The Arsonists of Fort McMurray have a name

Martin Lukacs has a great piece in the Guardian today – the best analysis on the causes and next steps for the Fort Mac fires (largest natural disaster in Canada's history) that we’ve seen. The fossil fuel industry, bolstered by a track record of impunity from huge damages to communities and the environment, continues business as usual while the rest of us blame each other and "karma" for the devastation it caused.

The devastation of Fort McMurray is the predictable outcome of arson on an entirely different scale.

These arsonists have a name and they’re hiding in plain view—because their actions, at the moment, are still considered legal. They’re the companies that helped turn the boreal forest into a flammable tinder-box. The same companies that have undermined attempts to rein in carbon emissions. The same companies that, by their very design, chase profits with no mind for the ecological and human consequences.

Yet in the fire’s aftermath, it has seemed impossible to name them: fossil fuel corporations. Of course they’re not the only ones who have fuelled climate change: all of us consume oil at every level of our lives. But the record is clear that we are not equally responsible: an astonishing 90 companies alone have caused two-thirds of global carbon emissions. And all the oil giants involved in the Alberta tar sands are among them: ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, CNRL, Chevron.

The age of large-scale legal action to make polluters pay is just around the corner. She's huffing and puffing a bit from all the wildfire smoke, but when she arrives she will be people-powered and unstoppable. Stay tuned.

 

By Anjali Appadurai