Then I got to work and started reading the news on line. Seems there's a Guardian article entitled, "Revealed: how oil giant influenced Bush". Here's how it gets started:
President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian.
The documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month's G8 meeting, reinforce widely-held suspicions of how close the company is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy.
In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.
We can thank Greenpeace for uncovering this information:
Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case."
Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon.
The papers further state that the White House considered Exxon "among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like
Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions".
But in evidence to the UK House of Lords science and technology committee in 2003, Exxon's head of public affairs, Nick Thomas, said: "I think we can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States government or any other government to take any sort of position over Kyoto."
So not only did Exxon have inappropriate influence, they lied about it.
Whatever happened to the concept of conflict of interest???
It makes me almost physically ill to consider that short term profits are considered more important than the survival of the planet as a suitable habitat for living beings. What action can we take? Well, we can give money to environmental protection groups like Greenpeace. We can write letters and make phone calls to our senators and congresspersons. And we can order our lives around conservation and recycling. Let's not lose heart. Let's commit to doing what we can.