Opinion: Hold the Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable For Climate Disasters

Christopher Shanks

The fossil fuel industry is responsible for the climate disasters that are increasingly rocking the United States.

From freezes in Texas to wildfires on the West Coast and devastating hurricanes across the South and the Atlantic, these tragedies are the predictable results of the deliberate actions of greedy and callous corporations. It is time that we hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for these catastrophes.

The Villain in Each Story is the Same

In each of these stories, the same villain is present. The fossil fuel industry knowingly pollutes our air and water, pumps our environment full of greenhouse gases, and opposes renewable energy, even though they know they are killing people and making others sick. Politicians who take industry donations and refuse to pass the regulations or climate legislation to protect citizens are also complicit in these crimes.

Climate Disasters Are Not “Natural”

When a crime occurs, reporters and politicians are quick to say who did it and how, and these cases often dominate discussions and coverage during legislative sessions and elections. We should treat climate disasters the same way. Reporters, elected officials, and we as voters should give these events and communities the outrage they deserve.

Fossil Fuel Industry’s Predatory Behavior in Vulnerable Communities

The fossil fuel industry’s willingness to jeopardize the health and safety of vulnerable communities is on constant display. A recent example of this is in East Palestine, Ohio, where a train derailed, pouring toxic chemicals into the air and water. The media barely touched on one major cause of this monumental catastrophe — the fossil fuel industry. In southwest Detroit, an oil refinery that abuts a community that is 71% Black, put out more climate pollution than is produced by 100,000 homes.

Race and Poverty a Major Factor

Race and poverty are the primary reasons reporters, elected officials, and the voting public fail to name or hold responsible the culprits in these climate disasters. Time and again, the people who suffer the most from our destructive climate policy are people of color and those who live below the poverty line — people who have fewer resources to demand answers, accountability and change.

Hold the Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable

It is time to stop pretending and giving the fossil fuel industry a free pass. We must give these events and communities the outrage they deserve and start talking about what happened in these places and who did it until the right corporations and politicians are held accountable and the full extent of the damage is recognized. Only then can we start to slow down the planet’s warming and the disasters harming our health.





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