From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
So beseeches the traditional Scottish Prayer, and judging from the extent to which many of us decorate our homes for the annual sugar-fest known as Halloween, we are increasingly haunted (so to speak) by all manner of forces that lurk under rocks and in the dark. Their deeds unseen, their nefarious purpose hidden, on All Hallows’ Eve we let such as these know that we are on to them.
Recently, two of their scarier denizens have come to light.
Contemptuous of its customers and the general public, the first is Volkswagen, caught with its hands in the “diesel dupe” cookie jar. Talk about “smart” cars, VW had installed onboard computer software in its diesel engines that could sense emissions test scenarios (like when we get our cars “smogged”). With the testers nosing around, the software puts the vehicle into a sort of “safety mode” which runs the engine below normal power and performance, improving emissions results; back on the road, the engines switch out of test mode, making the cars more fun to drive. Never mind that nitrogen oxide pollutants increase up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US. Apparently, we the people are easily duped, our health and that of the planet of no consequence.
The second gruesome ghosty, similarly contemptuous of its customers, the general public, and the whole planet, is Exxon, caught having buried its own scientists some 25 years ago in a mass corporate grave. Those scientists were smart enough in the 1970s to uncover and chart the long-term consequences of global warming and the threat to the environment posed by their product. Casting aside any hint of moral rectitude (not to mention responsible leadership—but let’s not get carried away), the executives buried the science along with their scientists and aligned their company instead with the Climate Crisis Denial Industry, thwarting all attempts to deal creatively with it. Given the scope of the fallout for the planet, moral failure of this magnitude has few peers: it has set back the public at least twenty-five years in responding to this crisis, which has only grown progressively worse in the meantime, and as I write this, questions are being raised about the criminal culpability of Exxon executives.
Bill McKibben has succinctly summarized this horrendous story in a recent article in “The Nation” (Oct 20, 2015) with links to further reading.
From such as these we do indeed seek deliverance, for starters, by sending a message to each: not another VW in the driveway—no more Mobil products in our gas tanks.
Dr. Richard R. Kurrasch
Following forty years of pastoral ministry, Rich and his wife, Ann Marie, retired to the Central Coast where in addition to the opportunities of the SLO life generally, he divides his time between PFJ, the Rotary Club of Five Cities Eco (one of three Eco/environmental Rotary clubs in the country), and writing a memoir.