We Shouldn’t Be Downplaying Global Warming: How Capitalism Contributed to Dismissing Climate Science

The statement that climate science is too new to be a reliable field of study is flat-out wrong. As we see in the Swartz and Reidy articles, climate science is a fairly old field of study. It’s no secret that the Earth is warming itself up at an alarming rate thanks to an excess of carbon dioxide, but that knowledge has been known for well over 150 years thanks to the experiments with air Eunice Foote performed that lead to the discovery of greenhouse gases (Swartz article). We also can thank John Tyndall for his work contributing to the science behind greenhouse gases (Reidy article). Unfortunately, whether it be because of Foote’s gender and amateur status or Tyndall’s wife being unable to publish his works after he died, climate science wasn’t really give too much thought until more recently when industries such as the coal industry and companies such as ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) realized that burning fossil fuels led to an increase in carbon dioxide (Garver and Hall articles). However, this realization came around the 1960’s and 70’s with the general consensus of global warming being widely accepted happening in the late 80’s.

You may be thinking, “Why hasn’t anything been done to stop these environmental and climate problems?” The answer is capital. In the case of ExxonMobil, their business is gas and other fossil fuels to be sold for consumption. However, if the population begins to get concerned about the harmful amounts of CO2, that means to Exxon that their profits will go down, so they try to either downplay the situation or just flat out deny reality to make sure profits and capital still come in. In order to further ensure they will earn profits, they will hire scientists that’ll prove their claims which governments will take as true. We see this happening with Exxon’s Global Climate Coalition preventing the US, China, and India (which are nations that pollute Earth the most) from signing the Kyoto Protocol. 

2 thoughts on “We Shouldn’t Be Downplaying Global Warming: How Capitalism Contributed to Dismissing Climate Science

  1. I really agree with a lot of your arguments as to why and how global warming has direct links to the capitalism that is so prominent in our country. As you mentioned, just because we had made these warming conclusions over a century and a half ago, the recognition was lacking and society was unable to take note. The most important form of recognition is educating the public on these issues and what causes them. Otherwise the population will continue to buy from companies whose production emits large amounts of CO2 as well as continue to vote for those who do not prioritize policy emplacement restricting emission.

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  2. I think that you did a good job of hitting the core of the issues at hand with the discovery of climate change and the development of the science. Your argument is well grounded in that it acknowledged the circumstances that led to Tyndall and Foote’s scientific discoveries not receiving the recognition and publicity that they deserved. It gave reasons in which climate science and the idea of climate change wasn’t developed more, leading into the invalid reasons that Exxon had not to share their research findings. I agree that core of the issue with climate change is capitalism, and that capitalistic values will have to be dismissed in order to truly face climate change.

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