Our next Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is fond of letting people know that he is an Eagle Scout, and that he is strongly committed to bettering our youth through his involvement with the Boy Scouts. While a host of dangerous climate change impacts have already begun to cause death and destruction and to exact a toll on human populations across the globe – a fact that Mr. Tillerson has been unwilling to acknowledge – there is no doubt that it is our children, their children, and future generations that will bear the brunt of suffering as a result of our increasingly climate-disrupted world. Some experts are now going so far as to say that a failure to address the climate change problem commensurate with the threat amounts to a form of child abuse. The fossil fuel extraction industries, faced with the knowledge that the very product they sell is the main culprit behind the destabilization of our global climate system, have a moral obligation to find ways to drastically reduce carbon emissions to Earth’s atmosphere so as not to leave behind a climate system inhospitable to human life. The oil, gas, and coal industries have shirked this moral imperative and managed to shake off any major legal imperatives formulated by elected officials over the years. In 2012, a few activist groups launched a campaign and put together a TV ad called “Exxon Hates Your Children.” The idea was to let the American people know that Rex Tillerson, as a lifetime employee and CEO of the ExxonMobil Corporation from 2006 to 2016, has taken little to no action to reduce Exxon’s carbon burden, instead working actively to defeat climate legislation in Congress and to maximize Exxon’s oil and gas extraction activities and profit at the expense of Earth’s climate system.
In short, Exxon has put profit over people. Mr. Tillerson should, at the very least, own up to his role in actively compromising, perhaps even destroying, the futures of the very youth – including the Boy Scouts – he claims to champion so strongly.