Tag Archives: ethics

Fossil Fuels: The Emperor’s New Clothes

An important message from Grist and sponsor DivestInvest Individual, thanks very much to Jeff Tangel, INC, Environmental Critique, and The Tecumseh Project.

“As a Grist subscriber, you may know that renewable energy already employs more people and women than coal, oil and gas combined.1 In the next few decades, we could create another 2 million good green jobs.2 And that new economy won’t just be cleaner, it will also be more equitable!

So divesting and investing in good green jobs means saving the planet and creating a more just society. But the fossil fuel industry is pushing back, spending billions on messaging and P.R. to hijack our future.”


Learn more at a divestment presentation by Chicago 350 founder Melissa Brice, the first event of the Chicago Climate Festival!

1 – Smith, Heather. “There are more jobs in renewable energy than in oil, gas, and coal combined” Grist
2 – Sadasivam, Naveena. “Economy Would Gain Two Million New Jobs in Low-Carbon Transition, Study Says” InsideClimate News

Image Source: http://climatechange.lta.org/renewable-energy-siting/



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Filed under Chicago Climate Festival, Climate Change, Uncategorized

Brian Massumi valuing Guattari’s Virtual Ecologies

Rich presentations from Brian Massumi and Jane Bennett, via the virtual ecology of (you guessed it) synthetic zero.

Video post.

Source: Brian Massumi valuing Guattari’s Virtual Ecologies

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@billmckibben Aug 17 USA this a.m.: 80k evacuated in CA fires; 40k homes damaged in LA flooding; 100s protesting NDak. pipeline. We’re losing, but we’re fighting

Might have to make that our new motto “We’re losing, but we’re fighting”

Source: @billmckibben Aug 17 USA this a.m.: 80k evacuated in CA fires; 40k homes damaged in LA flooding; 100s protesting NDak. pipeline. We’re losing, but we’re fighting

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Fossil Fuel Divestment in a Nutshell

The following informal analytical summary is based on secondary research conducted for Chicago 350. I  reviewed a variety of academic and media articles, and have cited select accessible sources.

A great deal of information about fossil fuel divestment is available on environmental activist sites.  Divestment campaigns are not ultimately targeted to the converted, however.  Almost everything published betrays a bias.  And the financial stakes for governments and institutions seem high, in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.  While conducting fresh research to orient myself to this still  controversial issue, I found articles that supported the financial case for divestment and articles that argued against it. For this reason I concluded that short-term investment arguments are not the most persuasive. More compelling are the long-term economic arguments and projections. On one hand, investing is all “speculation,” but on the other hand, public opinion and policy will likely stigmatize fossil fuel industries and affect their market value. Technological and economic trends also suggest that alternative energy will soon replace fossil fuels as a primary source of the world’s energy.

Alternative energy costs are declining steadily, as technology progresses and market share increases, and these costs are already competitive with fossil fuel costs in some contexts. The long-range outlook for fossil fuels, conversely, is grim and most experts are confident that the fossil fuel market is peaking.[1] A large portion of existing reserves will become “unburnable” “stranded assets,” due to government policies and market factors influenced by climate change.[2] Indeed, government policies that count on exploiting all existing reserves clearly contradict existing climate-change goals and commitments.[3] Some experts argue that investment banks are blind to the risk, and less concerned than fossil fuel companies, because they are primarily interested in generating fees.[4]


Number Image – Fossil Fuel Subsidies 5x more than Renewables  by Alisa Singer

From a broader perspective, legislators and citizens should be informed about and concerned with the various economic implications of continuing to invest in fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is much more heavily subsidized than the renewable energy industry, which makes it less economically efficient.[5] Continuing to invest in fossil fuels thus drains national and regional resources in general. Also governments should invest in clean energy jobs and training before the “carbon bubble” bursts, to ensure a smooth transition in terms of education, employment, and infrastructure adaptation, all of which have short- and long-term economic implications.[6] As in most environmental debates, citizens and legislators tend to be shortsighted. If our current economic woes are a result of previous shortsighted policies, then reacting in the same manner now only passes the buck to the next generation and increases the problem.

Image and image data sources:

[1] “The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity”http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-13/we-ve-almost-reached-peak-fossil-fuels-for-electricity

[2]“Carbon Bubble & Divestment Trouble: An Analysis | The JEI” http://www.thejei.com/carbon-bubble-divestment-trouble-investor-reactions-an-analysis/ ; “Most Fossil Fuels ‘Unburnable’ Under 2C Climate Target” http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30709211

[3] “Most Fossil Fuels ‘Unburnable’ Under 2C Climate Target” http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30709211

[4] “How Should Investors Manage Climate-Change Risk?”http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2497514&download=yes ; “Investment Bank Blindness to Risk in Fossil-Fuel Sector” http://ieefa.org/banker-blindness-fossil-fuel-sector-risk/

[5] “Energy Subsidies” http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/resources/energysubsidies/

[6] “Divesting from Fossil Fuels: How Cities can Help Solve the Climate Crisis”


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Filed under Climate Change, commons, Policy


By: Lori Duchrow·Rhinelander, WI

Re-posted from Center for Humans & Nature.


Image, added by Environmental Critique, “low tide” by Randall Honold at dylar addict.

“Everyone on this earth is entitled to clean, safe drinking water. Clean drinking water is not a commodity to be used for profit, and laws will be necessary to ensure corporations cannot control the water supply. Nestlé, for example, is already trying to do just that. Legislators must do everything possible to protect our water.  Those that deny climate change and its impact on our air and water, have no business in political office. We have to take action now before it is too late.

The powers that be in Wisconsin, our Governor Scott Walker in particular, are destroying our waters at a very fast pace. Expansion of agri-business, rolling back environmental protections, restricting the powers of the DNR, reducing funding for research—these are just a few of the things that have occurred in just the past year.  In February, legislation was quietly signed that enables owners of high-capacity wells to replace those wells at any time, with larger wells of any size without state oversight. This is already having an impact in Portage County.”

Read more of this post here.

See complete discussion, “What are our Moral and Civic Responsibilities to Water?” here.

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Can democracy in crisis deal with the climate crisis?

From Center for Humans & Nature


Question Background:

How can a struggling democracy tackle one of the most critical challenges the world faces? Contributors from across the disciplines share their ideas on the interconnections between rejuvenating the democratic process and addressing the climate crisis. How do you perceive a moral pathway forward? We encourage you to share your insights with our thinking community.

Beyond the Dual Crisis: From Climate Change to Democratic Change

In many ways, the maintenance of an environment adequate to human health and well-being is the ultimate public good, and indeed a global one at that. I suggest that it also should be recognized as a prominent human right, since environmental sustenance is a fundamental condition for each person’s life and agency.[1] Current processes of climate change threaten both this common good and individuals’ development of capacities and fulfillment of goals. Yet, these processes harm people unequally and differentially and thus raise issues of global justice. They have more grievous effects on structurally disadvantaged people than on the affluent, who are also better situated to mitigate or adapt to the pernicious consequences.

Continue reading here.

Democracy and Climate Change: How Cities Can Do What States Can’t

[ . . .] It is pretty obvious, however, that we do not live in the ideal democratic world. In our real world of corrupted, minimalist democracy, we privilege individual, special-interest thinking and ask citizens to do no more than express their private preferences. We confound opinion and knowledge and sometimes even seem to think that by denying expert science we honor “democratic” thinking (as if shared ignorance and democracy were the same thing). In this corrupted version of democracy, “now” trumps “later,” today takes precedence over tomorrow, and no one takes responsibility for that greater democracy about which Edmund Burke spoke—the democracy that encompasses not only the interests of the living, but the interests of those who are gone and those as yet unborn. Generational thinking can only be cultivated in a setting of prudent deliberation; contrarily, our short-term present-mindedness shrinks the temporal zone.

Read full Contributor Response here.

See more responses, including “Currencies of Movement Are the Key” by Bill McKibben here.

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Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary

Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary

“If Harambe and his gorilla family lived in sanctuary rather than on display at the Cincinnati Zoo, he would still be alive. No curious child would have been in a position to crawl into the enclosure and no care staff would have had to make the horrible decision to kill a highly endangered gorilla. The gorillas would interact with each other and caregivers when they decided to; would exercise their bodies and minds as they wanted; and would be free to make choices about how to spend their time. Many respectable sanctuaries report on the personalities and interests of the animals who live there, so the public can get to know them. Some sanctuaries have live webcams. Supporters may be invited to pitch in on site and special educational activities might be arranged, but the animals decide whether they want to be seen by the occasional visitors. Harambe’s curiosity could have been safely peaked in such an environment and he would have been able to continue to develop into a majestic silverback adult.”

Continue reading below.

Source: Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary


Filed under Animals, Environmental Ethics