people running these companies will do anything for money and we should recognize that they will not go quietly. Regarding what they will try next, an upcoming article has some thoughts, but the important point is that their strategies will evolve as alternatives to fossil fuels gain traction, so we should think ahead to predict their moves and have defenses ready for the increasingly unhinged escalations that are coming.
The next rule is: Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to. Coming soon.