Professor Juan Cole compares big oil to mass murderers

  • Published on June 1st, 2011

african dry lakebedOxfam, the British organisation that fights world hunger, has bad news for us all – unless we act now,  hunger is going to get worse.

After decades of improvement, it looks like a combination of rising food prices and global warming will take a billion people who now live on the brink and push them over the edge – into starvation. And that’s got Professor Juan Cole pretty angry.

Cole is a distinguished professor at the University of Michigan, and the go-to blogger on Middle East issues at his own blog and at Truthdig.

He’s been tracking the uprisings of the Arab Spring that have swept away oppressive regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened others from Libya to Yemen. And he’s seen how a combination of rising food and fuel prices have fueled  that unrest (as we reported in our article,Egypt’s Ethanol Revolution: Bad US Policy Driving Up Worldwide Food Prices“).

Cole blames US corporations that are currently spending billions to convince the world nothing needs to be done about climate change. Instead of simply adjusting their corporate policies to work with the very real needs of the world, they seem ready to drive us all to the brink of destruction in exchange for a few more years of unfettered profits.

Writing yesterday, Cole said:

The Big Oil and Big Coal executives attempting to stop efforts to reduce emissions are thus in effect mass murderers of a future generation.

America’s corporate police state has decided that ecological activism is a danger that it needs to spend millions combating. (In fact, genuine ‘eco-terrorism,’ as opposed to FBI entrapment of aging hippies, is rare.)

Given what is being done to the planet, the FBI should instead be having agents sit outside Big Oil and Big Coal corporate offices tracing how the money goes out from them to buy our political representatives (that is illegal, guys) and have them work against green energy and engage in climate change denial.

Oxfam projects food prices could double in the next 20 years, with half of that rise due to the impact of climate change. “We are sleepwalking towards an age of avoidable crisis,” Oxfam’s chief executive, Barbara Stocking, said. “One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone. The food system must be overhauled.”

Oxfam called for:

  • The leaders of the G20 nations to set better rules to govern food markets. Speculators are driving up food prices – Oxfam wants regulation to prevent these bloodsuckers from profiting on the backs of the starving.
  • Something must be done about the massive  corporate concentration of agribusiness – starting with the seed sector, dominated by the GMO crops of US giant Monsanto. “Three companies – Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill – control an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s grain trade. Their activities help drive volatile food prices and they profit from them.”
  • First-world countries need to increase global food reserves to help get through bad crop years.
  • They also need to end insane biofuels policies that subsidize food-into-fuel, especially in the US. “The grain required to fill the petrol tank of an SUV with biofuels is sufficient to feed one person for a year.”

Read Oxfam’s report, Growing a Better Future, and find out more about Oxfam’s Grow campaign.

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(Dry lakebed image Attribution Some rights reserved by yaaaay)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.