Last week I was pleased to get an advance screening of the new documentary Greedy Lying Bastards, which details the connections between American corporations and the denial of climate change science. If you’re unaware that corporate douchebags have been peddling denial in pursuit of profit, or if it’s just been too long since your last bought of uncontrollable rage, this is the movie for you!
The film pulls no punches: it lays out in disgustingly detail the overt ties between fossil fuel companies and climate denial, while showcasing the devastating impacts of climate change on regular people. Perhaps its best feature is its crisp, clever infographics, which tie everything together nicely. The main villains (or bastards, if you prefer) that the movie calls out are:
- The Koch Brothers are quickly becoming a household name…a name spit out in disgust, more often than not. The Kochs are wealthy tycoons whose companies refine oil and develop chemicals; half the products sitting under your kitchen sink can likely be traced back to them. To further their own selfish interests, these brothers fund dozens of smaller shell organizations in an effort to subvert both the science and legislation of climate change. Their best known creation is the Tea Party, which they created from whole cloth in 2009 specifically to oppose a cap-and-trade bill that was about to pass the US Senate. Their efforts have set the climate debate back decades, a charge to which I think they would cackle with fiendish delight.
Christopher Monckton, Jay Lehr, and Myron Ebell are paid hacks for the fossil fuel industry hacks, plain and simple. Posing as experts yet without a serious scientific background between them, they parade around the world shouting falsehoods in to any video camera that gets pointed in their direction. I actually had a humorous back-and-forth with Monckton through Twitter a few months ago, culminating in a comparison of his strange face to Jack Nicholson’s when it comes through the door in The Shining.
- Senator Jim Inhofe is the worst senator in America, and that’s saying a lot when Congress has approval ratings below 10%. Mr. Inhofe’s actions are in lock step with the interests of his biggest campaign contributors: oil and gas companies and electric utilities (from which he recieved $429,950 and $206,654 respectively in 2010). At every turn Mr. Inhofe goes far out of his way to deny science, sow doubt, and generally do the bidding of his corporate masters.
- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in addition to his stunning lack of judicial curiosity, is up to his eyeballs in conflicts of interest where the Koch brothers are concerned. Unsurprisingly, he was one of the deciding votes in the laughable Citizens United decision that made corporations in to people and money in to free speech. In the election immediately following that decision, mountains of Koch brother money propelled climate-denying candidates to victory. Voila! Democracy hijacked.
I would describe Greedy Lying Bastards as a blunt instrument of justice: its heavy-handed approach is intended to light a fire under anyone who’s been the sidelines or unsure about who to believe in the climate change debate. However, it feels a bit like a circlejerk, for lack of a better word. The movie is geared to enrage people already in the know about climate change, not to raise awareness of the among Americans generally — there’s no way your middle-aged Mom or conservative cousins would ever sit down and watch something this niche. It’s for that reason this site tends to focus more on the economic and security issues related to climate change, i.e. stuff that every American can relate to. Solving climate change means building a grassroots movement, and so any hint of shrillness can distract from the basic messages of science and survival.
In conclusion, while the film has its flaws, I certainly don’t deny that the director and climate activists at large have every right to be pissed off. Corporate influence has been subverting democracy and basic science for decades, and none of it is more destructive than that which denies climate change.
So check out Greedy Lying Bastards, and let the righteous anger wash over you.