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This article: Why the Petro-Divestment Movement Is Unstoppable is a possible forerunner of things to come.  

Why would growing numbers of students and faculty collectively challenge the energy future being actively pursued by our prime minister? The short answer resides in a simple report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2012, a report estimating that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground if run-away climate change is to be avoided. The economic implications of these findings are massive.
 We are in the midst of monumental struggle and we know the outcome in advance.  You may disagree, but I have both time and reality on my side.  
Since current valuation of fossil fuel companies includes reserves yet to be extracted, keeping these reserves in the ground means trillions of dollars in devaluation. This is the basis for what is increasingly being called the "carbon bubble." This term refers to the inflated value of fossil fuel companies, since current share prices include fossil fuel reserves that are unburnable if we want to maintain the biophysical preconditions for human prosperity. Either the carbon bubble bursts, or climactic stability bursts. A stable climate system is more essential to the human enterprise, by all metrics, than the share prices of one industrial sector.
 If you doubt this then read on below and we will deal with the sources of your skepticism.

Ouir President may be more on top of things than many realize:  

The divestment movement is working to break the political deadlock on climate change by challenging the social license to operate fossil fuel companies still enjoy. This challenge will make it easier for governments to impose the kind of measures that are inevitable, but more effective if implemented sooner. These measures include disincentivizing fossil fuel consumption through robust carbon taxation, and incentivizing clean energy alternatives through large public investments in research, deployment and infrastructure. The divestment movement is helping lay the cultural and political groundwork for accelerated government action.
 

We in the USA have been partially blinded by massive efforts to deny and misinform that cost billions.  The political theater this has created is the topic of many a diary here.  Yet a question arises among all this lunacy.  How real is the the theater we are are experiencing?  Oh it is real in the trivial sense but look deeper.

Unlike the other divisive issues of our time like abortion, for example, the climate change issue is one that transcends human values and actually raises questions about the survival of animals, plants, and a good share of the human race.  It, as an issue, links in some vital way to every other important issue we deal with.  The link between profits from selling fossil fuels and the state of our global economy is irrefutable.  The fact that Thomas Piketty has a best seller out there right now is no coincidence.

Here's an other facet of the same gem:Climate change denial, laissez-faire economics and conspiracy theories: A productive pairing?  

Climate change denial, laissez-faire economics, conspiracy theorizing. A new study suggests that these rather diverse belief systems may lie on a continuum. That climate change denialists don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming is a given, but are there other more general indicators of their belief system that include climate change denial as a subset?

This is the question that a group of psychologists from the University of Western Australia and the University of Zurich sought to answer. They found that climate change denialists also seem to display two other characteristics; a belief in laissez-faire capitalism and more troublingly, a tendency to espouse conspiracy theories. The correlation of climate change denial with free market capitalism was stronger and not completely unsurprising but the correlation with a conspiratorial mindset is more unexpected and intriguing.

 This should come as no surprise.  It should not be necessary to remind anyone that "free market capitalism" is as much a myth as a topic for serious discussion.

It is hard to see people who study  notions like Sustainability as conspiratorial.  It is audacious at best to attack scientists on the grounds that they are fronts for some "movement" secretly designing to take over the world.  Yet we are experiencing this theater every day.  So what is the meaning of such theater?  

Is it that the forces behind denial have something very real to fear?  I believe so.  They are not so worried about the future of the planet as they are the fragility of the system that makes them rich and powerful.  If you had their values and were feeling that threatened you would try anything to hold on.  The idea that the system you built could be adapted to the values of a sustainable global economic  system is not even near the surface of the fears they feel.  What they fear is exposure.  Exposure of their many systematic acts aimed at holding on to what they have at all costs.  This totally antisocial behavior is something they know will be their downfall.

So we may be watching the beginnings of a dance of death.  The dance will be ugly and cause unnecessary harm but they don't care.  The web they have woven is too complex and too far reaching.  I can't even feel pity for them.  They have imprisoned so much of humanity that where they are is the real haven for criminals.  

As always when such things unravel, the people who were serving them, for whatever reason, will have been damaged deeply, maybe beyond repair.  The times we must pass through now are going to be hard for everyone.  The Divestment movement is a forerunner.  That which will follow will be monumental.  As usual, we really don't need a weatherman to tell which way the winds are blowing.

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The fossil fuel economy

21%13 votes
1%1 votes
20%12 votes
46%28 votes
10%6 votes
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| 60 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:33:51 PM PDT

  •  While oil companies like Exxon (6+ / 0-)

    Have tens of billions of barrels of reserves, their stocks trade mostly based on their PE ratios, or how much they're making today.  Exxon made about $30 billion last year, and they trade at about a 13 multiple of earnings, so their market cap is about $400 billion. That amount is nowhere close to the value of their reserves less their debt.

  •  Good points. But I must defend those who "believe (4+ / 0-)

    in conspiracy theories."  It's not just climate-deniers, it's also anyone with an ounce of observational clarity.

    Who doubts that people conspire (plan together) to accomplish their goals, and that many times they find it expedient to keep these plans from being known?  And are we really so naive as to believe that every one of these conspiracies is ultimately revealed?

    Here's Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations:  "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices…. "

    JFK, Iraq, 9/11 (whichever side you pick), Poland invades Germany, the Gulf of Tonkin, LIBOR, the CIA overthrows of many (Mossadegh, Allende, Arbenz, Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, etc), ALEC, Johns-Manville (asbestos), the tobacco industry (cancer), etc etc etc.

    I won't go on & on.  I do respect Kos' pov on conspiracies on DK....he's got a blog to run and these things can get nutty and overwhelm more productive areas of focus.  But let's not ourselves be blinded to the realities of conspiracies, which are frequent, not rare.  Imo, of course.

    •  I have a theoretical alternative to (0+ / 0-)

      conspiracy theories.  It is systems theory which asserts that in a self repairing complex system the role of individuals is minimal.  Things happen to stabilize the system in spite of human effort.

      This is the subject of books so don't pass judgement on these few inadequate words.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:35:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree in the sense that there is, of course, a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, Odysseus

      conspiracy to commit racism and discrimination, for example. According to traditional anti-CT theory, conspiracies are rare, especially those involving lots of people, because nobody can keep a secret. Now, sure, most people go to some pains to avoid being caught red-necked, er, red-handed, turns out secrecy is often less necessary than widespread denial.

      Consider again, for example, the enormous conspiracy wherein Wall St. defrauds people and finds ways to shave "earnings" from "customers" all in the name investment, finance, job creation, and apple pie. Again, they get caught and, heck, they don't even have to deny it sometime (HSBC and drug-money laundering) and get away with a simple parking ticket.

      So, when people suggest that the oligarchs are not actually conspiring to squeeze the 99% dry, I say, of course they are. And they can talk about it in plain, capitalist English. They are simply engaging in free market enterprise, which any game of monopoly will show is all about killing off all the competition. Since Republicans and the Third Way have blessed the free market, it's clear sailing for oligarchy.
       

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Racism is no "conspiracy" it is one of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Septima, penelope pnortney

        systematic ways the oligarchs keep their subjects divided against themselves.  It has been one of many such ploys used for centuries.

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:00:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, well, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don mikulecky, Odysseus

          I would call that "systematic way" a conspiracy of one group against another.

          I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

          Trust, but verify. - Reagan
          Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

          by Words In Action on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:42:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the best way out is to change the meaning (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Words In Action

            of "conspiracy" to suit your needs  Conspiracy theory

            A conspiracy theory is an explanatory proposition that accuses two or more persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an illegal or harmful event or situation.

            Some scholars suggest that people formulate conspiracy theories to explain, for example, power relations in social groups and the existence of evil forces. It has been suggested by some thinkers that conspiracy theories have chiefly psychological or socio-political origins. Proposed psychological origins include projection; the personal need to explain “a significant event [with] a significant cause;" and the product of various kinds and stages of thought disorder, such as paranoid disposition, ranging in severity to diagnosable mental illnesses. Similarly, socio-political origins may be discovered in the need of people to believe in event causation rather than suffer the insecurity of a random world and universe

            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:50:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, with something like $100 billion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, VClib, Justanothernyer

    in * profits * last year, they're definitely skating  on thin, thin ice.

    •  you seem to be missing the point (4+ / 0-)

      when the change occurs it will not be gradual.  The whole point of what the divestment movement is forecasting is a fall in demand

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:11:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  with the amount of profits coming in the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky, VClib, Justanothernyer

        companies will be easily able to buy up their own shares, if needed.

        perhaps at bargain basement prices, to boot.

        Also, many if not most oil companies outside of the US/UK are state owned - until these governments opt to divest, the effect would be minimal.

        The point being that unless demand is dampened, nothing else is going to have a measurable effect.   One would almost think that 30 or 40 years of the "drug wars" would have firmly inked that thought on the American psyche, but it seems not to have made an impression.

        •  That was my point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Septima, penelope pnortney
          unless demand is dampened, nothing else is going to have a measurable effect.
          the divestment movement is breaking the usual rules of what makes stock desireable

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:31:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I totally get that if an individual person (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            don mikulecky, VClib, Justanothernyer

            does not want to invest in fossil fuels so as to not have blood on their hands, so to speak, wrt to facilitate global warming.

            That's all well and good.

            There is absolutely no evidence, however, that this will at all dampen the actual production and use of this shit, however.

            All it will do is put the profits in the hands of a different set of people.   Worse people, probably.

            •  If you read the diary we are NOT (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              penelope pnortney

              talking about individual persons but large organizations.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:26:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Depends on how many degrees of separation. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PeteZerria, don mikulecky

              If mutual funds demand carbon accounting, they're going to get it.  And once that information is known, there will be pressure to modify the supply chain.

              Bloomberg.com: Intel Stiff-Armed Pursuing African-Mine Conflict Minerals

              Duran and her team focused on trying to certify suppliers. That involves conducting an audit of the supplier or getting the smelter to submit to one by a third-party firm, seeking to prove that smelters have records showing they don’t use ore from mines controlled by the armed gangs. She started tracing where the metals in Intel’s supply chain originated and identified smelters, which turn ore into metal, as the point where the market for the smuggled materials could be choked off.
              Fossil fuels can be treated the same way.  Certification, with teeth, that businesses do not use them.  100% green energy can be much more than just a marketing blurb.

              -7.75 -4.67

              "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

              There are no Christians in foxholes.

              by Odysseus on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 10:44:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The oil companies don't care if lots of (3+ / 0-)

            pension funds and endowments sell all their oil and gas stocks. If the prices and yields are attractive enough new mutual funds will be created just to buy and own them. And/or the oil companies will just buy back the public shares and go private. I think the disinvestment move is laudable, but will have no impact on the behavior, or financial future, of the major oil and gas companies.

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:07:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  RG - good point about OPEC (3+ / 0-)

          Most of the world's oil reserves are not held by the likes of Exxon, but the OPEC, and other countries, who depend on oil to fund their entire economies. The marginal cost to deliver a barrel of Saudi oil to a port is about $10. The Saudis aren't going to stop pumping oil.

          "let's talk about that" uid 92953

          by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:36:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  don - the change will be gradual (3+ / 0-)

        and driven by technology adoption which is rarely overnight.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:32:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  again...your crystal ball is linear? (0+ / 0-)

          most change in the real world s rather abrupt

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:20:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What will cause a linear change away from all (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            don mikulecky, Justanothernyer

            fossil fuels? A rapid move from coal to natural gas? OK, that could happen. But a rapid change from all fossil fuels? How would that happen?

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:30:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that would be non-linear (0+ / 0-)

              that's the point

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:39:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  My error - what would cause a non-linear change? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                don mikulecky

                "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:48:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have no crystal ball (0+ / 0-)

                  Divestment could snowball and other events happen in harmony.  What he climate itself will do is not predictable yet it is behaving in a non-linear fashion now

                  Attitudes internationally are changing fast.  Other countries see this more clearly not being blinded by the American theatrics.

                  People may actually start caring.  That will b e a big factor.

                  An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:57:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The entire world economy runs on oil (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    don mikulecky

                    It is the glue that keeps everything connected. That is why it is so valuable. There is no way to quickly change, without plunging the world into a depression.

                    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                    by VClib on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 10:01:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Read our book...it MUST happen (0+ / 0-)

                      Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

                      The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse

                      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                      by don mikulecky on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 07:54:21 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  don - it's not going to happen for three reasons (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        don mikulecky

                        First, leaders in democracies don't have the political power to inflict the kind of change in life style it would require. We can't turn the clock back 100 years where most people lived on farms and were self sustaining. Leaders in autocracies who have fossil fuel deposits will keep pumping oil until the wells run dry, because that is how they maintain power. Leaders in third world countries who have no fossil fuel deposits are probably in the best situation because alternative energy like wind and solar provide enough power to keep their citizens happy. However, they aren't the problem because their fossil fuel consumption is very modest on a per capital basis.

                        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                        by VClib on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 08:14:45 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It IS going to happen for one reason (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          unfangus

                          The planet is responding and the limits WILL be reached.

                          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                          by don mikulecky on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 08:45:50 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  But that isn't going to happen for the next (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Roadbed Guy

                            generation or two. And my then there may be some clever answers that are developed. Democracies are wonderful, and I would never change them, but they don't respond well to threats that are decades away.

                            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                            by VClib on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 08:59:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and you are a denier (0+ / 0-)
                            then there may be some clever answers that are developed
                            There is NO third way...either change or suffer

                            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                            by don mikulecky on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:20:59 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I am afraid we are going to suffer (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            don mikulecky

                            and not just in the US, because democracies can't respond soon enough. I think President GHWB said it the most clearly, from a political perspective  "the American way of life isn't negotiable". If we have Democratic politicians promoting policies that require significant sacrifice by average US voters they will be voted out of office by Republicans, who will tell them those sacrifices aren't necessary. People don't want to pay more for their air conditioning, or gas for their car.

                            The cost of not changing will need to become much more tangible than it is today, or will be for the foreseeable future, for the citizens of democracies to respond in large enough numbers to matter.

                            I am in no way a denier and have been very active in solar and alternative energy and storage technology development since 1988. However, I am a student of politics.

                            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                            by VClib on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:31:03 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  we disagree (0+ / 0-)

                            I too am a "student of politics".  In my school you still are a denier.

                            Your form of denial is the most damaging kind.  You claim awareness yet argue that efforts to change are doomed.  There are only two alternatives.  Mine gives hope.  Yours is doom.

                            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                            by don mikulecky on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 10:28:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  6+ years into the Obama administration and... (4+ / 0-)

    ...the oil companies are still planning on getting $14.4 billion in tax breaks over 10 years.

  •  Two points (3+ / 0-)

    1. Divestment is a good idea socially and psychologically, but it is a drop in the bucket economically. The real hammer on fossil carbon is Grid Parity, where renewable energy becomes cheaper than carbon fuels. It is not a point in time, but a process, because different energy sources have different costs and efficiencies in different locations, and government can apply various incentives or disincentives.

    But Grid Parity for wind is now widespread, as also for rooftop solar. Power plant scale solar is at Grid Parity in Hawaii, where sun is plentiful, and carbon fuels have to be shipped in very expensively.

    Costs for wind and solar continue to fall quite rapidly. Already Goldman Sachs has been telling anybody who will listen not to invest in coal-fired power plants or coal export terminals.

    When technology and markets speak, and real money is at stake, bloviating politicians and professional denialists cease to matter in reality, no matter how much they may dominate the echo chamber.

    We will be quite astonished one day when fossil carbon is dying, and only renewables are built out, and finally the noise dies away. The only remaining question for electricity generation will be how long it will take to replace existing carbon-burning plants.

    Electric cars are similarly approaching the takeoff point, and we can see how to move to all-electric trains. Biofuels for trucks and aircraft will take more work, but we will get there, too. Then we will have to work out how to go strongly carbon-negative until we can create enough global cooling to get back to the previous normal.

    2. Conspiracy Theories are of the essence of Denialism, so it should be no surprise to find CT in the minds of Denialists. They say themselves that Global Warming is a hoax, and claim that scientists are in a global conspiracy to get lots of grant money and to destroy civilization and the economy. It all follows from the previous Darwinist Conspiracy against God and Morality.

    The same is true for vaccine denial, AIDS denial, denial of Keynesian economics, and many other such cases.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 12:47:54 AM PDT

    •  But interestingly, or maybe strangely, (0+ / 0-)

      under the new EPA proposal for reduced carbon reductions, Hawaii hardly has to make any cuts at all . .. .

      But Grid Parity for wind is now widespread, as also for rooftop solar. Power plant scale solar is at Grid Parity in Hawaii, where sun is plentiful, and carbon fuels have to be shipped in very expensively.
      You'd think with what you say, they'd be required to do an almost complete phaseout (ala Washington State)

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