The so-called “disinvestment” movement fails to meet any standard of moral legitimacy. Disinvestment sounds powerful but if those who have joined the campaign meant to sell their holdings in fossil energy companies, why didn’t they say that they had done so? If the goal is to discourage others from investing in those companies, then arrogance goes along with hypocrisy. The companies targeted in this campaign create jobs, advance technology, and contribute to a better world. For every not so smart seller, there is likely to be a smarter buyer who will benefit from misguided investment decisions.
According to Mary Robinson, the UN’s special envoy on climate change, the purpose of this movement is to use investor pressure to forces fossil energy companies to go out of business or to invest in what the UN and others like Al Gore and Tom Speyer consider responsible sources of energy. Advocates are responding to the fact that the world’s appetite for fossil energy is growing, not shrinking and human behavior is turning away from the constant message of a climate catastrophe in a future that like the horizon keeps receding as we approach it.
Gore, Speyer, and the other acolytes of the climate orthodoxy keep pushing an image that with the passage of time is more clearly being shown to be out of touch with reality. Their models of how the climate system works have failed miserably and the warming that was supposed to increase with increasing CO2 emissions has plateaued since the late 1990s. Looking back at our temperature records since the end of the Little Ice Age—the late 1800s—it is beginning to appear that the warming that began in the 1970s may just have been another part of the warming-cooling cycles that has taken place for the past 100+ years and much longer when you look at geologic history.
At a time when the effects of energy poverty are more evident with the tragic Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the immorality of the disinvestment campaign should make its proponents hide in a dark corner. If the more than 1.3 billion people who lack any commercial energy had access to fossil energy produced electricity, they could have access to a more sanitary and healthy way of life—potable water, refrigeration for medicines and the preservation of food, and proper cooking equipment. Instead they suffer from malnutrition, high disease and mortality rates, and little hope for a better future.
Developed economies that advanced economically using fossil energy possess the tools to more effectively address infectious diseases like Ebola and the effects of whatever changes in climate take place. If the disinvestment advocates had their way, at least 20% of the globe’s population would be condemned to a future of dread and several billion more would be stuck on the lower rungs of the economic development ladder. The Al Gore’s, Tom Speyer’s, and other environmental elitists already enjoy the benefits of abundant energy and the advanced technologies that energy has made possible. Their life styles are certainly not leading by example and those life styles disqualify them from lecturing the rest of the world of how to improve their standards of living.
The Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency both project that fossil energy will provide 80% of the world’s energy for several decades to come. If this campaign achieved its objective where would that energy come from? Certainly not wind and solar. Both are niche sources that suffer major technical deficiencies in addition to being intermittent. History has demonstrated that a rising standard of living brings with it the innovations that lead to a better quality of life. The technologies that people take for granted, especially information technologies like smart phones are only possible with reliable electrical power and that starts with coal.
The overarching goal of the disinvestment crowd is claimed to be a sustainable environment. A simple look at environmental facts—Steve Hayward’s Almanac of Environmental Trends—would convince any open minded person that our environment keeps getting better and we enjoy a much healthier environment than did our predecessors who lived before abundant, affordable, fossil energy. Sustainable development is being used to hide a pernicious agenda.
The disinvestment movement makes no environmental sense and no economic sense and should be relegated to the annals of folly.
This article appeared on the National Journal’s Energy Insiders weblog at http://disqus.com/wokeefe/