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Is It Time To Divest From Exxon?

Green Lifestyle  (tags: americans, business, CO2emissions, conservation, culture, environment, energy, greenliving, greenproducts, humans, organic, protection, recycling, society, Sustainabililty, water, world )

- 2003 days ago -
In making the appeal, McKibben and other speakers with the organization compared their crusade to the divestments that helped spell the end of the system of apartheid in South Africa.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 9:42 am
(Photo Credit: Bill McKibben. Image credit: Wikipedia)

Bill McKibben, the author and activist famous for halting the Keystone XL pipeline, led a rally in Washington, D.C. yesterday to build momentum toward a larger, harder and much more controversial goal: persuading colleges to drop their investments in companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and BP because the burning of their fossil fuel reserves will warm the planet beyond recognition.

“They’re trying to wreck our future,” McKibben told a jubiliant young crowd that nearly filled the 1,800-seat Warner Theater near the White House. “So we’re trying to take away some of their money.”

In making the appeal, McKibben and other speakers with the organization compared their crusade to the divestments that helped spell the end of the system of apartheid in South Africa. That movement, which in the United States started at universities in the 1970s, led to hundreds of colleges and many state governments excising South African investments from their portfolios. Worldwide capital flight and the moral condemnation that accompanied it led to the dismantling of apartheid in the early 1990s.

This time, however, the divestment campaign isn’t directed at an anachronistic government other side of the planet, but one of the America’s largest and most profitable industries that fills our gas tanks, lights our homes and directly employs hundreds of thousands of people.

If the fossil fuel industry actually unearths the $27 trillion of proven oil, gas and coal reserves it has in the ground, McKibben said, the planet will suffer “a hangover that will last for geologic time.”

“What we are trying to do is make the case that the fossil-fuel industry has behaved with such recklessness,” McKibben said. “They’ve known for many years what’s going on. You want proof that they’ve know what’s going on? Look at them lining up for permits to drill in the Arctic once they’ve melted it. They’ve known the truth about global warming for a very long time. They’ve behaved with such recklessness that at this point they deserve to lose their social license, their veneer of respectability.”

The reasoning of’s “Do the Math” tour goes like this: (Page 2)

The world’s governments agreed at the Copenhagen climate talks that the atmosphere can only tolerate the addition of another 565 gigatons of atmospheric carbon by 2050. This would keep the increase in planetary temperature below 2° C , a scenario that may head off a catastrophic rising of the seas, epic crop failure and a harmful acidification of the ocean. The 2-degree limit is “the reddest of red lines,” as McKibben called it.

However, the world’s fossil-fuel companies — those in coal, oil and natural gas — have proven reserves that, if burned, would add 2,795 gigatons of carbon to the atmostphere, five times above the red line. Since the adding of so much carbon would heat the planet to a point where it’s unlivable, he reasoned, then it is imperative that the fossil-fuel industry be stopped.’s specific presciption is that colleges, universities and other organizations with large holdings agree “to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.”

McKibben, a skinny and bookish professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, has found a large and passionate following among people frustrated with a lack of action on climate change, especially college students. In 2009, he and a cadre of undergrads founded and tipped off a viral “Day of Climate Protest” that led to 5,200 rallies in 181 countries, billed as the largest global rally in history. McKibben repeated the trick a year ago when he rallied the largest environmental protest ever outside the White House to halt the Keystone XL pipeline — an effort that turned the pipeline from a done deal to a political hot potato whose outcome is still in doubt. The Keystone XL effort continued yesterday with a rally outside the White House.

Divestment petitions are circulating at colleges around the country, especially at liberal Northeastern colleges such as Vassar, Harvard, Brown and the University of Vermont. The only school to divest so far is tiny, 584-student Unity College in Maine, which had for years been planning to shed its fossil-fuel holdings.

It is hard to overstate the size, importance and resources of the industry that the young climate-change movement is taking on. Exxon Mobil, Chevon and ConocoPhillips are the second-, third- and fourth-largest companies in the Fortune 500, respectively, and the energy industry as a whole is the third-largest in the United States.

Oil, natural gas and coal are a bedrock part of nearly every investment porfolio, not to mention integral to nearly every product and service that Americans use. And the oil and gas industries are entering new boom times. Just last week, the IEA announced that new hydrofracking techniques are producing so much oil that the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020 and that the U.S. could reach its long-sought-after goal of being energy independent by 2030.

But author Naomi Klein, in a prepared video statement at the rally, said the “global carbon cartel” is vulnerable when it comes to their most precious resource: money. “‘We’re going after them precisely where it hurts them the most,” she said.

David Ferris, Contributor | Forbes Magazine|

Roseann d (178)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 11:03 am
I've come to realize investing in Wall St. is investing in our own demise. Deforestation, irresponsible development, and of course the likes of Monsanto, Halliburton and other privatized companies supporting the military industrial complex, big oil, big ag, big pHARMus, it's pretty much everything that ails us. I can't be fighting them on the one hand and investing in them with the other.

SuSanne P (193)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 1:18 pm
Thank you Kit. My c/p isn't working right now:( but I wanted to acknowledge the last paragraph of the article. RECKLESSNESS, They KNEW and KNOW what they are doing. They just don't care $$$

Tamara Hayes (185)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 1:41 pm
I am with you on this one Pam. What the hell do the big oil companies plan to do with all of their money once they are living on a dead planet? Who will buy their oil then? Perhaps they should start investing in funeral parlors and grave lots.

Robert O (12)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 1:54 pm
It all comes down to corporate greed and lust for hand over fist profits at the expense of the planet. Thanks Kit.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 2:03 pm
Yes, it remains a riddle what the hell they are planning. There's already more reserve stored than could ever be burnedl, why drill for even more? The insanity MUST be stopped, who wants an ocean of oil with no earth and life left by 2030? They have never in their career done anything else so I assume they are unable to change to green business models. Mc Kibben will certainly make it clear that we DON'T HAVE another 20 Years for this, the time it took to bring down apartheid.
Thx Kit.

Aletta Kraan (146)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 2:54 pm
Noted, thanks !

greenplanet e (155)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 5:10 pm
Yep, cut subsidies to oil, coal and gas, and subsidize renewable, low-carbon energy sources.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday November 26, 2012, 7:51 am
No more subsidies for fossil fuels. Shore up Delaware/Kale so they don't have massive loopholes to maneuver huge amounts of cash; paying little or no taxes of any form. Scalar wave energy is universal energy. The controlling interests have all of Tesla's DC and alternative energy devices that still work. Nano technology coupled with solar is another viable energy source. The arguments that the technology and processing is expensive and still developmental allows the corporations to do two things: refrain from bringing them into existence until they have exhausted the amount of profit that can be made from fossil fuels and their machines and two - to control the production of viable alternative energy and machines until their agenda has been met demographically, technologically and politically. So take your drugs; eat your Monsanto; get your vaccines; and use our fast food facilities - think iodized salt; processed sugar; corn starch and corn syrup and fructose - OH MY! They're good for you! Please believe your doctor when he says you need these newest drugs or that elective surgery. Don't forget to have a good insurance plan - not that we won't find a way out of honoring it through some actuarial formula or other nefarious excuse.
Bring on 350.Org and damn the torpedoes. Your biggest weapon people is your purchasing power and your elective choice. No company will manufacture a product or offer a service that generates no profit; unless it is a lost leader that deceives you into spending money on something they want you to buy. A bargain isn't always a bargain and in this life there ain't no free lunch.

. (0)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:13 pm
Noted & posted.

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday November 26, 2012, 3:34 pm
Noted. *Sorry I can't send a star to Kit as I've sent one this week. And, Roseann, you are absolutely right! When some pension, retirement, etc. funds are invested, how do we know they're not invested in these corporations?...As you said, "fighting them on one hand, and investing in them with the other."
*I'm sorry I'm unable to send a star to Roseann as I've sent one this week....several stars for this one!

Past Member (0)
Tuesday November 27, 2012, 5:03 am
Thank you.
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