Greedy Lying Bastards: Exposing The Fossil Fools Who Put Profit Before Human Lives


One of the few-and-far-between perks of being a climate blogger is that occasionally I get access to books and movies before the general public does. This past weekend I got to watch “Greedy Lying Bastards” before it hit movie screens across the U.S. on Monday. Sunday night I, along with some fellow Citizens Climate Lobby volunteers, got together to watch this 90 minute documentary. This movie exposes the American fossil fuel interests that have been blocking action on climate change for decades, taking a page – and some of the same PR firms and lobbyists – right out of the tobacco companies’ playbook.  Like the tobacco lobby, these fossil fools have opposed government action on the science showing their product is harmful and have actively disseminated lies about the science.

After the movie, I surveyed group members for their responses; we all gave it 10 out of 10 for its topic, but for actual delivery the movie was rated between 6 to 8 out of 10.

Some of the comments were:

“I really appreciated the whistle-blowing, the naming of names. I also really appreciated first-hand accounts of people in the U.S. who are already suffering the consequences of climate change.”

“I haven’t watched a documentary about this topic before, and really appreciated the great graphics. They made the connections for me.”

Two viewers had recently watched “The Age of Stupid” and felt that it spelled out the greed and petro-corruption as well as the consequences of inaction on climate change more clearly than did GLB.

I enjoyed the movie. Of course as a climate hawk I’m thrilled that this corruption and interference in democracy is receiving more attention at this critical juncture in the planet’s history, and for that I want to give a big shout-out to writer and director Scott Rosebraugh and producer Darryl Hannah. Compared to “Age of Stupid” which totally overwhelmed and depressed me and my companion, GLB left me riled up and ready to fight back at these soulless corporate monsters. One critique I have is that the movie ended with a whimper. Rosebraugh offers – in 60 seconds – four actions for people to take in response to the information they’ve just heard (possibly for the first time). It’s not that the actions mentioned (boycotting Exxon & Koch products, asking your Congressional representatives to take action to curb greenhouse gases, “joining the campaign” to stop fossil fuel subsidies and campaigning to overturn Citizens United) aren’t important, they are but to spend 89 minutes of the movie focused on the fossil fools who are destroying U.S. democracy as well as our children’s future without giving viewers more information on taking action may well foster more futility and despair. And, frankly, just signing a petition or writing a letter to your congressperson isn’t going to cut it at this point. The movie doesn’t give enough specifics on responses; the shocking amount of fossil fuel subsidies companies are given every year ($4 Billion in the United States, $775 Billion globally) isn’t even mentioned even while people are encouraged to get active on this issue. To move people from outrage to action, more information and empowerment is necessary. For example, viewers should know that there are governments (Australia, and the Canadian province of British Columbia) who have enacted a tax on carbon pollution, one of the first actions that governments can take to counter the fossil fuel stranglehold on our democracies and our economies.There are groups like and Citizens Climate Lobby (to name the ones I’m most familiar with) who are working to mobilize people at the grassroots; these important resources are not mentioned in the movie or on the movie’s “take action” website. This silo mentality is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to climate action, so I would beg the fine people involved in GLB and its website to expand their resources and “take action” focus. For that reason I would give the movie a ranking of 7.5 out of 10. Having said that, get out and watch the movie if it’s showing in a theatre near you, and take some friends with you.

For my part as a Canadian, I’d like to add a few more GLBs to the rogues’ gallery compiled by Rosebraugh:

Tim Ball worked as a professor of geography at the University of Winnipeg for eight years between 1988 and 1996. I am personally offended by Mr. Ball because not only did he work at my alma mater, and employed a family member for several years as his research assistant, he has been quoted back to me by acquaintances of mine from rural Manitoba where he’s gone on paid lecturing junkets. I hear that he can be very persuasive, and he’s told these good people that climate change is nothing to worry about (“the climate has always changed”), and so they don’t worry, even while this inaction puts their children’s future at risk. He even lies about his credentials – in this 2007 movie that purports to debunk climate science, you can see he’s identified as being from a department that never existed, in the university that he left 11 years earlier. Now that’s what I call a GLB!



And this Canadian GLB gallery wouldn’t be complete without a portrait of our current prime minister, Stephen Harper, son (spawn? LOL) of an Imperial Oil employee who went on to work for the oil company himself. Harper and his party’s ties to Big Oil are well-documented and are clearly playing themselves out in the current federal government’s policy decisions (see Murray Dobbin’s “Stephen Harper and the Big Oil Party of Canada, or DesmogBlog’s new series, Blame Canada).





More links:

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog: Greedy Lying Bastards: A Movie Review

Washington Post: Greedy Lying Bastards: Movie Review Take Action

Naomi Klein: Do The Math, The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Destroying Our Future

Naomi Klein was out in the shattered neighbourhood of Rockaway Park Queens last weekend, participating in the Occupy relief efforts there. In this interview she underscores the importance of both increasing local resilience as a response to our changing climate and addressing the fossil fuel industry’s business model directly. As’s Do The Math campaign makes clear, the fossil fuel industry’s business plan will destroy the planet. Bill McKibben reminded the “Do The Math”audience in Seattle this month that the global warming math is quite simple: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2 degrees of warming. Anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, 5Xs the safe amount. And they are planning to burn it all, unless we rise up & stop them.



Also on the ground in Rockaway, “Power Rockaways Resilience is working to rebuild homes with power that will be prepared for future natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. “Not only will these homes be safer against these disasters, but they can be more sustainable and greener.” Read more.

IEA Acknowledges Fossil Fuel Reserves Climate Crunch

Fossil Fuel Industry’s Bottom Line Will Destroy Our Climate: Do The Math

Wednesday night was one to remember. After a scramble to get my passport renewed (I only noticed last week it had expired), my husband and I traveled by ferry from Victoria B.C to take in the first night of Bill McKibben’s “Do The Math” tour in Seattle. McKibben and his team are traveling by bio-diesel-fueled bus to 21 cities across the U.S., taking the fight to preserve a stable climate to the next level. The Seattle venue, Benaroya Hall, was spectacular, and held 1,600 people. It was full, as you can see from the picture below. I’d love to point us out in the crowd, but we were at the front on the left, so aren’t in the picture at all!


The event was well worth the effort and the expense. McKibben spoke frankly about the odds we are looking at in the fight to preserve a stable climate (in case you were in doubt, they are not good). Climate change is an existential threat, there’s no doubt about it. The message of the “Do The Math” tour is one that McKibben first outlined in an article in Rolling Stone this summer. If we are to keep global temperature rise to two degrees Celcius or lower – and even at .8 of a degree rise globally we are seeing alarming events like methane bubbling in the permafrost, and massive summer arctic sea ice loss – we must put no more than 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Right now, the fossil fuel industry has, as its business plan, the emission of 2795 gigatons of carbon dioxide; in other words, more than five times more coal, oil and gas than scientists say we can safely burn. McKibben emphasized that this makes Big Oil, Coal, and Gas a rogue industry, one whose financial success is dependent on wrecking the climate and our children’s future. We are, McKibben reminded the audience, the last generation of people with an opportunity to stop catastrophic climate change; the last generation before it’s too late.




Do The Math launches a new focus for and the climate movement, modeled on the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign of the 1980s. Students and alumni of colleges and universities across the country are being asked to pressure their universities and colleges to pull out all fossil fuel investments. Unity College in Maine became the first American college to do so. It won’t be the last.


For more information, check out the campaign’s website,  And if you live anywhere near one of the Do The Math events, make the effort to get out and listen to what Mr McKibben has to say, and then act on it. The eyes of the future are on all of us right here, right now, asking us to do the right thing.


Dirty Energy Produces Dirty Weather & Dirty Politics

Casy answered him. “It’s ever’body,” he said. “Here’s me that used to give all my fight against the devil ’cause I figgered the devil was the enemy. But they’s somepin worse’n the devil got a hold a the country, an’ it ain’t gonna let go till it’s chopped loose. Ever see one a them Gila monsters take hold, mister? Grabs hold, an’ you chop him in two an’ his head hangs on. Chop him at the neck an’ his head hangs on. Got to take a screw-driver an’ pry his head apart to git him loose. An’ while he’s layin’ there, poison is drippin’ an’ drippin’ into the hole he’s made with his teeth.”

John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath


Summer of 2012: North Americans Begin to Harvest Climate Chaos They’ve Sown

A friend and newly graduated family physician told us a story about a young man who came to his clinic for medical advice. The young man was having a hard time adjusting to being away from home for the first time, and to his first full-time job, and was considering quitting and returning home. Our friend’s advice to this young man was to take two “man-up” pills every morning, and hang in there for a while longer.

I’m not going to comment on the medical validity of this advice, but it does seem to me that it’s good advice for all of us in North America these days. We are starting to reap what we’ve sown, with our callous disregard of the ecosystem that gives us life. Human beings need clean water, clean air, and a stable climate to thrive, and we’ve put all of these in peril with our burning of fossil fuels and our political apathy. Our relentless search for harder and harder to access oil has led to mountain tops being blasted off for coal, the poisoning of our aqueducts to frack for natural gas, and the destruction of the Canadian boreal forests in search of bitumen from tar sands. It’s hard to accept responsibility for this – we all love our children and work tirelessly to keep them safe in the short-term. Yet it’s time for parents and grandparents to take two “man-up” pills each and every morning, and to actively work to salvage a livable climate and planet for future generations. It’s our inter-generational responsibility, our “Great Work”. Hopelessness, apathy and cynicism are luxuries our children cannot afford.



Not sure how to respond? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby, The Transition Network, or  the Post Carbon Institute, or go to my Action not Apathy page.

More links:

Global Drought Monitor

Actions Speak Louder Than Words As Earth First! Shuts Down Gas Drilling in Western PA

COP 17 in Durban – Day 1

Today is the first day of the U.N. climate talks in Durban South Africa. As I wrote earlier, many people’s expectations (including mine) for a meaningful and binding international climate treaty coming out of these 10 days is low. It seems, sadly, that unbridled capitalism will triumph over humanity’s need for clean water, clean air, and a stable climate. The Alberta-based Pembina Institute put it this way:

Comparing the frustratingly slow pace of international negotiations on climate change against the ever-increasing urgency of climate-change science, it is hard to be optimistic. The level of ambition currently being demonstrated puts the world on track for irreversible and catastrophic climate change.

I recently heard someone say “Power is power.” Imagine if we lived in a world where everyone, whether they are an African living in remotest Sudan or a Pakistani in the highest Karakoram mountain or a New Yorker in Manhattan, could put up a solar panel or wind turbine to run their laptop or power their schools. Citizens of the world could get around without lining the pockets of Big Oil and Gas, as they rely on electric cars, or e-bikes, or accessible public transport. Parents wouldn’t need to be the gate-keepers of toxins to protect their children from poisons in the food they eat or the air they breathe, as sustainability becomes the norm in agriculture and industry as well as transportation, and clean water and air become the standard around the world rather than the exception.

The fossil fuel industry recognized several decades ago, before most environmentalists and certainly before most politicians (who still don’t get it), that a fundamental paradigm shift is required to address the climate crisis, and this shift threatens these corporations’ bottom line. They are fighting for their lives, and fighting dirty; and they don’t care about the lives of the most vulnerable or about our children’s future.

Christiana Figueres, who replaced Yvo de Boer as head of the U.N. climate secretariat in 2010, said Sunday the stakes for the COP17 negotiations are high, underscored by new scientific studies. Figueres said under discussion at COP17 was: “nothing short of the most compelling energy, industrial, behavioral revolution that humanity has ever seen.

As investigative reporter William Marsden said on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning, it’s time to bring the science to the table, and let the science, not politics and the fossil fuel industry, dictate what should be done. Yet the industrialized nations, the big emitters, have been increasingly ignoring the science and muzzling scientists. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Association has said that the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average temperature increases of 3.5 C, and called for immediate action because if the world’s energy infrastructure isn’t changed by 2017 CO2 emissions will be locked in and catastrophic climate change will be set in motion.

Where are the parents, who should be in the streets demanding our governments take the science seriously and protect our children’s future?  It’s time for parents and grandparents, as well as young people, to get noisy and get active. Otherwise, we’re facing mutually assured destruction.

Suggestions For Immediate Actions:

The Council of Canadians has an action for Canadians to send a message to the European Union to uphold the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which labels tar sands oil as a high carbon, and encourages suppliers to reduce emissions and promotes the use of cleaner fuels over dirty fuels. For details on how to send a message of support for this clean fuel policy, go to the Council’s Action Alert page.

Join Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonprofit non-partisan international group focused on creating the political will for a sustainable climate and empowering individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. Dr. James Hansen said at the Keystone XL Pipeline protests:

“Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new,  fast growing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 35 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

CCL has introductory calls on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month, contact me at or email Or check out their websites:

Citizens Climate Lobby International

Citizens Climate Lobby Canada

Whatever you chose to do, the important thing is to do something. For those of us who have a future generation depending on us, doing nothing isn’t an option any more.

Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, U.S. Republicans Step Back In Time

With the announcement yesterday of a new carbon tax proposal, Australia is set to become the world leader on addressing climate change. Right now, Australia leads the world in per-capita carbon pollution. The carbon tax, which has been described as “modest, riddled with exclusions, bribing voters and corporations“, is still the best national carbon plan in the world. It is expected to pass in both houses of parliament before the end of the year, but the Conservative opposition and the Australian coal industry seem determined to whip up public sentiment against the carbon tax (remember, Australia is where climate scientists have been receiving death threats and über-denier Monckton is invited back regularly ). Right now, polls indicate 60% of the population is opposed to carbon pricing, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government is the most unpopular in 40 years. A lot is riding on the government’s ability to convince voters that it’s time to tackle climate change.

In the meantime, closer to home, U.S. Republicans, bowing to their tea party members, are set today to repeal legislation that promotes energy-efficient light bulbs, one that was signed into law by none other than President George W. Bush and is now embraced by industry. Sounds like the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Washington these days!

More Links:

Australia Carbon Tax Modest Beginning

Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, Unveils Sweeping Carbon Plan

Climate Scientists Angered By Denier’s Death Threat Campaign

Republicans Defend “Personal Liberty” in Fight To Ban Energy-Saving Lightbulbs

Carbon Fee and Dividend: Building a Green Economy

Who Are The Real Fear Mongers?

This week, this blog has been visited by some  fossil-fuel lovin’, pro-pollution and anti-science folks who accuse the scientists sounding the alarm about our rapidly warmly planet of “fear-mongering”.  It really is amusing, but for the fact that there are so many of these folks, often funded by those with deep pockets and a vested stake in the fossil fuel industry (see “Manufactured Ignorance” in the American Scientist, and more links below) accusing other people of doing what they, indeed, do at every opportunity. As Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway’s book Merchants of Doubt  points out,  one of the key patterns of the anti-climate science folks is to accuse other people of doing what they do – they misrepresent the scientific evidence, they take data out of context,  they attack the reputations of distinguished scientists, and then they accuse everyone else of doing exactly what they have done.

These funded folks flood the public commentary of any article related to climate science with their anti-science nonsense, and then expect to be given equal time on blogs as well.  If not, they cry foul.  Although they represent a position that is not held by virtually any working climate scientist or any working public health official, they have very successfully pressured the mainstream media into presenting this issue inaccurately as if there are two equal and balanced sides.  These people learned their skills during the tobacco industry’s campaign against the science linking health effects to smoking, and they are honing them in the anti-climate science push.

However, as I make clear in my comment policy, this blog is not a place to debate the science of a warming atmosphere and a global increase in temperatures.  That science is settled.  As I point out, the urgency of the situation commands an “all hands on deck” response, not bickering about the size of the iceberg that has just hit our Titanic as we sink, taking our children and grandchildren’s future with us.  For clarity, I am reposting part of my comment policy here:

In keeping with the critical urgency of this situation, comments that argue that climate change is not happening, that CO2 is good for us, that Al Gore isn’t a scientist (we all know this!!), that as a meteorologist/geologist/etc. you know better than the IPCC and every National Academy of Science, humans are too insignificant to cause climate change, and so on, will be deleted without comment. If you are high on the credibility spectrum – that is, you are a publishing scientist – and you are quoting from a legitimate peer-reviewed source, and you have something to say about the science of climate change, then your comments will be posted. Referencing other blogs DOES NOT count!

Lest I be accused of conspiracy, let me say now that yes, I definitely AM part of a conspiracy. A conspiracy to keep planet earth habitable for humanity. I’m part of a conspiracy to sign a survival, NOT a suicide pact. I would LOVE for climate change to be just a theory. I would love to eat, play, and love without the ever-present knowledge that we are all about to step over a precipice from which we can never return.

As far as credibility spectrum goes, Roger, anybody with an economics degree (I have a brother with one) doesn’t have any, unless it is economics that they are commenting on.  And even then, a bachelor’s degree in economics is a pretty generic kind of thing to boast about – now if you had a Ph.D. in economics, your credibility on statements concerning economics would greatly increase, but not your comments on climate science.  As for generic ranters who make statements like “I am making sure everyone I speak to knows about the Cap & Trade Tax Scam that is going to be FORCED on us IF they vote for NDP, Liberal or Green”, well, clearly, that’s not fear-mongering at all! LOL.

And, for the record, Missy, I agree that Cap-and-Trade isn’t going to stop carbon pollution.  It is going to be used by industry to line their own pockets, not benefit the planet.  What we need is a fee and dividend system that places a fee on carbon where it is first produced, and then distributes that fee evenly among a province’s or nation’s citizens. As Joe Robertson explains in Building a Green Economy: The Economics of Pricing Carbon and the Transition to Clean, Renewable Fuels:

Putting a price on carbon creates a contextual incentive for diversification and innovation in the energy economy. When Germany shifted its tax-base from income to energy, it spurred a decade of aggressive public and private investment in renewable resources. In just four years, it became the world leader in clean energy export, taking 70% of the world market just eight years after the initial policy shift.

German firms are driving investments of €400 billion in the Desertec solar project in North Africa, part of a plan to connect two continents via multi-gigawatt undersea transmission cables and advanced smart-grid technology. The project will revolutionize the energy sector in Europe and Africa, creating wealth for businesses and communities large and small. Morocco, for instance, plans to use its desert and mountain terrain, as well as its wind-intensive coastal areas, to generate enough renewable energy to become an export leader for the European market. This model can be duplicated in mountainous, desert-rich and coastal states across the U.S.

But as for taking these folks seriously, one doesn’t have to read “Climate Cover-up” or “Merchants Of Doubt” to find out about how vested interests are trying to skew the public debate on climate change and other issues that threaten people on the right of the political spectrum.  Early on in our federal election campaign, some ads started showing up on Craig’s list – I snapped a photo of one before it disappeared 24 hours later.  It’s difficult to read, but here’s what it says:

Writers needed to post right-wing comments to social media and news outlets.

We are a social media company working for a political organization, hired to balance the left-wing of the major media outlets by supplying a team of writers who will post to newspaper comments, media forums, Facebook pages, etc.

Your writing must be strong, right-wing, and use the supplied talking points without being bogged down in too much detail. You are creating an on-line persona with a consistent tone. Ideally you can find or construct facts and statistics to stir controversy. Where suited humour is welcome.

You are a news junky who is able to log on to news forums and Facebook pages several times a day. You are able to write comments tailored to new topics while repeating key talking points.

So, it’s clear that we can’t take these folks – and their mock outrage at the suppression of dissent – too seriously, as they and their friends are in the process of undermining the very foundation of free speech and democracy by being paid lackeys to an amoral industry. They are trying to manufacture doubt on scientific fact, and conjure up fear of non-polluting and renewable clean energy. The truth will win out in the end – but will it be too late for our children and grandchildren to be able to avoid global climate instability and all its implications?  As Paul Hawken says in Blessed Unrest, there is a huge, unprecedented global movement for democracy and human rights gathering steam right now, a planetary immune response to the threats to the earth and her children. This quote from Mahatma Ghandi seems appropriate to end with:

Truth is by nature self-evident, as soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.

More links:

Manufactured Ignorance

How The War On Science Works – And How To Respond

An Interview with author Naomi Oreskes, on Merchants of Doubt