The carbon-combustion complex will crash

In their book, The Collapse of Western Civilization, Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway write about the carbon-combustion complex. They wisely adapt Eisenhower’s term, the military-industrial complex, to imply the force and power of fossil fuels on our entire way of life. They write,

Historians have labeled this system the carbon-combustion complex: a network of powerful industries comprising fossil fuel producers, industries that served energy companies (such as drilling and oil field service companies and large construction firms), manufacturers whose products relied on inexpensive energy (especially automobiles and aviation, but also aluminum and other forms of smelting and mineral processing),financial institutions that serviced their capital demands, and advertising, public relations, and marketing firms who promoted their products.

It’s real. As they make clear in their previous book, Merchants of Doubt, there has been a systematic attempt to undermine our understanding of climate change. Attempt understates it. They opened with an incredible gambit and then pursued a brazen full-court press to undermine democracy .

In Collapse of Western Civilization, Oreskes and Conway describe the “combustion-carbon complex.”

We have peeled back many layers of this rotten onion. Journalists at the LA Times and Inside Climate News discovered how #Exxonknew. Now we have unfolding investigations by multiple attorneys general. The last Bush administration colluded with “think tanks” and the fossil fuel industry to undermine our decision-making for years. Political appointees regularly tampered with scientific documents. It is clear that people in industry (Exxon, Chevron), in think tanks (Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Foundation), in policy or political appointments (Frank Luntz), and the shady media personalities they support (Marc Morano) have done an incredible amount of damage to our people and our democracy. Thank heavens for Rick S. Piltz for blowing the whistle and spilling the beans on that web of deception 9 years ago. But we still have a long way to go.


The facts of anthropogenic climate change inconvenience–no–disrupt the profit-making model of the companies that have fueled American preeminence. The facts of anthropogenic climate change completely trash the free-market fundamentalism that’s hijacked global policy. The facts of anthropogenic climate change have forced the worst actors to act even worse. They have all tried to get a free lunch. Oh, but sirs you must pay.

The check has arrived and theirs is the biggest to pay. But rather than be responsible adults, they have straight up denied the check is there. They have said the check was caused by the sun or some natural magic. A few of them have admitted that the check really isn’t that big. Why pay it now when you can just pay it later? They’ve said that the Indians and Chinese have to pay more because they just ordered a bigger portion. They have also tried to keep some healthier and more sustainable options off the table. These lines can’t hold. Facts are simply in the way.


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