Is it too much to ask for a little honesty these days? Just once, I want to see a commercial for a new Ford SUV that shows Sadaam Hussein rolling in money, joyfully shouting, “Thank you Americans! Thank you Americans!” Or maybe the next commercial for a gas station could feature the CEO of the oil company using his (purposefully gendered) superior monetary and legal power to stifle the protest of some forest-dwelling South American tribe that doesn’t appreciate the miles of river that have been ruined because of the lack of an enforced cleanup policy.
While that will never happen, all of the news coverage this week of the Greenpeace rally at the Exxon Mobil gas station on US1 and Le Jeune almost made my wish come true. Greenpeace held the rally to protest the giant corporation’s actions regarding global warming. What are those actions, you ask? Well, Exxon Mobil is quite possibly the most formidable of all global warming villains. The corporation has given the most money to lobby against international climate treaties like the Kyoto Protocol, and it refuses to invest in clean energy. Not evil enough for you? Currently, Exxon Mobil also denies that global warming exists and funds phony science to justify its destruction of the environment and our dependence on its fossil fuels.
This protest was scheduled with particularly good timing, especially because this week in Washington the Bush administration held a summit on the state of the environment to decide what action should be taken. And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bush administration’s early actions regarding the environment (if you can call doing nothing an action) make a pretty good case for putting it right up there under Exxon Mobil on the list of villains.
But mudslinging aside, the main question is: what can we do? As Greenpeace undoubtedly knows, corporations like Exxon Mobil have something that is more valuable than the future of humanity or even the environment: money. And as anyone who has a brain undoubtedly knows, money is the proverbial “Get out of jail free” card that places certain corporations in a realm above the law or the government.
It seems in the end that there is only one answer, and it might not be very satisfying. Citizens of America have two great powers: we can decide whom we vote for and how we spend our money. After all, Exxon Mobil has so much money because we buy their gas, and George W. Bush is in office because we voted for him (well technically the popular vote went to Gore, but who needs to get caught up in technicalities?). Hopefully in the future we will be more responsible with our choices.
Travis Atria is a junior majoring in English literature.