mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author

mark


The Profits of Global Warming

Denial can get expensive. Just think back to the oil shock
of 1973. Despite soaring gas prices, auto executives insisted that
American consumers would never drive smaller cars. So, the Japanese
got busy and eventually grabbed half of the US market.

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Today, its denial of global warming thats threatening US jobs and
profits. Global warming is transforming the business risks and
opportunities facing every company in the world.

Toyota and Honda are far ahead in hybrid car sales. And US firms are
losing out in other sectors too. Our solar and wind power
manufacturers once led the world. Now, we trail the Germans, Danes,
and even the Spanish.

In February, the E-U, not the U-S, signed a memorandum of
understanding with China that could lead to billions of dollars in
trade deals for a new generation of carbon-neutral power plants.

Most American business leaders still don’t get what’s hit them. But
its not entirely their fault.

For fifteen years, Exxon Mobil and other companies spent millions to
promote scientific uncertainty about global warming. They did it by
funding contrarian scientists, lobbyists and PR outfits. Media
outlets like the Wall Street Journal did the rest.

The deniers borrowed their tactics, and even their scientists, from
the tobacco industry. In the 1980s former National Academy of
Sciences president Frederick Seitz directed a $45 million research
program for R. J. Reynolds that deliberately ignored the health
effects of smoking. In the 1990s, Seitz became a leading global
warming denier, a stance he says reflected his scientific judgment.

Exxon’s PR campaign ended up hurting not only the environment but
other US companies and their global competitiveness.

Foreign firms are winning the green technology race in large part
because their governments, unlike Washington, take global warming
seriously.

The US can do the same. But first it must reject the denials pedaled
by defenders of a status quo that cannot last.


Mark Hertsgaard is the environmental correspondent for The
Nation. His article on global warming, While
Washington Slept
,
appeared in Vanity Fair’s May 2006 “green issue”.

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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.

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