Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Lauren MacDonald

Scottish climate campaigner Lauren MacDonald (right) confronts Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden during the TED Countdown Summit in Edinburgh on October 14, 2021. (Photo: Stop Cambo)

'We Will Never Forget What You Have Done': Climate Activist Grills Shell CEO at TED Forum

"So many people are already dying due to issues related to the climate crisis," said Green New Deal Rising's Lauren MacDonald, "and you are directly responsible for those deaths."

Brett Wilkins

A Scottish climate activist was hailed Thursday for poignantly challenging the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell—a company that's known since at least the 1980s that its products fuel global heating—during a TED event in Edinburgh.

"I hope you know that as the climate crisis gets more and more deadly, you will be to blame."

"Son of a gun! A TED Talk that actually amounts to something," tweeted Bill McKibben, co-founder of the climate action group 350.org, after viewing video of Lauren MacDonald, a Green New Deal Rising and #StopCambo campaigner, confronting Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

MacDonald and van Beurden appeared on a panel along with hedge fund founder Chris James during the TED Countdown Summit, a $10,000 to $50,000-per-ticket four-day event described by organizers as a forum where "speakers share a blueprint for a beautiful net-zero future."

Looking across the stage at van Beurden, MacDonald said, "No matter what he says today, remember, Shell has spent millions covering up the warnings from climate scientists, bribing politicians, and even paying soldiers to kill Nigerian activists fighting against them, all whilst rebranding to make it look as though they care and that they have the intention of changing."

"Disproportionately in the Global South, so many people are already dying due to issues related to the climate crisis, such as pollution, extreme heat, and weather-related disasters," MacDonald continued, telling the CEO that "this is not an abstract issue, and you are directly responsible for those deaths."

"If you're [going to] sit here and say you care about climate action, why are you currently appealing the recent court ruling that Shell must decrease its emissions by 45% by 2030?" she asked, drawing audience applause. "I seriously do not understand what goes on in your mind to sit there and say, 'I'm trying to do better' when you're appealing... being legally [bound] to climate action."

"I hope that you know that we will never forget what you have done and what Shell has done," said MacDonald, adding that "I hope you know that as the climate crisis gets more and more deadly, you will be to blame," before walking off the stage to more applause.

MacDonald then joined climate campaigners under the #StopCambo and #PeopleVsFossilFuels banners rallying outside the summit venue against the U.K. government-backed Cambo oil field development off Scotland's Shetland Islands, and ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference—also known as COP 26—set to begin October 31 in Glasgow.

Daze Aghaji, another climate activist at the rally, said: "My family is from the Niger Delta, and I know the harm Shell has caused and continues to cause by pushing us closer and closer to climate devastation. This action is the youth saying enough is enough, asking the hard questions and demanding answers."

"We need Shell to commit to stopping the future harm caused by projects like the Cambo oil field," Aghaji added, "but also addressing the past harm like the murder of Indigenous activists."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New York Taxi Workers Stage Hunger Strike to Demand Medallion Debt Relief

"They are an essential industry here in New York City," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "and we need to make sure we're doing right by them."

Julia Conley ·


'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·


'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo