Planet vs. profit: The impact of major corporations on climate change
December 15, 2021
When a conversation starts to dry out, the question “How’s the weather?” never ceases to fail. However, the usual “really nice” has transitioned into “It’s unusually warm for December”. New Jersey, which typically has cold winters and strong blizzards, is currently undergoing a warm spell that is on track to make the record book for one of the warmest Decembers. Climate change, closely related to global warming, has made a more increasing presence as years go on. The volatile climate and rise in temperature can no doubt be attributed to the emission of pollutants from major companies.
A report from the CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) in 2017 found that 71% of carbon emissions since 1988 were released into the atmosphere by only 100 fossil fuel extraction companies. These carbon emissions are a type of greenhouse gas that contributes to the rapid warming of the Earth and the deterioration of ecosystems. Other companies have dumped tons of waste and other pollutants into the ocean which have harmed marine life and the drinking water we intake. To these major company CEOs, profit dominates over public welfare every time. Although the argument for maximizing profit is twisted by CEOs into pushing a narrative that eliminating oil use would push 2 billion people into poverty, the opportunity for those same companies to transition into the clean and renewable energy industry to provide jobs, refutes that claim. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson had even commented “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” These company CEOs assume government positions and influence how loose the companies are regulated, including environmental policies, and even education. Companies push for a biased education focusing on the fossil fuel industry in social studies, economic, and civic classes. These circumstances make it more necessary than ever to make our voices heard and demands met.
Fortunately, many companies have made strides to become part of the solution. According to a new report called “Taking Stock: A global assessment of net zero targets”, at least one-fifth of the world’s largest companies have committed to net zero emissions targets. These companies include Ford Motor Company and American Airlines. They pledge to not add new emissions to the atmosphere, and they can do so by reducing emissions or using forests or oceans to absorb the new emissions. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and aims to be carbon-free by 2030. Now, they are pioneering a new recycled alloy for their products which aligns with their mission statement to “continue to innovate ways to make our operations more sustainable, inspiring others to follow”. However, will these combined efforts be made in time though before the damages are reversible?
While companies contribute the most to the endangerment of our planet, we, on an individual level, can make efforts too to sustain an eco-friendly lifestyle and press for lawmakers to regulate the conduct of the companies. We have no Planet B.