Skip to main content

Well, there couldn't be a better symbolism of yesterday's shareholder meeting at Chevron's San Ramon headquarters than today's headliner in the business section of the San Jose Mercury News: a bunch of inspired cyclists biking the math of climate change to the oil giant's front gate, sitting right on top of the article about the meeting during which Chevron CEO John Watson brags to shareholders about record oil profits.

100MEDIA36IMAG1403Chevron touts strong year, skeptics question company's environmental record

SAN RAMON -- During a contentious annual meeting Wednesday, Chevron executives touted the company's $26 billion in annual profit and robust production efforts, but skeptics peppered management with pointed questions about its environmental practices.

...

The annual meeting grew heated, with some speakers complaining about the time allotted to talk. One called for Watson to be fired. Another complained that Chevron was not tough enough in debunking what he described as the myth of global warming.

...

Outside the meeting at Chevron's headquarters in San Ramon, dozens of protesters demonstrated, brandishing signs saying "Free America from the tyranny of oil," "Fire Watson" and "Chevron makes orphans."

This may be the only time I'll ever be on the same page with Chevron CEO John Watson. I may not be a billionaire but I'm having a great time telling this fossil fool to stop living in the past and go renewable.

bike-the-math_chron2

The above clip is from today's business section in The SF Chronicle, which is behind a paywall, but the title Chevron CEO faces down critics ("Chevron Pushes Back" in the print version) gives you an idea of its drift.

There is, however, the very telling interview with John Watson on the SF Gate blog today where he says that cutting carbon will take a long time. He probably means until Chevron and their oily colleagues have drilled for every last drop and he's sipping tropical cocktails at his Arctic mansion.

“I think we can make some progress on carbon emissions as well, but I think it’s going to take a lot longer than people think if you’re going to balance out all of those factors.”
The next quote I had to read twice.
“One of the things that’s happened is we’re spending a lot of money subsidizing energy that isn’t going to get us to the kind of reduction in carbon emissions that people would like it to.”
First I thought he was talking about the $1.9 trillion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, which would be the only sensible thing to cut when you're talking about trying to reduce carbon emissions. But no, in John Watson's alternate universe it's solar and other renewable subsidies we should get rid off to bring down CO2 levels. Really, in this guy's carbon bubble we should stop wasting our money on that lazy old sun, the very source of all the fossil fuels it took millions of years to form — those same fossil fuels that will be gone if Chevron follows through on its current business plan to suck them out of the earth and burn them as quickly as possible.
While he stops short of calling money spent on solar power and other renewables wasted, Watson says the country should focus more on conservation and early-stage research on new energy technologies.
bike-the-math_14

He probably means the way Germany has been wasting all its money on solar and renewables and is well on its way to 35 percent renewables by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050. Did I hear "new energy technologies?" You couldn't possible mean for solar and other renewables, Mr. Watson?

Of course, his enthusiasm level for a carbon tax is very low.

While a carbon tax could drive conservation, Watson sounds less than enthusiastic.
So there. According to corporate philosopher Watson, there's nothing to see here and nothing we can or should do. Sure, conservation is key, but when was the last time you saw Chevron lobbying for higher energy efficiency? Aside from all the flowery PR, the attitude towards conservation by oil companies remains unchanged from what Goldman Prize winner and German renewable energy rebel Ursula Sladek encountered 30 years ago from her corporate power provider: "Conserve energy? Have you lost your mind? We want to sell energy, not save it!"

Closer to home and most recently, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson sums up the fossil industry's enthusiasm for conservation: "My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do."

As mighty freewayblogger pointed out the other day, Chevron should just change its name to 450.org.

And that's exactly why a bunch of concerned citizens and I BIKED the math to Chevron yesterday: to refute their lazy, greed-disguising argument that change is impossible and Chevron is just giving people what they want — more oil, more convenience, more waste, more pollution, more greenhouse gases.

Below the fold, photos and impressions. All photos are mine, except the ones credited otherwise.

bike-the-math_50

Bike the Math


Wednesday, May 29th 2013, Dublin/Pleasanton BART to Chevron HQ, San Ramon

Deb and I got up bright and early to catch the 6.45am BART train from SF. At Bay Fair a bunch of East Bay folks got on, including 350BayArea.org's Bill Pinkham, a seasoned activist whose experience with all things bike-related really helped in planning this trip.

I loved his personal pink slip for John Watson.

bike-the-math_01

Bill is an amazing advocate for clean energy and he always comes up with the right sign for each action.

bike-the-math_02

His permanent bike installation pretty much sums it all up.

When we got there, some were still snoozing...

bike-the-math_03

...while David Solnit, the veteran activist and kindred spirit who had hosted a flag making party last Saturday, had already mounted a bunch of flags to people's bikes.

bike-the-math_07

Here's David's flag, that wonderful Obama quote...

bike-the-math_amazonwatch1
photo: Amazon Watch

Of course, some had come to Blade the Math!

bike-the-math_06

The party didn't really start until Glen the Plumber and TLO arrived. TLO was the youngest member of our group and a total trooper. More on that below.

bike-the-math_08

After I got on my concrete soap box to tell folks how much I appreciated everyone coming out at the crack of dawn on a school day...

bike-the-math_debra-baida_02
photo: Debra Baida

We were off to the non-race, destination Chevron.

bike-the-math_debra-baida_03
photo: Debra Baida

There were about 40 of us as we got on the Iron Horse trail, with a few more catching up and joining later.

bike-the-math_11

It took a little while to figure out how to find the right flow and tempo, but once everyone realized how beautiful, mellow, and non-trafficky this route was going to be...

bike-the-math_debra-baida_04
photo: Debra Baida

...we just floated along in smaller groups.

bike-the-math_13

Here's Deb, during a break...

bike-the-math_15

It really was a perfect day, cool enough temperatures to ride, slowly warming up as we went...

bike-the-math_16

When we got to Bollinger Canyon Rd, we had one more pow wow.

bike-the-math_debra-baida_05
photo: Debra Baida

The plan was ride down the big suburban boulevard but take a right turn before the Chevron gate and loop around the block, so we would come out heading right towards the front gate for maximum effect. Instead of stopping there, we would turn left while hooting and hollering, then reconvene at the trail head and do the same thing again.

Off we went, into automobile central!

bike-the-math_debra-baida_06
photo: Debra Baida

Deb peeled off at the intersection, so she could catch a photo of us as we got to the intersection right across from Chevron. Stopped at the red light, ready to go!

bike-the-math_debra-baida_07
photo: Debra Baida

We could see Amazon Watch's awesome gigantic pink slip for Watson across the street.

bike-the-math_debra-baida_08
photo: Debra Baida

And here we come!!!!

bike-the-math_paul-chinn-SFchron
Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

And again!

bike-the-math_mark-du-frene_BNG
Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group

It was about 9.30am and people representing all kinds of groups had been there since shareholders arrived at 7.30am. The mood was great and there were people everywhere.

bike-the-math_27

Chevron makes sure that on this particular day nobody gets to step on their property marked by a line on the pavement. There were tons of cops enforcing that line, plus making sure nobody was in the street.

Police making sure I don't cross the street illegally.

bike-the-math_kirstin-miller_1
photo: Kirstin Miller

bike-the-math_32

That pretty much leaves the sidewalks. Glen & TLP parked themselves across the street...

bike-the-math_debra-baida_09

Everyone was just crammed onto the sidewalk...

bike-the-math_debra-baida_12
photo: Debra Baida

I started taking some pics of the people who had come out. The ones calling attention to Chevron's dirty money in politics, like MoveOn and Public Citizen, were getting the attention of commuters...

bike-the-math_22

Amazon Watch had brought 70 hazmat suits calling attention to the incredible pollution Chevron has caused in the Amazon...

bike-the-math_45

and the lovely women from the Asian Pacific Environmental Network had a lot to say about Chevron's safety and pollution record at the Richmond refinery.

bike-the-math_31

The stage was on the little raised green space, which I guess must still be part of the public sidewalk. Polly Rich of 350 Contra Costa gave an impassioned speech about the potential of solar and geothermal energy, with Amazon Watch's Adam Zuckerman behind her in a hazmat suit.

bike-the-math_29

Then I got to say a few words about how Chevron's business model is not only an utter human and environmental disaster but a very short-sighted and downright stupid long-term strategy.

bike-the-math_kirstin-miller_2
photo: Kirstin Miller

At around 10am shareholders started to come out, and I'm sure they were pretty surprised at this reception. I think there were about 200 people waving and hollering.

Right at the front entrance, an impromptu press conference got started, with folks like Servio Curipoma, a community representative from the indigenous communities suffering the effects of reckless oil explorations in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and Dr. Henry Clark, a fighter for environmental justice from Richmond for over 30 years, telling us how CEO Watson basically blew them all off.

bike-the-math_42

Here is Servio with a photo of his deceased mother and a bottle of "Chevron Water" from his native land he had dared Mr. Watson to drink, before being told by the billionaire CEO that he was being manipulated by greedy lawyers. (with RPA's Andres Soto, his translator Alex Goff, Dr. Clark, and Amazon Watch's Adam Zuckerman & Atossa Soltani).

bike-the-math_amazonwatch2
photo: Amazon Watch

With that, we got back on our bikes and rode the Iron Horse Trail for the second time that day, but this time TLO was leading the way.

bike-the-math_49

I'll leave you with a quote from TLO that sums it up quite nicely...

"I enjoyed the ride, I never rode 12 miles before. I think I did pretty good for the first time. I like the idea of Bike The Math because Chevron is polluting. I watched a video yesterday (ChevronToxico) and Chevron said that the oily water was full of vitamins of minerals, but here are some facts: it can cause cancer, death, severe illnesses causing amputation, and birth defects. Thank you for inviting us, Sven Eberlein."
No, thank YOU, TLO, knowing that you rode with us gives me hope for the future.

o~O~o~O~o~O~o~O~o~O~o~

crossposted at A World of Words

Originally posted to Ecomusings by Sven Eberlein on Thu May 30, 2013 at 04:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders and Climate Change SOS.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site