The two brothers who bankroll climate denial and the Tea Party extremists keep getting richer. Forbes estimates that pollutocrats Charles and David Koch have a fortune of $25 billion each, making them the fourth (and fifth) richest Americans.
As TP Green notes:
Like many folks who run oil companies, the Kochs love high oil prices. And the Kochs essentially invented oil derivatives — and led the way to deregulate the market — so they could profit even more.
The only three richer Americans are:
3. Larry Ellison (Oracle) — $33 billion
2. Warren Buffett — $39 billion
1. Bill Gates — $59 billion
Gates and Buffett are an interesting contrast to the Kochs. Gates and Buffett devote more and more of their money to helping the developing world deal with ever-worsening impacts of climate change (though Buffett profits from pollution, too). The Kochs work tirelessly to enrich themselves while destroying the climate. Guess which pair is going to win?
Let’s look closer at why the Kochs are poised to become the richest Americans.
Sure, the Kochs spend a lot of their money to ensure the destruction of a livable climate (see “Report: Koch Industries outspends Exxon Mobil on climate and clean energy disinformation“). But those tens of millions are only a small fraction of their wealth. Also, it really is a form of insurance. Keeping America addicted to oil is good for business. Similarly, the millions they spend on the Tea Party keep duping that movement into maintaining low taxes for the rich and ensuring that clean air and other regulations will be kept to a minimum if not gutted entirely.
The bottom line for the Kochs is that one would have to believe that their wealth will continue to rise since oil prices are headed up, and they’ve created a powerful political weapon in the form of the Tea Party to ensure their civilization-threatening avarice continues unabated.
Gates and Buffett, on the other hand, keep donating their money to the Gates Foundation, which aims to help billions of people in developing countries. The goal of its Global Development Program is “increase opportunities for people in developing countries to overcome hunger and poverty.” Their Global Health Program “harnesses advances in science and technology to save lives in poor countries.” I have been critical of their strategy (see “Can the problems of the developing world be solved by ignoring global warming?“). And the Foundation just seems content to let the deniers destroy the climate (see Annual Letter from Bill Gates silent on climate change). But at least their billions will help alleviate the suffering of many millions.
And Gates is pushing for more clean energy R&D (see Pro-geoengineering Bill Gates disses efficiency, “cute” solar, deployment). But while an R&D-centric strategy might’ve made sense in the 1990s, it’s too little, too late now. If your goal is to prevent massive suffering in the developing world, you need to stop the Kochs and start deploying clean energy as rapidly as possible with the help of a high and rising carbon price.
Warren Buffett continues to profit off of pollution, and some of his companies are very pro-pollution (see Warren Buffet’s Utility, MidAmerican, Wants to Keep Polluting). He himself is been quite confusing on the subject (see AP: Warren Buffett “says he doesn’t believe greenhouse gases represent a material risk for Berkshire’s insurance operations”). Rolling Stone actual labels him a climate-killing “Profiteer.”
But either way, Buffett is giving away his fortune and encouraging others to do so also. Forbes reports “Ellison joined the Giving Pledge at Buffett’s behest in 2010” and “He intends to give 95% of wealth to charity.”
So we have the two pollutocrats in fourth place on the Forbes list of richest Americans continuing to acquire wealth, pursue climaticide, and twist the political system to keep that wealth. And we have the three richest men planning to give most of their money away.
So it would seem to be only a matter of time that the Kochs the richest men in America. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed reign.