A 'Big Picture' Blog
There are many serious and controversial ideas within these wide-ranging blog posts and frank discussion is encouraged. We ask that you keep the discussion relevant to the post at hand. The idea is to keep the commenting real.
Comments are moderated for spam, personal attacks, baiting language and sloganeering. No comment will be denied for its point of view.
Thank you for reading and sharing your views.
Please use the social media bar at the bottom of your browser to spread the word.
Global Divestment Day NYC
February 13, 2015
A group of roughly 200 hardy demonstrators rallied in bitter cold before the NY Stock Exchange at Wall Street and Exchange Place in NYC to call for institutional divestment from the fossil fuel industry, with particular emphasis on university divestment, as these institutions of higher learning really ought to know better than to continue such support with their endowment and pension monies—an excellent point to be making.
Braving near zero degree wind chills, participants heard from several speakers over the course of a half hour, posed with their banner for a photo op, then dispersed. The NYPD presence was smiling and accommodating throughout, as indeed the protest itself, organized by 350.org, was essentially pro-capitalist, advocating for institutional divestment from fossil fuels by raising the specter of 'stranded asset risk,' while advocating investment in alternative, renewable energy technologies that hold a greater risk/reward promise for the future.
The 350.org premise is that, if Wall Street is incapable of reforming on moral grounds, then it may be scared into reform on a risk/reward basis, especially resonant at this time due to the fall in oil prices, and that a symbolic disinvestment by a small group of highly visible institutions will have an exponential ripple effect in the public relations war against the fossil fuel industry. But can this suffice to bring about the radical economic and cultural changes needed to avert climate catastrophe?
If major universities do lead the way, will Wall Street follow? It has shown itself immune to calls for voluntary divestment on humanitarian principles, and we would do well to question whether greed/market driven capitalism is not itself the root threat to humanity and the planet, a threat that will simply add green-washed technology to the fossil fuel base with no lessening of energy consumption or meaningful carbon reduction at all.
Is the divestment movement failing to reckon with the monumental entrenchment of capital in perpetual industrial growth and growing energy consumption? Is divestment a well-intentioned but delusional strategy? Should we be playing the capitalist risk/reward game with planetary survival at stake?
I would argue yes, we should make the effort to use capitalism against itself in the short term, but with the express long term view of ending the rule of capitalism on earth. We should not temporize with the necessity of capitalism's demise, or mistakenly perpetuate capitalism under the illusion that it can reform itself against its essential destructive nature.