Ecofascists Needed an Enemy, So They Chose Fossil Fuels
Divestment does not simply focus upon climate change or green living, but rather de-funding the fossil fuel industry.
What began as a single campaign on a college campus in 2010 has grown into a worldwide movement. It does not simply focus upon climate change or green living, but rather de-funding the fossil fuel industry. They call it divestment.
Fossil fuel divestment, the opposite of investment, means the selling of fossil fuel stocks. Recalling the successful 1980s divestment campaign against Apartheid, fossil fuel divestment advocates hope to create both financial and social pressure to ruin the fossil fuel industry, thus preserving the planet. Whether it’s college students protesting for the divestment of the school’s endowment or citizens marching for the divestment of the state’s pension, the movement has become a popular way for people to feel like they’re fighting to save the earth from both the disaster of climate change and the evil of corporations.
Bill McKibben, one of the leading advocates of the divestment movement, co-founded 350.org, a global climate change advocacy group that has held 20,000 rallies in every country in the world except North Korea (wonder why). In 2012, he wrote in Rolling Stone, “A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies. … And enemies are what climate change has lacked.”
That’s right — in order to transform the climate change debate into a movement, McKibben and his fellow ecofascists needed an enemy. So he started the divestment movement that casts the fossil fuel industry and those who invest in its companies as the morally sinister destroyers of the environment. McKibben’s admission of creating an enemy to bolster his campaign should delegitimize the moral claims of the movement. But it hasn’t.
GoFossilFree.org, one of the leading voices in fossil fuel divestment, speaks of the supposed moral motivations for its cause:
Fossil fuel divestment takes the fossil fuel industry to task for its culpability in the climate crisis. By naming this industry’s singularly destructive influence — and by highlighting the moral dimensions of climate change — we hope that the fossil fuel divestment movement can help break the hold that the fossil fuel industry has on our economy and our governments.
Go Fossil Free holds the fossil fuel industry responsible for destroying the planet and morally injuring its inhabitants. While McKibben created an enemy, Go Fossil Free has made the fight against that enemy a “moral” one, citing floods and natural disasters allegedly caused by climate change.
However, one study notes that deaths related to climate (flood, drought, storms, extreme heat or cold) have dropped 98% since 1920. The energy industry has facilitated this decline through building better homes, heating, air conditioning, proper irrigation and disaster warning systems. That sort of steals the, er, thunder of the ecofascists’ hyperbolic claims.
Another fallacy upon which the divestment movement relies is that fossil fuels have created extreme amounts of pollution. Yet according to Forbes, air pollution in the U.S. has declined 72% since 1970 despite a 47% total increase in energy use. In addition, developed countries that use fossil fuels have cleaner environments than underdeveloped countries where dumping waste in rivers and streams prevents access to clean water. In fact, one of the key differences between third world and first world countries depends upon access to reliable energy.
Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” notes that there are seven billion people on the planet who need access to inexpensive, reliable energy in order to flourish. Yet three billion people have virtually no energy. For much of the world, lack of energy, not use of energy, has been the greatest barrier to growth and productivity.
While the divestment movement has succeeded in creating both an enemy and a moral cause based upon fear and guilt, the evidence points to the reality that energy has helped hedge against climate-related disasters and provided food and health care to aid human life. Divesters fail to grasp how energy powers every modern convenience from a warm shower (natural gas), to adequate hospital care (electricity), to food (diesel-powered farm equipment), and they offer few, if any, real solutions to our planet’s energy needs. Perhaps they should invest in our future instead of trying to undermine it.