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2048

Donald Hueylman sat in his worn leather chair, overlooking the grim city which appeared to be painted with a soft orange brush from 6 stories to the earth. Sipping his coffee he looked at his agenda for the day that was prepared by his assistant. A greedy and ruthless executive people would deem him in his inner circles, however, public perception was a different story. He was praised as providing energy and power to so many of the cogs in the wheel that lived beneath where his feet were. Over the years working with local governments at first, then eventually having the reach to gain support at a federal level, there was nothing to stop him or his cause. Utility companies alongside the government had monopolized all aspects of life, from food and energy production to communications and transportation. All this was done "for the consumer", stripping any power a company had to compete in this environment eventually handing control and regulation to the various government bodies and committees that evolved over the years. The environmental collapse had transformed the world into a desolate wasteland, with people squeezed into overcrowded, polluted cities.



Donald sat atop one of these colossal government-favored corporations, controlling the strings of a vast puppet show only he and a few others knew the players. He reveled in the power and wealth that it brought him, never once pausing to consider the countless lives he had destroyed or the planet he had helped push to the brink of ruin, after all: out of sight, out of mind. But today he had to focus on getting prepared for his earnings call with investors and government agencies who oversee the subsidies progress, and he smiled slightly as he knew they would be pleased as it had been a busy year.


Donald sipped his rare blend of coffee as he approved the funding for lobbyists to maintain his stranglehold on politicians. When he started his career in the oil & gas industry in the summer of 2028 he learned several valuable lessons. The first one was that people were vocal about how much they cared about the environment, this was in fact probably the biggest lesson he learned. He knew that regardless of energy source, or whatever products purchased from Amazon-Mart as long as the carbon footprint was reflected and an electric vehicle delivered the product, they felt they did their part to protect the environment. Information he would later use to ruthlessly dominate his field as his career progressed.


He also learned how difficult it was to operate in the hydrocarbon space, that regardless of the science and realities, people wanted to move away from the "archaic and dirty" sources of energy such as hydrocarbons, and usually, it was at all costs. This feeling would guide him as he climbed the ladder. Lastly, he learned that the climate was the main driver in corporate strategies, and more surprisingly, he agreed with this mindset, although his alignment was more perverse. It didn’t matter how things were spun or communicated, you couldn’t hide the fact that people placed priority on the climate and its future.


The reduction of carbon footprint, a misinformed distrust and dislike for fossil fuels, as well as "climate first" crowd mentality was the blueprint or playbook he used as he staged his rise in success and power, only leaving damage and pollution on the wayside. After each acquisition and business dealings, he would only be delighted in watching his empire grow, even as the world around it crumbled.


Donald reflected on the year and what brought his company to success. The funding towards the crooked lobbyist was almost a necessity to continue to not only operate his business but if done correctly, would actually be artillery against the competition. With the lobbyist working closely with politicians, shaping energy policy that benefited his company and made it more difficult for the competition to operate. Another win-win for him and his industry. He also reflected on the two huge contracts he signed in foreign countries that nobody would visit unless they had business dealings, much less be able to point out on a map. Besides, it was through his successful lobbying that even if people did want to visit the countries and locations of his operations, the cost would be astronomical and not economical to travel to.


The contracts gave his company exclusive access to develop the rich minerals that lay underneath the surface of the small villages and towns that people would forget their names and faces would be a blur. With such a find they would surely increase their production and make a killing on the global markets. Taking a play from his playbook and protecting the environment and to counteract any public pushback or discord, the company would invest in marketing groups, Pubic Opinion Specialists which would be called “internet trolls” over two decades ago, news outlets and publications, as well as fund indie movie productions to support his cause. He knew perceptions and feelings would defeat facts and data, and he bet on that with every strategy.


Hearing an alert on his computer, Donald snapped back to reality, he glanced over and saw what he wanted to see before the board meeting that would take place in a short time. It was announced that Donald’s company has been awarded a lucrative opportunity in a resource-rich, but a corrupt, nation. the deal that would grant him unfettered access to the country's precious resources, hidden deep beneath the ground.


This was the feather in his hat he was hoping for before the meeting with the board. He could barely contain his excitement as began to read the comments that began pouring in. Some were the standard angry unemployed people who had nothing better to do than sit behind their computer of comfort and critique why and what he was doing was bad. He didn’t pay any attention to that. Others chimed in this was a great step as it would increase the supply and reduce demand, only helping the consumer at the end of the day as it would lower prices. Donald always grinned at these as people viewed business through the eyes of a freshman in a community college Econ class. Simple reasoning is what he called it, and he realized that the vast majority of the population fell in this group. What he would scan the comments for and then have them removed was any images or videos of where or how his company extracted the minerals from deep beneath the ground. These were bruises he didn’t like taking as he expanded his empire. His team of public opinion specialists (or POS) was tasked with quickly identifying these images and videos and then diluting it by spamming the message board or discrediting the contributor by smearing them from a past comment on some message board. It was pretty simple actually, and Donald actually enjoyed watching it.


Donald finished off his now cool coffee, stood up, and buttoned his coat as he prepared to walk out of his office to the board meeting that was down the hall that overlooked 75 floors beneath it. Before walking out of his office, he took a moment to gaze upon the city sprawled out before him, its sky blotted out by pollution and its streets choked with despair. Donald couldn't help but feel a twisted sense of pride. This world was his, and he would squeeze every last drop of life from it.


He strode confidently toward the head of the table, feeling the weight of his authority settling around him like a cloak. The faces of his fellow executives and placed government personnel looked up at him expectantly, eager to hear of the latest deal that would bring them even more wealth and influence, as they too had received the latest news. As he sat down he waited for the excitement to subdue and the attention to be turned towards him before he began the meeting. In the silence he paused a moment, closed his eyes, cleared his throat, and began the board meeting “Welcome to our annual board meeting of Lumos RenewTech, as you can see from the recent press release we are pleased to announce the contract in the District Republic of Congo has been approved and we will begin cobalt mining operations by Q3, resulting in a direct increase in our current assets.”

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