December 15, 2012
Climate change is real. The evidence is all around us. It is irrefutable. It hardly matters whether it’s human-caused, if, by our actions, we can slow it down. We need time to adapt. Our hydrocarbon-dependent lifestyles will not be sustainable long term. We may not run out of such fuels soon, but if we burn them too quickly, accelerating climate change, it won’t matter. The earth will survive, but we won’t.
Petroleum companies already have proven reserves sufficient, if developed, processed and burned, to quintuple the safe level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Left to their own devices, they’ll do it, without remorse, to secure a higher return for themselves and their investors. While they’re at it, they’ll spend time, money and other resources in a concerted effort to thwart every attempt suggested or made to curb their appetite, slow the burn rate, or revalue their inventory.
What should responsible investors do about reckless behavior conducted in their name? Protest and divest. 350.org’s nation-wide tour describes the challenge as the moral equivalent of the South African apartheid movement in the late 1970s. I find it hard to disagree. The smartest investment we can now make in our collective future is energy conservation. We need to sip, not guzzle fossil fuels. We can save money in the near term, while we secure a brighter future for our children.
The oil industry is going rogue. Divestment is the conservative choice.