Tilting at Fossil Fuels

quixote and sancho panza

Saint McKibben continues with his efforts to portray “the fossil-fuel industry” as a mere bad apple that could somehow be killed off through divestment.

In truth, fossil fuels are far more integral to corporate capitalism than McKibben acknowledges, not least because corporate capitalism is utterly dependent not on fossil fuels, but on automobiles and economic waste. If we don’t move to minimize automobile use, oil (and other fossil fuels) will continue to get produced and burnt.

McKibben wants to have his cake and eat it, too, on this topic. In his latest self-explanation, he says that “fossil-fuel financing accounts for only about seven per cent of Chase’s lending and underwriting.” This not only begs the question of the internal profitability of fossil fuel businesses, but also implies that fossil fuels are really only 7 percent of the overall corporate capitalist economy.

The elementary facts, meanwhile, are these:

ExxonMobil reported a net income of $20 billion dollars in 2018.

Meanwhile, just the U.S. automobile sector alone is several times larger in its overall economic impact than McKibben’s silly 7 percent number.

It also happens to now be our #1 source of GHG emissions in the good ol’ US of A.

Somehow, though, cars never make it into McKibben’s diagnosis:

It’s all but impossible for most of us to stop using fossil fuels immediately, especially since, in many places, the fossil-fuel and utility industries have made it difficult and expensive to install solar panels on your roof. But it’s both simple and powerful to switch your bank account.

Solar panels and credit unions? Seriously? This movement is in deep trouble, folks. We aren’t going to sweet-talk our way around the huge problems we’re facing in this make-or-break century. We must speak the truth about power, and Bill McKibben doesn’t do that.