Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Disinformation from the oil and plastics industry

Andrew Seifert
Andreas Seifert
Permanent writer in MODERN TIMES within technology/environment.


Are we responsible for our actions both individually and as companies and industry? As individuals, we can be held accountable in most areas, unless we are politicians – but companies and industry have a far greater opportunity to escape.

Already in 1959, the oil industry was warned by the nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller, during a symposium organized by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business to mark 100 years of oil extraction, about the dangers of continued use of fossil fuels. Not only did he mention CO2 and greenhouse
effect, as well as that we will run out of fossil fuel, he also pointed out sea level rise and how many coastal cities would risk being flooded. After the post, he was asked to summarize and did so:

"Currently, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by two percent above normal. By 1970 it will perhaps be four percent; by 1980 eight percent, by 1990 sixteen percent, if we continue with our exponential increase in the use of clean conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional obstacle to the radiation leaving the Earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is difficult to say whether it will be two degrees Fahrenheit or just one or five. But when the temperature actually rises by a few degrees across the globe, there is a possibility that the ice caps will start to melt and the level of the seas will start to rise. Well, I don't know whether they will cover the Empire State Building or not, but anyone can calculate that by looking at the map and noting that the ice caps over Greenland and over Antarctica are maybe five thousand feet thick.”

Oil Spill Pollution – Concept with Pelicans

Electric cars

In 1969, Robert Dunlop was the head of the Sun Oil Company and was present during Teller's speech. Eight years later, Dunlop had become chairman of the American Petroleum Institute. The US Senate investigated the possibility and potential of electric cars, but Dunlop had a clear answer: “We in the petroleum industry are convinced that when a practical electric car can be mass-produced and marketed, it will have no meaningful benefit from an air pollution point of view. Emissions from internal combustion engines will have long since been controlled." Electric cars don't just belong to our time, but have been used and on the market since 1828. Admittedly, it is said that they were not practical until approx. 1870, but the first practical petrol-powered internal combustion engine is considered to be Benz's car from 1885.

Disinformation at a high level

In 2015, it was revealed that Exxon (now Exxon Mobile) had invested heavily in climate research. This was research that was initiated in 1977 and which they not only kept to themselves, but tried to cast doubt on. Billions of dollars have gone into disinformation. Not least the notorious PR firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies has been used by the oil industry.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a supplementary investigation to that of InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers – consisting of 7 documents with 85 internal memos totaling more than 330 pages. These reveal a number of deceptive tactics used by the fossil fuel industry: "We included a memo from a coalition of fossil fuel companies in which they basically promise to undertake a major communications effort to sow doubt," stated UCS president at the time, Kenneth Kimmel to Scientific America (2015). "There's even a quote in it that goes something like 'victory will be achieved' when the average person becomes uncertain about climate science," he further stated.

In other words, the oil industry has been very aware of what it has done, but continues undeterred for one simple reason: profit. This is a conspiracy against humanity for the financial gain of a few. The oil industry has also had a strong lobby to prevent large-scale investments in electric cars – and battery technology in particular. Exxon's 45-year-old, now well-documented research has proven to be scarily accurate.

Norwegian fracking and contaminated water

But Exxon has not been alone in deceiving the world. Most of them are here, including Norway's Equinor (formerly Statoil). Since 2009, Equinor has operated fracking in both the USA and Argentina. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, shale gas extraction (shale gas extraction) is one of the dirtiest ways to extract gas. Shale gas is also used to make plastic, but fracking is banned in many countries due to the dangers and pollution such extraction entails.

Shale gas extraction is one of the dirtiest ways to extract gas.

In fracking, around 1000 different chemicals are used, which are mixed with sand and millions of liters of water and pumped under pressure into shale layers to drive out the gas. Many of these chemicals are 'trade secrets', which not least makes it difficult to extinguish fires – when the fire service does not know which chemicals are being used. The fires can last for weeks. The chemicals that are used leak into the ground water – there are also accidents where the slag that is originally to be cleaned flows into rivers and causes mass death of fish and marine life. Between 5 million and 60 million liters of water are used per well. Only 15–40 percent come back up and can be cleaned. That means a lot of polluted water going astray.

Babies who drink from plastic bottles ingest millions of microplastic particles every day.

Edward Teller did not speak to deaf ears in 1959. On the contrary, he made the industry take the dangers so seriously that they have used billions of dollars to deceive the world. The five largest oil companies in the US alone spent a staggering 3,6 billion dollars in the period 1986 to 2015 – or just over 120 million dollars a year. And that's just the five largest of the American companies. The oil industry's knowledge of global warming for so long testifies to a conspiracy of concealment, fraud and forgery.

Plastic is a huge waste problem

Plastic was invented in 1862 by Alexander Parkes and called parkesine, but it was not until 1907 that the fully synthetic plastic, i.e. without any molecules from nature, came in the form of Bakelite, invented by Leo Baekeland (1863-1944). Plastic is literally everywhere, even in the computer I sit and type on. In essence, you can say that plastic is an oil and gas product – in fact 99 per cent. Around ten percent of the oil is used to produce it. Plastic has in many ways made our everyday life easier and raised the standard of living, especially for us in the West. But it has its price, and those who have enriched themselves by producing plastic are not willing to pay that price. Four hundred billion kilograms of plastic are produced each year, and the OECD estimates that plastic waste will almost triple by 2060.

"It is typically Norwegian to be good", said Gro Harlem Brundtland in his New Year's speech in 1992. And Norway collects and sorts – including plastic. A whopping 98 percent of this is exported to Germany, so one would think that everything is in perfect order. But is it? Germany exports three times more plastic than it imports. And the EU exports approx. half of all 'recycled' plastic – 1,1 billion kilos of plastic waste – to countries outside the EU.

Gio (Italy)-Plastic-Sea of plastic

While only nine percent of plastic is recycled (as of 2019), the OECD expects the figure to increase to 17 percent in 2060. That is a long way into the future and also a vanishingly small proportion. In addition, there is a limit to how many times the plastic can be recycled before it loses its properties. Most of it is only recycled two to three times, which means that no matter how much plastic we recycle, the plastic causes a huge garbage problem. There are five large plastic islands in the oceans. The largest is 1,6 million square kilometers – four times larger than Norway's land mass. The largest, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, contains 1,8 billion pieces of plastic, not exactly an inconsiderable amount – and increases tenfold every decade.

Pure greenwashing

In recent years, the oil industry has stepped in to increase plastic production. Every year it earns 400 billion dollars from plastic.

In 2020, American National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS Frontline came out with an in-depth report on plastics and the oil industry's cover-ups. The report leaves little doubt that the industry has been very aware of the problems with plastics. "There is real doubt that [plastics recycling] can ever be made economically viable," one oil industry insider wrote in a speech given in 1974. While the industry has spent millions of dollars promoting plastics recycling, is this pure greenwashing. They have made hundreds of billions of dollars selling new plastics. While beaches, nature and landfills (garbage sites) are flooded with plastic. Even in the mountains of the Himalayas, plastic is a problem. And unfortunately it doesn't stop there. In the sea, the concentration also increases in the food chain. The bigger the fish, the more plastic you will find in it.

Among beverages, the most microplastics are found in beer.

Microparticles of up to three types of plastic were also recently discovered in the blood of 17 out of 22 test subjects. The plastic comes through food and drink and also via the air we breathe. It is even worse when small babies are given milk from plastic bottles. Then the concentration of plastic can be ten times higher than assumed in adults. In the study on plastic in human blood, which was published in the journal Environmental International, it is shown that babies who drink from plastic bottles ingest millions of microplastic particles every day. And precisely plastic bottles are one of the main sources of people's intake of microplastics.

Otherwise, it is found in almost all foods. Even in fruits and vegetables. An apple a day no longer keeps the doctor away, as it contains up to 195 plastic particles per gram! Among vegetables, broccoli and carrots are the most plastic-contaminated, but plastic can be found in everything from salad to grain and rice. With rice, the concentration can be reduced by 500 to 20 per cent when rinsing, but not in plastic bottled water. Plants get their plastic from soil and water. Among beverages, the most microplastics are found in beer. Honey also now often contains microplastics as the bees not only take in pollen, but also microplastics from the air.

So to speak, everything from the sea contains microplastics, but since it mostly ends up in the fish's belly, which is usually removed before consumption, the worst here are shells and shellfish. And salt. Over 90 percent of salt from 21 countries contains microplastics, according to a study conducted by Incheon National University, South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia on a sample of the most popular brands. According to another study carried out in Hong Kong, there could be up to 17,2 grams of plastic per kilogram of salt.

Hill + Knowlton Strategies

The PR agency Hill+Knowlton Strategies is widely used by the oil industry. They have previously worked for the tobacco industry; for Ugandan authorities to cover up human rights violations; for Coca-Cola, and last but not least, for the WHO to influence the influences. They were also behind the infamous and tear-dropping 'Iraq video' which went viral in October 1990 and which helped shape and strengthen public opinion to invade Iraq. In the video, Kuwaiti teenager Nayirah Al-Sabah tells a US congressional hearing about how Iraqi soldiers took newborns out of incubators. With tears in her eyes, she told how she had witnessed at least 15 such episodes. It was all fabricated. The girl was the daughter of a Kuwaiti diplomat who lived in the United States. Hill & Knowlton was paid roughly ten million dollars for the fabrication, 99,85 percent of which was from the Kuwaiti authorities. Quite interesting that such an agency is allowed to operate freely. Just hearing their name associated with whatever it is should make one check and double check their veracity or intentions.

Plastic bags

Plastic production was relatively low at first and until approx. 1980, but later it has increased explosively. At the beginning of the 2000s, plastic waste in the last decade had increased more than in the 40 previous years combined. The UN estimates that there are approximately 8,3 billion tonnes of plastic in the world, of which 6,3 billion are rubbish.

About 36 percent of the 400 million tonnes of plastic we produce each year is used for packaging. Kenya introduced a plastic bag ban in 2017, Tanzania in 2019, but it was Bangladesh that was the first, way back in 2002. In Norway, plastic bags are still widely used. In 2019, Norwegians used 750 million plastic carrier bags. The EU, and thus Norway as well, has as its goal that the use of plastic bags should be reduced by 70 per cent by 2025, so in our part of the world there is clearly no rush. One of the main arguments in Norway is that we reuse shopping bags for garbage bags. That's true to a certain extent, but purchased garbage bags on a roll weigh only half of plastic bags and save the use of plastic as well as transport and the environment. In Norway, people are good at cleaning up after themselves, at home, so plastic doesn't show as much after use. That much, if not most, of our plastic eventually ends up in the wild in other poor countries seems to be unwanted knowledge – although this is mentioned in the media on a regular basis. Out of sight, out of mind?

Replacement of plastic

On the home front, there are several things we can do, both to reduce consumption and to prevent the ingestion of microplastics. We can use less plastic in general, not least in the kitchen, where some utensils can release harmful microparticles. We can eat less ready-made food, where the concentration of microplastics is high. If you use a microwave, it is a good idea to remove plastic containers so that an unnecessary amount of microplastic is not released during the heating process.

The most important thing is to reduce the consumption of plastic – use less plastic. All this helps against increased growth of plastic, but it does not remove existing plastic. Alongside public measures, it is perhaps reasonable to demand that the manufacturers who have known about all the effects, take responsibility – and take part of the price tag to clean up.

Introducing deposit schemes in other countries, at a national level, could contribute greatly to recycling and less consumption. This is know-how that Norway is good at. Norway was early on with mortgage schemes, and the Norwegian Tomra was the first to introduce the mortgage machine as we know it. When there is a financial incentive, it is easier to get people involved. But a deposit machine is not necessarily needed in poorer countries, but rather return schemes for plastic. Nevertheless, the return scheme is of little help if the plastic is not treated properly.

Today, there are also several methods for the final reuse of plastic. It can be mixed into cement and asphalt, and it can be used in building blocks for houses. All of these are ways that are already in use, albeit on a small scale. In the examples mentioned, they make the products both stronger and cheaper to produce, while also removing part of the rubbish that is in circulation.

There are several plants etc. that can replace the plastic. Among other things, hemp, bamboo, wood and mushrooms (mycelium) can be used. The latter can replace styrofoam (styrofoam) and is well suited for packaging, something large chains such as IKEA have already started with. Packaging of mushrooms, hemp and bamboo is 100 percent degradable.

See also THE WHY's film about plastic


https://www.npr. org/2020/09/11/897692090/how-big- oil-misled-the-public-into-believing-plastic-would-be-recycled


- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

Our ill-fated fate (ANTI-ODIPUS AND ECOLOGY)

PHILOSOPHY: Can a way of thinking where becoming, growth and change are fundamental, open up new and more ecologically fruitful understandings of and attitudes towards the world? For Deleuze and Guattari, desire does not begin with lack and is not desire for what we do not have. Through a focus on desire as connection and connection – an understanding of identity and subjectivity as fundamentally linked to the intermediate that the connection constitutes. What they bring out by pointing this out is how Oedipal desire and capitalism are linked to each other, and to the constitution of a particular form of personal identity or subjectivity. But in this essay by Kristin Sampson, Anti-Oedipus is also linked to the pre-Socratic Hesiod, to something completely pre-Oedipal. MODERN TIMES gives the reader here a philosophical deep dive for thought.

A love affair with the fabric of life

FOOD: This book can be described like this: «A celebration of stories, poetry and art that explores the culture of food in a time of converging ecological crises – from the devouring agricultural machine to the regenerative fermenting jar.»

On the relationship between poetry and philosophy

PHILOSOPHY: In the book The Poetics of Reason, Stefán Snævarr goes against a too strict concept of rationality: To live rationally is not only to find the best means to realize one's goals, but also to make life meaningful and coherent. Parts of this work should enter all disciplines concerned with models, metaphors and narratives.

The glow of utopia

PHILOSOPHY: the problem with a hopeful optimism is that it does not take the current climate crisis seriously enough and ends up accepting the state of affairs. But is there a hope and a utopia that hides a creative and critical force? MODERN TIMES takes a closer look at German Ernst Bloch's philosophy of hope. For the German Ernst Bloch, one must rediscover the fire in our concrete experience that anticipates possible futures in the real here and now.

Revisiting the real machine room

NOW: Barely 50 years after the publication of Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, the work has not lost its relevance according to the Norwegian magazine AGORA's new theme issue. Anti-Oedipus has rather proved to be a prophetic and highly applicable conceptual toolbox for the examination of a financial and information capitalist contemporary. In this essay, reference is also made to the book's claim that there is no economy or politics that is not permeated to the highest degree by desire. And what about the fascist where someone is led to desire their own oppression as if it meant salvation?

Self-staging as an artistic strategy

PHOTO: Frida Kahlo was at the center of a sophisticated international circle of artists, actors, diplomats and film directors. In Mexico, she was early on a tehuana – a symbol of an empowered woman who represents a different ideal of women than that rooted in traditional marianismo. But can we also see the female stereotypes 'whore' and 'madonna' in one and the same person?

We live in a collective dream world

ESSAY: The Bible, according to Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff: The testaments in the Bible are related to a "peculiar mixture of Babylonian mythology, myths, and historical falsification". For him, no religion has produced as many monstrous claims as Christianity, and none has taken the same for self-evident truths to the same extent. Neutzsky-Wulff is fluent in ten languages ​​and claims that no external world is opposed to the internal. Moreover, with a so-called subjective 'I' we are prisoners in a somatic prison. Possible to understand?

Why do we always ask why men commit acts of violence, instead of asking why they don't allow it?

FEMICID: Murders of women do not only occur structurally and not only based on misogynistic motives – they are also largely trivialized or go unpunished.

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.