At first glance, it is hardly surprising that oil companies and the like fund efforts to debunk the science on climate change. It’s in their interests to do so, right? Just as it was in the interests of tobacco companies to try to debunk the evidence of links between smoking and cancer.
But then you think, hang on, don’t oil executives have children and grandchildren, the same as the rest of us?
This is something more complex than cynical self-interest. It’s a deep category error. Climate change is being seen as an essentially political threat, a thing to be outmanoeuvred, fobbed off, discredited, or managed through spin and symbolic placation. There’s a failure to understand that this isn’t about interest groups, it isn’t about the politics of left versus right. It’s about air, and water, and ice.
“Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings,” Canute is supposed to have said, when the tide refused to obey his command to stop, and began to wash around his feet.