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Do the Math

Posted by suzanne at Nov 08, 2012 03:05 PM |

McKibben’s message is simple, direct and powerful; we only have so much carbon we can burn, and the fossil fuel industry has more than five times that much on the table right now. The solution: take away their money.

Do the Math

Nick Abraham, Business Partnership Intern


By Nick Abraham
Climate Solutions

Bill McKibben’s Do the Math Tour  kicked off in Seattle last night and will travel across the country to talk about changing our investment strategies and pulling our finances from the fossil fuel industry.  The sold out crowd of 1,900 in Benaroya Hall listened to speakers like Van Jones, Namoi Klein, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, via video broadcast, discuss how our investments are funding a carbon-based economy. 

McKibben’s message is simple, direct and powerful; we only have so much carbon we can burn, and the fossil fuel industry has more than five times that much on the table right now.  The solution: take away their money. 

Our pensions, mutual funds, and 401k’s are far too often tied to the fossil fuel industry.  To switch ourselves away from carbon, we need to cut off our fossil fuel addiction at the source.  He points out the irony of “investing our retirement accounts in an industry that assures we won't have a world to retire in.”

Increased disasters, hunger, and disease, due to climate change, is a human rights issue, and ought to treated as such.  The world has responded to human rights crises with this same divestment strategy before. In protest to the Apartheid, citizens all across the world urged their schools, banks, and companies to stop investment in South Africa until the abuses stopped.  Embargoes and sanctions are continuously used to show that blatant disregard for people’s lives is something the world is not willing to tolerate.   Bill McKibben is calling for the same model to be applied to the current climate crisis, but put towards an industry, rather than governments. 

The clean energy economy is on the rise and here to stay. People all across the globe are finding innovative ways to try and shift away from our fossil fuel based society. Renewable energy is flourishing, corporate sustainability has become a badge of honor, and alternative transportation is cool again. But, the message of this tour is that while we build this new economy, we also need to divorce ourselves financially from the major culprits and address the money trail that finances global climate change.

Our window for stemming the climate change tide (pun intended) is closing, and the numbers are too terrifying to ignore. McKibben’s Rolling Stone article brought to light the sobering reality that with the amount of carbon the fossil fuel industry has on the books, we will be at a 6 degree, unrecognizable planet, level of global temperature rise. At that level, global climate change becomes more than just an environmental disaster. Droughts, famine, disappearing islands – these impacts are not part of some arbitrary distant future scenario, it’s happening now. 

A carbon-based economy is something we simply can no longer afford.

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