After They Finish With Exxon…

About the only nice thing to come from the wholesale adoption by climate activists of the Tobacco Strategy is that we can predict what’s coming next.

Why they adopted the Tobacco Strategy is an open question–the activist strategy against tobacco companies failed miserably.


Oh, the activists got their show trials and reparations were paid to some. But Big Tobacco is bigger and richer than ever before. The strategy failed.

At any rate, it is easy to see the next steps in the climate activists’ march to glory–glory, perhaps, but not success.

Activists may be able to convince a jury or even a judge somewhere that fossil fuel companies should have told investors that some day their products would fall out of favor. And it is indeed possible that politicians will regulate fossil fuels or impose a carbon tax that will make this chart from BP obsolete:


If activists are successful in the demonization of fossil fuels and their producers, however, it is just one step in a path that parallels that taken by those who successfully demonized Big Tobacco without harming their businesses in any way. As Exxon has some bright people on board, they may recognize this and accede to public shaming for a while and then get back to business.

That business is selling fossil fuels to us. We are the ones who clamor for their product, who can’t live without it.

And make no mistake, we are the next ones in the sights of climate activists. In the same way that the tobacco activists followed their show trial ‘victories’ over Big Tobacco with a concerted attack on public behavior, so too will climate activists segue into a never-ending attack on consumers of fossil fuels.

Oh, they’ll go after the big consumers first, of course. But once they’ve established the logic of punishing consumption, it will trickle down to we the people. Just as no-smoking zones were first trialed on airplanes and in hospitals but then grew to public parks and beaches, stadiums and 30 meter zones outside of any public building, so too will rationing, permissions and mandatory cutbacks be the new order of the day.

Tobacco activists achieved their temporary victories, not because of what they did to tobacco companies, but because of the social change they induced in the general population. They shamed the companies, but then blamed the smokers. As long as tobacco companies sold their wares to the developing world, the companies didn’t mind and neither did the activists. It was a win-win situation.

This is the strategy explicitly adopted by climate activists. It may well achieve the same results–fossil fuel consumption being channeled heavily into the developing world while the richer countries adopt a puritanical aversion to the stuff. But hey–we already import toys and electronics from the developing world, we can get all the stuff made using fossil fuels from them, too. We can pedal our bicycles past the abandoned factories and use our laptops for six hours a day when the sun is shining on our solar panels.

The net impact on climate change will be zero. Just as tobacco companies today churn out three trillion cigarettes annually, fossil fuel consumption will double, conveniently out of sight, just as those dying from their nicotine consumption are hidden from Western view. But those activists will sure get rich and famous–which is all that matters from their strategic point of view.

Where’s Shailene Woodley when we need her?


8 responses to “After They Finish With Exxon…

  1. Good point. We have been warned. Thank you.

  2. There is a very important difference between the tobacco situation and that of fossil fuels.

    Tobacco was, and is, injurious to our health. Fossil fuels have improved our well being. Future harm is entirely speculative, and global temperatures refuse to warm as quickly as warming enthusiasts wish.

    If those who run Exxon and other companies have any sense they will not stand for public shaming, but fight. However, I have little hope that they will adopt that strategy, and their weakness will only encourage the activists.

  3. You are shedding light on an important part of this increasingly dark and dangerous social mania. Oil has transformed and improved the world. So gas coal. Climate Imperialism has only cost all if us not directly profiting from it. Most of the oil in the world is owned by national oil companies, not private industry. If oil is so bad, the nation’s that own the vast majority of it can easily do something about it: simply stop allowing its production. They never will. The climate imperialists want the money.

  4. I agree that Exxon is just the beginning and the public are the real target but I think situation is more like the dieting. Despite industrial scale nagging, the public keep consuming more and won’t get out of their cars. Even with demonstrable side effects, humans have trouble ditching things that have such high rewards. In comparison smoking is easy peasy. And yet still thriving.

    Virtue signalling.

  5. From Wikipedia:

    “Ciresi’s law firm was frequently mentioned in the press for the remarkably high legal fees collected in the 1998 tobacco settlement, fees variously reported as between $440 million and $558 million[3]. The fees were to be paid over two years[4], in contrast to the 25-year annual payment scheme used to pay the plaintiffs of the case, the State of Minnesota. Hence, the time-adjusted value (or net present value) of the Ciresi firm’s fees, relative to the total award, was enhanced. The fees were funded directly by tobacco companies.

    “Marlboro has risen to its No. 1 position on the backs of America’s youth,” Ciresi said in January 1998[5].

    As a result of the 1998 Minnesota tobacco settlement, Ciresi came to be known as a wealthy man and philanthropist, appearing regularly in the national and local press. According to Forbes magazine, with Ciresi among the highest-paid lawyers in the USA, “Cigarette money alone put these ten lawyers on the top-earning list—and it’s likely to keep them there for the next 25 years.” The magazine listed Ciresi’s personal annual income at $14.4 million in 2000. Forbes speculated that Ciresi would use his newfound wealth and prominence to run for political office[6], which soon proved correct.”

    Mike Ceresi is well connected to the state’s ruling party.

  6. manicbeancounter

    The high profitability of the Tobacco industry (and hence the spectacular share price performance) is an unintended consequence of the policy. Sales have fallen as a result of punitive taxation, bans on advertising, bans on smoking in public places and even bans on displaying the products in shops. But it has all meant a lack of competition. Cigarrettes are simple to make, so competition – like for fizzy drinks or coffee – is based mostly on branding. It would be impossible to launch a new brand without advertizing. Also, with 80% or more of the price consisting of tax, a few pence does not affect the sales volume, but massively increases the margins.

  7. Tom, the “tobacco strategy” succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of those deploying it:
    The plaintiff attorneys became some of the wealthiest people in the world.
    A whole industry of anti-tobacco activists have permanent funding.
    States got money from corporate America without raising taxes.
    The tobacco companies, as you have pointed out, did fine.
    People who want to smoke can still do so.
    The war on fossil fuels will result in permanent funding for useless windmill and solar power.
    Gasoline will still be available.
    The oil industry will survive.
    Climate imperialists will claim that the climate obsessed burden has been manifestly fulfilled.
    The climate will continue to ignore them all.

  8. Pingback: I Believe They Will Ration Your CO2 Emissions. I Believe They Will Cheat On The Numbers. | The Lukewarmer's Way

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