Stranded Assets and Planetary Liabilities

When investment banks talk of the known reserves of oil and gas that may be left in the ground if climate policy ever were to sequester them, they call them potentially “stranded assets.” The investment banks that finance exploitation, drilling, fracking, and pipelines, see all forms of petroleum only as financial values once inserted into the industrial-consumer economy as energy or various products.

The rest of us should see oil and gas reserves in the ground as potential liabilities if ever extracted and used. We must intervene in our own addiction.

What is an “Asset”?

If we take the climate emergency seriously, and if citizens and/or governments ever take necessary climate action, then the fossil-fuel industries will have lost their primary “asset” and we will have eliminated some major liabilities on the societal balance sheet.

This is Fracking
Each site injects toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

The science makes clear that coal, oil, and gas must remain in the ground to avoid the most extreme forms of climate chaos. That makes them not assets at all. The most valuable asset for the rest of us is the Earth System itself.

If governments recognize the climate emergency take serious climate action, then the fossil-fuel industries will have lost their primary “assets.” Industries that lose their primary source of energy to drive operations will lose most of their productive capacity.

Unfortunately, society has failed to “manage” the predatory element in corporate capitalism, especially during the post-World War II economic “great acceleration,” now ending. We have let the fossil-fueled corporate extractive industrial-consumer economy run amuck, setting in play many self-reinforcing feedback loops all over the planet, many of which we may never be able to thwart.

Accelerated production and use of fossil fuels are now crimes against humanity, as we rapidly approach those multiple interacting tipping points toward system collapse–Arctic tundra melt, albedo loss, etc.–some of which we appear to have already passed.
Do you really trust the oil companies to manage the investment of capital in “sustainable” energy production or industry?

We cannot afford any more “greening” of business as usual. Move your capital from institutions that denied and distracted us from the climate crisis for decades. This is an emergency.

Global Divestment from Corrupt Institutions

Divestment from those corrupt fossil-fueled institutions should become a widespread movement among the investor class, accompanied by re-investment in transforming the political economy to achieve ecological economies that invest in restoring ecosystems where people live, while we still have a chance. Oil companies should pay a heavy carbon tax, not receive government subsidies, as they do now.

Most investment bankers don’t give a hoot about “social responsibility.” To them, it is a liability and can only become an asset if feigned in various public-relations and propaganda campaigns. Goldman Sacks recently stopped funding arctic drilling, a modest gesture but probably a wise business decision too. Nevertheless, the predatory element in corporate capitalism retains strong political support.

Accelerated production and use of fossil fuels rise to the level of crimes against humanity as we rapidly approach the multiple interacting tipping points in self-reinforcing feedback loops–arctic tundra melt, albedo loss, etc.–some of which we appear to have already passed. They will be our undoing.

Ecological Restoration
The Need for Ecological Restoration is Urgent.

Do you really trust the oil companies to manage the investment of capital in “sustainable” energy production or industry? We cannot afford any more “greening” of business-as-usual. Divest from institutions that denied and dissuaded de-carbonization for decades through their ruthless propaganda and political bribery (lobbying and campaign contributions).

Divestment from those corrupt institutions should become a widespread movement among the investor class, accompanied by re-investment in transforming the political economy to achieve ecological economies that put capital into the restoration of ecosystems where people live.


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