Sarah and I were in attendance for 350.org’s Do The Math show at the Orpheum Theater last night. Great event! I didn’t know quite what to expect going in…how do you turn scientific lectures about global ecological collapse in to an entertaining stage performance? Overall I’d say they did a pretty good job, though they lost me a bit in the beginning with all of the smooth jazz. Not because the music bad, mind you, but because it mellowed me out when I wanted to get fired up.
I already knew most of the science that got thrown around last night, but I did learn a lot about targeted actions that are happening to advance the movement. The immediate push is to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, for which there will be a big protest at the White House this weekend. I wish I could go, but it’s Sarah’s birthday and we’re going away to celebrate. I will be sneaking off here and there to participate online though Twitter with hashtag #noKXL, and I’d encourage you to do the same.
Divestment is the other big thing going on right now, as McKibben and friends roam the country urging businesses and colleges to take their money out of fossil fuels. The moral argument is straightforward…if it’s wrong to pollute then it’s equally wrong to profit from it. Divestment also hits Big Oil where it hurts the most: the wallet. Most energy stocks aren’t owned by fat cat Wall Street types, they’re owned by regular people who have them in investment portfolios, pensions or mutual funds. Getting regular people to dump their stock will hopefully apply enough pressure to Big Oil’s bottom line that they’ll start making changes.
But in case moral and economic warfare aren’t enough, a national divestment campaign employs cultural warfare as well. The campaign seeks to tarnish Big Oil’s brand and openly stigmatize them as heartless corporate polluters making a buck off the suffering of others. If that rings any bells, you might remember a similar assault on Big Tobacco in the 80′s and 90′s that worked rather well. This kind of direct confrontation is now necessary, because we are so far behind the curve in fixing climate change that subtlety has gone out the window. More importantly, cultural warfare is the right approach because it unites people against a common foe. Every movement needs an enemy to help stoke passions and focus effort, and it’s a lot easier to get mad about the greed of corporate douchebags than it is about charts of atmospheric carbon content.
More pictures after the jump.