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Why Exxon Executives Deserve the Ultimate Punishment

Why Exxon Executives Deserve the Ultimate Punishment

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On October 16, 1946, shortly after the conclusion of the Nuremberg Trials, ten prominent members of the political and military leadership of Nazi Germany were marched to the gallows. Some of the former elite Nazis did not die quickly of an intended broken neck but strangled slowly. Since the trapdoor was too small, several of the condemned suffered bloody head injuries when they hit its sides while falling through.

What sort of grisly sentence shall we impose on the masters of the great capitalist carbon-industrial complex for their efforts to exterminate human (and other forms of) life by the turning the planet into a giant Greenhouse Gas chamber? The Nazis, to be sure, to be sure, killed in the tens of million, including six million Jews murdered with explicit genocidal intent. (The Allies and the U.S. also committed monumental war crimes, including the appalling atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). But anthropogenic – really capitalogenic – global warming threatens to end the human experiment altogether. Exterminist Ecocide is hard to beat when it comes to criminality.

“Oh,” one defense of the corporate Greenhouse Gassers runs, “but nobody really knew about the danger to life posed by the rapacious drilling and burning of fossil fuels until quite recently.”

Wrong. The story of climate change and the oil corporations is very much like the story of lung cancer and the big tobacco firms. Millions of Americans – including both of my parents – grew up convinced that it was okay to smoke cigarettes for years only to learn later that tobacco products were highly lethal. Their understanding of that terrible fact was tragically set back by a tobacco industry that worked for decades to knowingly obstruct the truth with a spurious message of scientific uncertainty and by advertisements that presented cigarettes as a sign and even source of healthy vitality. The tobacco companies made these commercials with full knowledge of the medical research showing that science showed that cigarettes were sending millions to early graves

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