• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How Fossil Fuels Pollute STEM Education

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has a message for policy makers: “Listen to the scientists.”

As an engineer, I was glad to hear that. But I also believe it’s also vital for scientists to be vigilant about whom they listen to.

For years, corporations funded junk science trying to undermine the climate consensus. Now, virtually all scientists agree that fossil fuels are heating the planet, so corporations are taking a new tack: peddling false solutions.

The fossil fuel industry has polluted not just our water, air, and soil, but our education system as well — especially the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. By 2015, for the first time in history, the private sector was investing moremoney in scientific research than the federal government.

This is not a coincidence. It’s a strategy.

According to the Center for International Environmental Law, fossil fuel corporations have been collaborating with prestigious academic institutions to push research away from the root causes of climate change (like fossil fuel use) and towards fake solutions like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

CCS is a form of geoengineering that can sound ecologically friendly. It aims at developing technology that would “capture” excess carbon from the atmosphere, or from fossil fuel plants, and store it in the ground.

CCS has a big caveat: It means fossil fuel plants stay open instead of closing. And even worse, the captured carbon can then be used in dangerous drilling methods like fracking. According to researchers, CCS could increase the production of oil in the U.S. alone by an additional 923 million barrels by 2040.

In other words, CCS means more carbon emissions and more ecological destruction.

Fossil fuel companies love to fund CCS projects. Exxon Mobil alone has invested $1.25 billion in STEM programs since 2000. The company says it has collaborated with 80 universities around the world, pushing false solutions like CCS into the minds of young scientists and engineers.

Other polluting industries love the technology, too.

The New York Times reports that Lynda and Steward Resnick, the billionaire owners of the company that owns Fiji water, donated $750 million to the California Institute of Technology to further “environmental study, much of it focused on technological solutions to combat climate change” — like CCS.

The bottled water industry, of course, is a massive consumer of petrochemicals like plastic.

These initiatives seek to delude young scientists that climate change can be solved by technology alone, rather than addressing root causes — like an economic system that rewards greed and pollution.

Don’t get me wrong. We do need to find ways to capture excess carbon in the atmosphere. Personally, I support using an ancient technology developed many millennia ago: trees.

According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature, restoring 350 million hectares of forest by 2030 would “sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.” If done respectfully toward indigenous communities that rely on forests, this would also benefit millions of people who rely on the biodiversity of these ecosystems.

How else can young scientists and engineers address climate change? By becoming politically active and advocating for real solutions like the Green New Deal.

New technology isn’t enough to save the planet.What’s really required is a mass movement demanding climate action rooted in equity, community, and urgency.

It’s time to stop the fossil fuel industry from polluting our planet — and our engineering schools.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 23, 2019
Kenneth Surin
Western China and the New Silk Road
W. T. Whitney
Stirrings of Basic Change Accompany Protests in Haiti
Louisa Willcox
Inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to Our Feast
Jonathan Cook
The Democrats Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS
Dave Lindorff
Military Spending’s Out of Control While Slashing It Could Easily Fund Medicare for All
John Kendall Hawkins
With 2020 Hindsight, the Buffoonery Ahead
Jesse Hagopian
The Chicago Teachers Strike: “Until We Get What Our Students Deserve”
Saad Hafiz
America’s Mission to Remake Afghanistan Has Failed
Victor Grossman
Thoughts on the Impeachment of Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion
John Horning
Spotted Owls and the National Christmas Tree
October 22, 2019
Gary Leupp
The Kurds as U.S. Sacrificial Lambs
Robert Fisk
Trump and the Retreat of the American Empire
John Feffer
Trump’s Endless Wars
Marshall Auerback
Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War
Dean Baker
Trump Declares Victory in China Trade War
Patrick Bond
Bretton Woods Institutions’ Neoliberal Over-Reach Leaves Global Governance in the Gutter
Robert Hunziker
XR Co-Founder Discusses Climate Emergency
John W. Whitehead
Terrorized, Traumatized and Killed: The Police State’s Deadly Toll on America’s Children
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security
Binoy Kampmark
The Decent Protester: a Down Under Creation
Frances Madeson
Pro-Democracy Movement in Haiti Swells Despite Police Violence
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Challenges Logging and Burning Project in Methow Valley
Chelli Stanley
Change the Nation You Live In
Elliot Sperber
Humane War 
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail