big oil

Why We Divested

Oil barrel filled with money. Illustration courtesy BobbyWjr/shutterstock.com

Oil barrel filled with money. Illustration courtesy BobbyWjr/shutterstock.com

On Ash Wednesday 2013, civil rights legend Julian Bond and I found ourselves crammed into a prisoner transportation vehicle. We had just been arrested for protesting the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House. With our hands cuffed behind our backs, we made the most of our time. We shared stories of the civil rights movement and climate activism.

I asked him what single ingredient was most essential for the success of the civil rights movement.

He responded: “Persistence.”

 

Bill McKibben Leads D.C. March to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

Protestors march to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. Photo by Scot Degraf

Protestors march to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. Photo by Scot Degraf

Midway through his nationwide, one-month Do The Math tour, Bill McKibben — author, environmental activist, and founder of 350.org — attracted a crowd that packed the Warner Theater in downtown Washington, D.C., on Sunday. 

Joined both onstage and by video by a diverse group of speakers, including Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, author Naomi Klein, and Archbishop Desmund Tutu, McKibben’s Do The Math tour brings to light the stark numbers of our current climate reality, first brought to the public’s attention in his viral article in Rolling Stone this past summer. 

The three main numbers are as follows: 2 degrees Celsius is the maximum level of warming our planet can endure before real catastrophe occurs. To stay below 2 degrees C, we cannot burn more than 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide. But the problem is that the fossil fuel industry has 2,795 gigatons in their reserves — five times the safe amount to burn. As is their business plan, to reap the profit from these reserves, the fossil fuel companies plan on burning all of it, “unless we rise up to stop them” states the 350.org website. 

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