Records show fossil fuel executives and big corporations knew their products would cause disastrous global damage – for decades.  Should they be charged with homicide? From Public Citizen David Arkush makes the case.  From Rutgers, Journalism Professor Melissa Aronczyk on Greenwashing the Canadian Tar Sands.  We investigate corporate propaganda trying to dress up one of the dirtiest fuels in the world. Plus more AI climate music – even the machine wants justice!

I’m Alex Smith.  Welcome to Radio Ecoshock.

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (57 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


David Arkush

Making the Case for Climate Homicide

For over 50 years, big fossil fuel companies had internal warnings their products would cause massive deaths and destabilized the climate.  Now experts find millions of people died due to climate change.  Should these companies, or their executives and Directors be charged with homicide?  Two American legal experts say “yes”.

David Arkush is the director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. A Harvard-trained lawyer, Arkush is recognized as an advocate and campaigner for consumer rights. David also taught at the University of Richmond School of Law and he appears regularly in major news outlets.  Last year Arkush teamed up with Public Citizen’s Aaron Regunberg for an article about climate homicide in Harvard Environmental Law Review.  Now he works with Donald Braman from George Washington University presenting climate homicide events at top law schools including Harvard, University of Chicago, New York University, and Yale.

David Arkush


Listen to or download this 28 minute interview with David Arkush in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Listen to or download this AI song “Until Climate Justice Comes” in CD Quality


We talk about the precedent of tobacco, which is estimated to have killed at least 100 million people in the 20th century alone.  They also lied about health dangers – even employing Doctors on television telling us tobacco was safe.  But as far as I know, not a single tobacco magnate went to jail for anything, much less murder.

Until relatively recently, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma pushed opioids into a billion-dollar product.  At times they were accused of bribing Doctors with vacations and other rewards for prescribing very addictive drugs like Oxycontin.  Some estimate more than 200,000 Americans died due to overdoses caused by opioids.  But again, no homicide charges against them.  But David says this case is still before the courts and criminal charges against the Sacklers may or may not still be filed, partly depending on the final settlement.

Many of our listeners are worried about climate damage beyond homicide. We see whole forests and ecosystems damaged and much-loved species endangered or extinct.  More than a dozen countries passed laws making ecocide a crime, including France, Georgia, and the Ukraine.

With Donald Braman, David published the article “Climate Homicide: Prosecuting Big Oil For Climate Deaths” – also covered in the New Republic magazine.  A shorter article with the same title was published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, January 25, 2023.


As the Guardian reported in March:

“Energy companies have been charged with homicide for environmental crimes before, Arkush noted. California prosecutors charged the utility PG&E with manslaughter after a tree fell onto an aging transmission line and sparked a deadly 2018 wildfire in Paradise, California. Federal prosecutors also charged oil company BP with manslaughter after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and resulted in the largest oil spill in the history of marine oil-drilling operations. Both companies pleaded guilty and paid billions of dollars in penalties and fines.”


At the start of May, The American Senate held their hearings titled: “Denial, Disinformation, and Doublespeak: Big Oil’s Evolving Efforts to Avoid Accountability for Climate Change.”  A whole lot more proof emerged of what fossil fuels corporations knew about climate change and when – dating back to the 1950’s. The climate impact was certain and clear by the 1970’s.  Since then, Exxon/Mobil, Shell, BP, Totale, Chevron, and all the national oil companies have financed deception, distraction, and lies.

Next we have a case in point: how big oil in Alberta Canada formed a common lobby, front group, and public relations campaign.  They want us to believe nice Canadian heavy oil is “better” than those foreign products.  The atmosphere does not agree.


Melissa Aronczyk

Greenwashing by Oil Sands Multinationals

There must be 50 ways to lie about your greenhouse gas emissions.  The oil, gas, and coal industry can hire the best.  A glaring case-study: a group of huge Canadian oil-sands corporations tell the world their oil is better for the environment.  Their product is among the worst in the world for the atmosphere and the Earth.

A group of experienced media analysts just published this study: “Greenwashing, net-zero, and the oil sands in Canada: The case of Pathways Alliance.”  A co-author is Dr. Melissa Aronczyk.  She is Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the School of Communication and Information, at Rutgers University.

Melissa’s research shows how public relations shapes our perception of environmental crises, and influences our responses to them. Her most recent co-authored book is “A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism”.

Listen to or download this 23 minute interview with Melissa Aronczyk in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Greenwashing is well defined as: “the dissemination of false or deceptive information regarding an organization’s environmental strategies, goals, motivations, and actions”.

The Abstract for this report on Greenwashing in the Canadian heavy oil industry says:

We identify instances of selective disclosure and omission, misalignment of claim and action, displacement of responsibility, non-credible claims, specious comparisons, nonstandard accounting, and inadequate reporting.


Pathways Alliance is a coalition comprising Canada’s six largest oil sands producers, all headquartered in Alberta:

Canadian Natural,
Cenovus Energy,
ConocoPhillips Canada,

Imperial Oil,
MEG, and
Suncor Energy.

The coalition’s president, Mr. Kendall Dilling, was previously Vice-President, Energy & Regulatory at Cenovus.”

In the report on Greenwashing by the Pathways Alliance, the authors find:

The promotion of net-zero claims is raising concerns in Canada, notably regarding the oil sands in Alberta. Canada is the fourth largest producer of oil globally and most of the country’s reserves are in Alberta’s oil sands. Oil sands are unconventional sites of petroleum composed of “dense viscous material” and require “nonconventional techniques” to extract and develop which rely on high energy and water use.

The oil sands sector is dominated by a few large producers, yet also the primary contributor to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, which grew 88 % from 1990 through 2021. This is because oil sands are more emissions-intensive to mine than traditional oil deposits due to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through extraction, refining, and transport. The Pembina Institute, an energy research center, notes that ’after 50 years of production, the oilsands remain among the world’s most carbon-intensive large-scale crude oil operations’. This problem is sometimes described as the Achilles heel by industry executives and has influenced decisions, including by other oil producers, to divest from the oil sands sector.

Melissa studies and publishes books on the intersection of public relations branding and the environmental crisis. Canada and Canadians have a brand too.  We think people like us.  Canadians are so polite and dependable. But now major oil sands companies are swiping that image, and wrapping their super-pollution in it.



Millions of Canadians want the oil sands shut-down.  We call them the “tar sands”. That is what comes out of the ground, not oil, but a black carbon goo.  It takes a lot of fossil fuels to make that into anything a heavy refinery could use to make oil.  But they get to wear our clothes and wave our flag, so-to-speak.

Canadians are getting a barrage of TV ads, radio, and social media from the oil sands companies and their representatives in governments and think tanks. Knowing the insane heat, large-scale drought in parts of Canada, astounding wildfires running wild in northern forests, it is hard to remain an unbiased journalist.  A little passion seems appropriate, but we try to avoid boiling over in strong winds of anger and sadness.  Apparently a few people can profit from speeding up the wreck of this civilization and natural systems built over hundreds of millions of years.

The supposed unbiased mass media outlets are simply for sale.  They run without comment advertising creating a nice green glow around the deadliest blackest products.  Our planet-killing fuels are better than those other guys.  Why buy from a dictator, gang or terrorist state when you can get all your fossil drugs from a nice place like Canada?

That’s why I wrote  new realistic national anthem for Canada – found at the end of this show (and bottom of the blog).


Oilsands disinformation is worse than you think
By Chris Russill, Patrick McCurdy & Jenny Kliever | Opinion | April 12th 2024

Russill and co-authors warn:

The top search results on Google are the ones people use to form opinions on things like carbon taxes, energy options or anything, really.

These are among the hundreds of search keywords purchased by Pathways Alliance to direct those curious about climate change to oilsands content – schoolchildren doing their homework, cash-strapped farmers trying to understand carbon taxes or voters interested in Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. On these and other climate subjects, but especially carbon taxes and net zero, oilsands companies paid Google so you hear from them first.

And also this article “The oil lobby is lying. Canadian oil isn’t clean oil” by Dale Marshall.


What should we think of a suicidal system where we benefit until collapse comes? With a tiny prompt, this is what an artificial mind said and sang about big oil greed: “It’s a deadly plot”.  Even the machine knows.

Download or listen to the AI Climate Song “Oil Barons


It is so hard to express negative emotions about our fossil fuel Lords.  They rule no matter who comes to power.  The Biden Administration hath given climate action and taken it away.  The U.S. Justice Department just killed a key climate lawsuit filed by children.  That suit struggled for years through various layers of the court system.  Now the kids will never have their day in federal court to seek justice for their ruined futures.

In Canada, we had a Prime Minister for ten years who literally represented the offices of the Alberta oil and gas industry.  He took away the country’s only Arctic research ship and leased it out for energy exploration in the North.  He muzzled Canadian climate scientists and damaged Canadian climate science.

Our next young Prime Minister spoke of climate action and reconnected with international climate negotiations.  Then he spent thirty two billion dollars of tax payer money to construct a pipeline from the tar sands to the Port of Vancouver.  All the big private corporations refused to build it, as uneconomical and very unpopular.  Hundreds of people were arrested protesting this giant emissions project, including site occupation by University students and faculty.  The pipeline just opened last week feeding supertankers going through the crowded narrow port of Vancouver.   It is Canada’s shame.

So, Exxon/Mobile and all their oil buddies just stole our good name, glued it to their lethal products, and sold it as “Canadian”.  They might as well take our national anthem as well.  With the help of AI, I challenge all you who live in countries of fossil fuel diggers, drillers, and shippers to re-write you own national anthem for these times.  Post it somewhere.  Send me a link.

I’m Alex Smith.  Thank you for listening and caring about our world.

Here you go Canada, this is for you.

Listen to or download this new national anthem for Canada in CD Quality



For those keeping track of the biggest world heat event I’ve ever seen, here is coverage of Southeast Asia in the killer heat – from the German broadcasting English language service..  As I write, almost ALL of India was above 45 degrees C or 113 degrees F. in the shade.  Crowded inner cities will be even hotter for those without air-conditioning.

NEXT WEEK We will hear from a leading scientist in India in one of the hottest cities in Asia.  Meanwhile, check this out:  ’Extreme heat in Southeast Asia leads to school closures and health warnings for millions’ | DW News  Jacob Goldberg reporting from Bangkok – includes the role of climate change.



Also in this program: a new public domain climate song: “Until Climate Justice Comes”
-Lyrics by Alex Smith, performed by AI, Public Domain.  Here are the lyrics.  Feel free to swipe them and try it in your own AI music maker.

I am waiting
Until Justice comes
For people lost
To the burning sun
Climate homicide.

[Verse 1]

If you knew the heat was coming
But made money anyway
You knew the seas would rise
But did not say.


How many super yachts
Houses and Young wives
Can add up to
A million lives?

[Verse 2]

Like the old men from the death camps
Bring them back to stand
Before the last bar of justice
In this damaged land.


We are waiting Until justice comes
For people lost
To the Burning Sun.
Climate homicide.