No single crisis, no matter how existential, will be enough to shut this machine down naturally. We must break it or it will break us

It is useful to think of capitalism as a robotic savant, spectacularly gifted at doing one thing and cripplingly blind to everything else. Global capitalism is an incredible machine for extracting fossil fuels from our planet, refining them, shipping them to every corner of the Earth and making staggering amounts of money doing so. The humming of this machine, the fuel and the money that it spits out, has powered a century of unprecedented production and consumption by the Earth’s first-world nations. Unfortunately the machine is also poisoning us all. But one of its exquisitely evolved functions is to make it almost impossible to turn it off.

Oil refinery plant at night

Oil refinery plant at night

Oil and gas profits in the most recent quarter were astounding. Exxon Mobil made $18bn in profits in the past three months. Shell and Chevron each made nearly $12bn. Those are all record numbers. More major companies will announce their figures this week, and they are all expected to be bountiful. The war in Ukraine, which has devastated a region of the world and displaced millions, has helped energy companies by driving oil and gas prices higher. In this, we see another key characteristic of the machine: the fortunes of nations may rise and fall, but the oil companies will always survive and thrive, floating above the chaos of the world like passengers on a private jet, shaking their heads performatively at all the problems below.

Read more: theguardian

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