Oil Companies Invest in Climate Change Aid

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Oil Companies Invest in Climate Change Aid

Abby Collins, Staff Writer

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In the past, the topic of climate change has raised controversy and questions. However, it is difficult to deny the logical discoveries that are being made each day by intelligent minds. Climate change is based off of scientific proof that the earth’s climate is gradually warming, as a result of climbing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. When solar radiation enters our atmosphere, some is reflected back into space, while some of the radiation is trapped in by greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide). Therefore, greenhouse effect maintains earth’s optimal climate, yet this process has been disrupted.

As carbon dioxide levels have increased since the Industrial Revolution, an excess of solar radiation is being trapped inside the atmosphere.  The rampant emission of carbon dioxide does occur from some natural sources, but according to the EPA, the largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions is attributed to a single human-induced activity: fossil fuel extraction and use. Over millions of years, humanity has released stored carbon from fossil fuels into the atmosphere. As this alarming fact is spreading rapidly through the media, humans are realizing the dangers that oil companies impose on climate; therefore, customers are seeking safer options and are pushing these companies to make “clean” changes.  

In an effort to respond to demands of the people, “Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and the Australian mining giant BHP this year have invested in Carbon Engineering, a small Canadian company that claims to be on the verge of a breakthrough in solving a critical climate change puzzle: removing carbon already in the atmosphere” (Krauss). In short, Carbon Engineering plans to use “direct-air-capture” technology. This innovation involves the use of fans to pull in atmospheric air and bind hydroxide with carbon dioxide to form a carbonate solution. Next, calcium carbonate is broken down by heat and releases pure carbon dioxide gas that can be injected back underground or used to make “synthetic fuel that can be processed processed into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel” (Krauss). An idea such as this has potential to reverse the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions by oil companies.

While it seems reassuring that corporations are investing in such technologies, critics are left skeptical of the companies’ motivation. Some believe that Carbon Engineering could play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, but the investments being made mimic a concept called greenwashing. Greenwashing is often practiced by companies who seek to adopt a “green” reputation. They publicize certain actions, solely to portray an image that their business is more environmentally friendly than they actually are. It does not take much education to realize that oil companies are negatively impacting the environment, yet it is easy for outsiders to see these investments and label the company as one that cares deeply about the environment. In reality, corporations may be investing money into helping environmental issues simply to save their reputation and their business. Besides, it was revealed that the amount of money that the companies invested is minuscule when you compare it to their massive riches. Therefore, some believe that it is more of a public relations stunt; if the corporations genuinely cared, they would invest more money into it. The issue of climate change is extremely serious, but are the contributors to the problem truly serious about fixing it?

 

 

Krauss, Clifford. “Blamed for Climate Change, Oil Companies Invest in Carbon Removal.” The New York Times, Apr. 2019.
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Abby Collins, Staff Writer

Abby Collins is a sophomore and first time journalism student at Northgate. She is a member of the cross country team and the swim team, serves weekly...

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Oil Companies Invest in Climate Change Aid