Climate blog

The fossil fuel industry is killing us

Published by Sam Page on 28 May 2013
“The problem with climate change is that it seems far too big for any one of us ourselves to take on.  Indeed it is.  It’s only when we’re working with other people, as many other people as possible, that we have any hope.”  Bill McKibben.
In the movie “Do the Math” Bill McKibben along with others, present some sobering facts about the situation we are facing if humanity continues with ‘business as usual’ in terms of a fossil fuel-based economy.  The biggest limit that we are running into may be that we’re running out of atmosphere into which to put the waste products of our society.  If we continue to dig up and burn the oil reserves available on the planet, we’re looking at further warming of potentially up to 4 degrees. It is questionable whether life could be sustained at this temperature.
“The planet’s going to be around for some time to come.  What’s at stake now is civilisation itself,” Lester Brown.
The thing that is preventing us from moving away from fossil fuels is the enormous political power wielded by those who have made and are making vast windfall profits from fossil fuels.  The externalities, the costs to society, to human health, the environment, are not factored in as a cost of doing business – we subsidise the fossil fuel industry through tax breaks, loans, armies that protect their trade routes, in effect we are paying them to continue polluting.  This helps them to stay on top and prevents renewable energies from competing.  We could be using that public money, taxpayer’s money, to make the shift to green energy.
“The fundamental fact is that as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will 
continue to be used,” Dr. Jim Hansen.
The environmental damage that is being caused by fossil fuels should be reflected in a carbon tax - it should pay to invest in renewables.  Institutions like universities, pension funds, churches and ethical banks should be encouraged to divest from fossil fuel companies.  
It was divestment in the 1970’s that led to the overthrow of the Apartheid movement in South Africa. 
“It is inconsistent with the reason these institutions (colleges) exist, for them to continue to invest in something that is dedicated to the destruction of civilisation and their future”, Dr. Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College, Maine.
“(Let’s) begin to invest in the future.  The past has a lobby, and it’s a well paid lobby... The future doesn’t have a lobby, until now,”  Van Jones, Former Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Obama Admin.
“Solutions will come when we all come together to find solutions that work for all of us, when we act as a community and do not do anything that will injure that community but instead build and knit that community together in a way that allows it to take powerful action.  We know the end of the story.  Unless we rewrite the script, it’s very clear how it ends, with a planet that just heats out of control.  So, it’s our job to rewrite the story,”  Bill McKibben.
Did you know that hydrocarbons are the most profitable enterprise in human history?  A top CEO makes US$100,000 per day. The top five companies made US$13 billion last year - that's US$375 million every day! These companies get US$6.6 million in tax breaks daily. US$440,000 a day is spent lobbying Congress.
You can also watch "Do the Math" movie... and find out more about the divestment campaign in the USA.
Read the Report by Carbon Tracker and the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute, which says that investing in fossil fuels is 'very risky' here...
Down-load the Guide to Ethical Funds, here...
Find out what Oxford University students are doing here...
And sign their petition, here...
This post was written by Lorna and Sam