Bill McKibben Despairs at the failure of Shareholder Climate Activism

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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Prominent climate activist Bill McKibben is unhappy that fund managers seem to be putting profits ahead of action to curb climate change.

Let’s give up the climate change charade: Exxon won’t change its stripes

Every year at the shareholders’ annual meeting, there is an attempt to push the company on reducing emissions. It’s time to stop trying and divest instead.

In 1990, a small group of investors offered a resolution at Exxon’s annual shareholder’s meeting asking that it “develop a company-wide plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The company opposed the motion, which won 6% of the vote, on the grounds that “the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.”

Here’s what happened since 1990: we’ve had all 25 of the hottest years ever measured on our planet. We’ve lost half of Arctic sea ice. The ocean has become markedly more acidic.

In 1997, Father Michael Crosby, a Catholic shareholder activist from Milwaukee, offered a less taxing resolution: perhaps Exxon could merely report on the impact that climate change would have on the company’s business? Exxon refused, arguing that there was “great uncertainty” about climate change. The resolution eventually took 4.5% of the vote.

And others – the comptroller of the state of New York, for instance – are going through this charade because they’ve been pressured to divest their shares: to join everyone from the University of Hawaii to the city of Copenhagen to the Rockefeller family in a huge campaign that’s helped change the dynamic around energy investing. Instead of saying yes and joining in, these officials are trying to greenwash their way out of real action.

Even if somehow one of the handfuls of climate-related resolutions were to win a majority of the shareholders’ votes, the resolutions are non-binding; those with the most support merely request annual reports. What more information do shareholders need? Exxon has spent millions on climate policy obstruction, and – scientist’s pleas to the contrary – plans to burn all of its reserves and keep hunting for more.

If this meeting ends with the same dismal failure as the past 25, it’s time to admit the obvious: the Exxons of the world are not going to change their stripes, not voluntarily. It will be time for state treasurers and religious groups to join those students and frontline communities and climate scientists who are saying “No more.” It will be time – past time – to get serious, divest and break free of fossil fuels once and for all.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/20/exxon-shareholders-climate-change-reform-divest

In my opinion this ridiculous demand is nothing short of an unhinged exercise in personal ego.

As Bill McKibben must be aware, politically motivated divestment is an act of financial self destruction. If the deep green manager of a major fund were to divest from a profitable business, the act of divestment, driving down the share price of the divested asset, would make the divested asset even more attractive for other investors. Everyone else would jump in, to cash in on the financial opportunity created by green stupidity.

By the time the dust settled, the share price of the “divested” asset would be back to normal, and what was left of the major fund would fire the idiot who divested their profits. They would find a new manager, someone who was a little more committed to doing their job.

So Bill suggests that governments, schools and religious groups, organisations managed by people whose jobs might not be so closely aligned to the profitability of their investments, should abrogate their responsibility to the people whose money they manage, throw away potential income, to make what would almost certainly be a meaningless political gesture.

Bill doesn’t seem to pause to consider the harm this would do – the hospitals and schools which would receive less funding, the poor people who would receive less benefits, the increased taxation, the church charities which would be starved of cash. Bill is no fool – surely he knows that the companies he wants to target would not be significantly affected – there are more than enough investors who don’t care about green issues, to snap up the bargain priced assets created by divestment. But inspiring a gigantic exercise in public wealth immolation would sure look great on his next blog post.

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150 thoughts on “Bill McKibben Despairs at the failure of Shareholder Climate Activism

  1. “Bill is no fool”

    Of course he is. You just got done quoting the bountiful evidence of what a fool he is. Or maybe just really really stupid?

      • This is exactly why I get angry at WUWT, as valuable as it is. You are refusing to call a spade a spade. McKibben is obviously a fool and a rabble rouser. His motive are completely selfish. He is only interested in his own profit. He is not interested in scientific truth. He is a liar. Why don’t you call him out. He is a despicable human being. I’ve had this out with AW before and I understand why he wants to keep his web site on the high road, but when someone is as plain awful as McKibben there should be no holds barred. He is scum.
        .

      • Scum, fool, despicable human being …. not name calling ? Just objective observations I suppose.

        Anger is usually born of frustration and a feeling of impotence. That kind if name calling aka “telling the truth” is just venting. I can see why AW wants to limit that.

        Do you think that slagging of McKibben here will diminish in any way what he does or hurt him or his followers? He’d probably be delighted to see that he is upsetting right-wing ranting denailist. He probably see it as a sign of success.

        Don’t get mad get even. That may need something more effective than posting insults on WUWT.

      • On the scale from good to bad, you have infallible saint, brutal honesty, polemicist, spin artist, liar, self-serving liar, organized con-man, mass political propagandist. On that scale, I would bet McKibbon sees himself near the top, and I see him near the bottom.

    • McKibben’s background in science and climate studies? [drum roll] … Writer of the society column “Talk of the Town” for New Yorker Magazine. He has a BA, best I can tell in journalism. Yet he is currently the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College. And I thought academic jobs were hard to get.

      • Middlebury College is very liberal, located in a liberal town. I have friends who teach there. Very liberal friends. We have interesting discussions when we get together.

      • Lysenkoism in spades. If it were without impact, we could laugh. As it is, it will create a monstrous misallocation of resources and get people killed.

      • First they burned the books, then they burned the people.

        Will these idiots never learn from the past ?

      • This is actually good news! Think about it. They had to pass a rule to specifically ban skeptical climate speech from the curriculum. That any speech contrary to progressive doctrine still remains in the curriculum at all is a good sign. It’s mostly politicians, teachers, and journalists who are trumpeting the “settled science” lie. The textbook writers are obligated to echo what IPCC themselves have been saying – that there remains substantial uncertainty. These are frightened people taking this action, who are frustrated by the free exchange of ideas in this information age, and they perceive they may lose the propaganda campaign unless they resort to totalitarian tactics. I’d rather not be in their camp, it must be a desperate place.

      • I’m still waiting for the explanation for the 1910 to 1940 man made global warming/climate change.
        And the 1040 to 1970 man made global warming/climate change.
        Again, how’d that happen?

      • Steve, and now they have a site to tell them what to deny.
        Climate Feedback site allows scientists to correct media errors
        https://www.yahoo.com/news/climate-feedback-allows-scientists-correct-media-errors-031549253.html

        Which reminds me of the familiar quote
        Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
        The Jerk

    • Mr. Mckibben is misguided. Apparently he does not understand the concept of fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders. The majority of ExxonMobil investors understand that fighting global warming is a losing proposition. The burden is on him and others like him to convince a majority to sacrifice profits in a useless effort to end climate change.

  2. At risk of giving anyone any ideas, if the power goes out we’re all back in the stone age.

  3. If you truly believe that Exxon is profiting from Climate Change D-nile then it’s your moral responsibility to divest your shares in this company. Sell them now. You’ll feel better afterword. Save the planet!

    Incidentally, if you’re worried about where to sell them, I’ll take them off your hands for you. Pennies on the dollar I’m afraid. There’s just not much value in a company that’s profiting off of CO2. I’ll probably have to throw them away when the massive warming finally appears. Any day now, I’m sure. ^_^

    • That’s the beauty of it, the tiny percentage that vote for these, must either divest… and thus disappear from shareholder meetings… or be forever tarred as a monumental hypocrite. :-)

    • Exxon is simply doing its duty of enhancing atmospheric CO2 which, studies, indicate, contributes 15% of the $10 Trillion world-wide foodstuff industry. Consequently, that CO2 is worth $1.5 Trillion. Exxon shareholders should take pride in their contribution.

      • They could also quite reasonably ask to get their taxes reduced because of these external benefits they create. Yet these benefits never seem to be noticed by the zealots who like to calculate something called the “social cost of carbon”.

      • Excellent point. This is the type of proactively positive argument Exxon should make.

        Also, why do they pick on Exxon? What about Saudi Aramco or Gazprom?

      • Asking the government to reduce taxes is like asking a cocaine addict to reduce his hits–it’s next to impossible.

    • Maybe Mckibben and his similarly inclined friends should take the more positive route. Rather than investing in Exxon to waste time, he should be putting all his money in green energy investments. They keep telling us how competitive wind and solar are, so government can stop shovelling money into those areas and Bill and his rich friends can make a killing. Also, I strongly object to the reference to “investors who don’t care about green issues”. I have energy investments. I care about green issues! AGW is not a green issue. It’s a non-issue. Created, inflated and promoted by bogus anti- science!

  4. “. If the deep green manager of a major fund were to divest from a profitable business, the act of divestment, driving down the share price of the divested asset, would make the divested asset even more attractive for other investors. Everyone else would jump in, to cash in on the financial opportunity created by green stupidity.”

    Finally….something from the Greens I can support, This is a stupidity tax that takes money out of the portfolios of alarmists and distributes it efficiently to right-thinking people (me included). I hope Hollywood, academia and the public leisure (not labor) unions go for this in a big way.

  5. I already did this once. Told my investment adviser that when next the greens try to target a company, wait for the guilty conscious crowd to sell and buy the heck out of it.

    • Frankly if any of the Oil companies I have shares in wasted valuable resources on this total crap – and particularly actually did what the AG’s are accusing them of not doing – That is distributing pro CAGW propaganda and hurting their own businesses, I would be on their case at the shareholders meetings and via the stock exchange that they were engaging in deceptive conduct and trying to diminish shareholder value.

      Frankly many skeptics could take them to pieces over less that truthful disclosures – and I think they know it.

  6. “The company opposed the motion, which won 6% of the vote, on the grounds that “the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.””

    And those facts have now become NON-facts, and climate projections are treated as the joke they always were..

    Exxon has done exactly as any rational share-holder would expect..

    They have ignored fairy-tales.

    Hopefully, those 6% have now divested, and Exxon can get on with the job of providing energy to the world, without the mindless prattle from Green regressives.

  7. Left wing ideologues generally display two characteristics:
    1) They cannot do math
    2) They have no workable concept of “money”

    If they want to change how Exxon does business, or put Exxon out of business, all they have to do is stop buying what Exxon sells. If there are enough of them, together they will have the desired effect.

    As an aside, why always ranting about Exxon, there are plenty of other players in that industry.

    • Exactly all you state treasurers religious groups students frontline communities and climate scientists out there if you don’t like the product don’t buy it.
      Typically, like so many other leftist gestures, divestment is simply a way of appearing to do something without any personal discomfort.

      • I’m still waiting for the “deep greens” to set us all an example by swearing off fossil fuels. That’s right–stop driving, stop flying, stop eating any food you didn’t raise yourself. Let’s watch you plowing your field with an ox, heating your house with wood you cut by hand (no chainsaws!) and plucking your chickens for the pot.
        Oh, and walk wherever you’re going, which includes your “job” as an “activist.” Show me. I’ve got popcorn.
        And plenty of time . . .

        We should ALL call these assclowns out on their very absurdity.

      • One thing to notice, they are always demanding that other people do the divesting.
        It’s not like they are risking a single penny of their own money.

    • If they really wanted to do something proactive, they should all get together and buy a majority share in Exxon then they can take the company down. Of course their shares would then be worthless and they would have lost all their money. But a true believer shouldn’t care about their money.

  8. “Here’s what happened since 1990: we’ve had all 25 of the hottest years ever measured on our planet. We’ve lost half of Arctic sea ice. The ocean has become markedly more acidic.”

    But no evidence that any of this is related to fossil fuel emissions or that any of this could have been attenuated had fossil fuel emissions been reduced.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2725743
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2669930
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2642639
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2781465
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2770539

    • Chaamjamal
      ““Here’s what happened since 1990: we’ve had all 25 of the hottest years ever measured on our planet. We’ve lost half of Arctic sea ice. The ocean has become markedly more acidic.””
      These statements are all untrue. Flat out untrue.
      They are not related to anything.

      • Keep your eye on the pea. “…hottest years ever MEASURED…”
        Of course no one “measured” the Roman or Medieval warming periods, but there is no real scientific doubt that they existed (not counting that other charleton Dr Mann).
        Without those weasel words, Bill (and Mikey) would have to explain what caused the temperature rise in those previous periods.

  9. Less than a year ago Naomi Klein, 350.org, was at the Vatican (July 2015). And now she may become part of a Congressional inquiry.

  10. Rats leave sinking ships. I wonder what green companies McKibben has invested in? (if any.) In a few years he will be divesting his green stocks — or do you think he is the type that will go down with the ship?

    I hope he keeps his green stocks and suffers an old age of poverty. That would be fitting.

    Eugene WR Gallun

    Naw, he’s a rat and will divest.

    • They the renewable entities will be in administration by then and a sale is unneeded.

      If these people don’t want to own the offending stocks, they should sell, the yields will rise and the investable funds for development of fossil fuels will fall a bit, prices of the slightly lower supply of fossil fuels will rise and so what.

  11. Exxon …………………………. plans to burn all of its reserves and keep hunting for more

    Well no. It’s an oil company. It plans to extract those reserves and sell them, so that people who need energy can burn them.

  12. Just another tentacle from the AGW proselytizers to sway public opinion. You have to wonder how such an ideology can gain so much steam with so few rabid adherents. It’s obvious their funding is deep in the shadows and well protected.

  13. Off topic…but worth pointing out that the recent post on GISS data tampering was very effectively shut down by Mosher and allies. This ‘scream down’ tactic is widely used by political activists at political rallies and on campuses. It’s usually a sign that the speaker, the subject matter or the opinions being voiced are valid and must be silenced.!

    • I was hoping the conversation would have continued. I didn’t even get to reply before it was shut down.

      I personally didn’t see any egregious violations I’m used to the “Wild West” on USENET, so this conversation that was shut down seemed pretty tame. But, that is up to the website owner, and I’m ok with it.

      We will have this same discussion in the near future, I’m sure. :) Hopefully, the participants will be a little more polite next time, so we can actually discuss details, rather than personalities.

      • maybe we should wait about 6 months when the la nino has kicked in, when we will be having the conversation without the sound of screaming in the background.

    • Sparky May 21, 2016 at 3:56 pm: “maybe we should wait about 6 months when the la nino has kicked in, when we will be having the conversation without the sound of screaming in the background.”

      Yeah, the Alarmist case seems to be hanging by a thread. Of course, I guess the temperatures could go higher, but it’s been awfully cool around these parts this year. Seems like it is getting cooler here and lots of other places around the world. Very few big tornadoes here. Only one EF4 this year. Hardly any around Tornado Alley, and it is getting late in the season now.

      Here’s a graph of tornadoes:

      Six months from now we may be seeing a continuation of the “long-term” 1930’s-Feb 2016, temperature downtrend.

  14. The ocean has become markedly more acidic.” That’s either an outright lie or Mr. McKibben is a careless ignoramus.

    • Exactly. You cannot make something more that it isn’t. The world’s oceans are alkaline.

      • I have grown tired of this nitpicky nonsense.

        Lowering pH = becoming more acidic. It doesn’t matter what pH you start at. It’s the same way a 450lb person can get thinner by losing 50 pounds even though they aren’t thin in the first place. It may be more appropriate to say they got “less fat,” but “thinner” still holds true.

      • I disagree. You can’t say someone became more fat if they were thin to start with. in the same way, you can’t say the ocean was becoming more acidic unless it was acidic to start with. Since it isn’t, it is a misleading statement. Willfully so in my opinion.

      • nitpicky?
        sea water is not acidic at all.
        it can’t be an acid unless it has a pH of less than 7.
        so it’s got a way to go before it’s even neutral.
        there is no plausible scenario whereby it ever stops being basic.
        the amount of buffer available simply can’t ever be consumed.
        (calcium carbonate, if you don’t know)

      • Which s actually a good analogy for the atmospheric content of CO2, hardly bloated at 400 P.P.M.

      • caus·tic
        ˈkôstik/
        adjective
        adjective: caustic
        1.
        able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action.
        “a caustic cleaner”
        synonyms: corrosive, corroding, abrasive, mordant, acid
        “a caustic cleaner”
        2.
        sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way.

      • The ocean also can NEVER become acidic. The ocean floor is covered with megatons of metal nodules (manganese copper nodules) and carbonate “gut rocks” from fish and foram shells and….

        The thing is massively buffered at alkaline.

    • It’s that weasel word “markedly”. To most laymen it means that there has been a large increase. To most scientists it just means that it can be measured.

      They deliberately use words knowing that the average man in the street will misconstrue what they are saying.

  15. If 5% of stock in a company was sold all at once, the operating value of the company would be unaffected. The projected profits would be unaffected. The only change would be that the company is more vulnerable to takeover.
    Which is a stretch, considering the people who would likely pick up that stock. And even if the bad company was taken over, does McKibben think they will stop doing what they do ?

    If this really is his ego on a trip, it should shut up because it’s light years behind the real world.

    • They can’t sell a stock unless someone buys it. By the time a disinvestment is completed, someone else already owns it. I am not convinced the proponents understand how instruments of investment work.

    • 5% of a companies stock being sold all at once is a huge amount and would temporarily drive down the price of the companies stock by a large amount.
      I’d be surprised if a company like Exxon has much more than 0.01 to 0.001% of their stock change hands on any given day.

  16. ‘If this meeting ends with the same dismal failure as the past 25, it’s time to admit the obvious: the Exxons of the world are not going to change their stripes, not voluntarily. It will be time for state treasurers and religious groups to join those students and frontline communities and climate scientists who are saying “No more.” ‘

    The AGW religion.

  17. Yeah this whole divestment thing makes no sense for the exact reasons outlined here. It’s a free market and someone will pick up the shares.

    • Yeah, this whole (CAGW) thing makes no sense for the exact reasons outlined here.

      I’m still wait’n for that exponent that is associated with the “exponentially increasing” meat consumption….

    • It makes perfect sense. Environmentalism is a religion. Those who divest of Exxon shares will be welcomed in Green Heaven when they die. “So, I got THAT going for me, you know, which is nice.” Smug idiots.

      • Ian, the ’72 virgins’ is a misquotation…

        …it should read “one 72 year old virgin”

      • Even 72 virgins, issued at a virgin every thousand years, will only keep a believer in virgins for 72,000 years and a thousand-year-old virgin is a frightening prospect. Don’t tell them, lest they turn on you, but eternity is a very long time. By the seventieth you’d be trying to work out ways to end the blessings!

  18. There is nothing to a little reality blogging.

    I am a representative of religious group in an organisation devote to reducing stress between, and promoting brotherhood between, religious organisations, and their members of course. It has at least 35 different denominations and faith groups which is a very diverse representation. I mean, we have everyone!

    This group was approached at its meeting last week though the distribution of a handout calling for Waterloo University, the world famous centre of Engineering and computer science, to divest from all fossil fuel companies and funds and to pass that requirement on to all money managers who may invest funds on behalf of the university.

    This is exactly the same demand that I reported on last year when my son, a P.Eng, made a presentation to Queens University calling the forced closure of the liquid fuels industry ‘a crime against humanity’.

    That effort was rather publicly financed and led by 350.org using money from who-knows-where. No doubt they are shilling for some vested interest because it takes commitment to obtain a passport. The motion was debated and defeated.

    So, hearing this same request brought to the interfaith group festooned with everything from turbans to stars to sticks was quite a surprise. Several things are noteworthy about the ‘Waterloo version’ of “350.org tries to screw Waterloo U”.

    First, 350.org, being an interfering political force meddling in the internal affairs on a foreign country, is lying a lot lower this time than they did in Kingston where they were clearly bringing white man’s money to save the natives’ sorry asses from their climate-heathen ways.

    Next, Canadians, having taken the gentler, kinder version of obliterating the native population in the lands the Europeans invade and despoil, failed to exterminate the indigenes leaving, in my happy case, someone who produced the mother of my gorgeous ex-fiancé, and Willis would say. The Brits, and Scots, as they mostly were, went about buying land with beads and tools and contracts for removal, and many of these signatures are still borne on valid attested treaties, still respected for the most part, a couple or three centuries later.

    So there an inevitable legal tussles over which side of which river was meant in this or that treaty. Aboriginal rights are much in the news and we even have sit-ins, if anyone from the 60’s remembers what they are. And of course there is the big matter of compensation for the wrongs committed in the Residential School system, operated by some of the very organisations who sit across the Interfaith table from me. Tsk Tsk.

    So what does this have to do with UW’s disinvestments? Climate reparations for First Nations! I am not making this up. We were given a pamphlet attempting to tie ‘residential school guilt’ thinking and ecumenical embarrassment to the ‘harm we are causing to the environment’ to the ‘rights of the aboriginal people’ (First Nations) to the ‘need for CO2 emissions to be stopped’, to the ‘need’ for Waterloo U to ‘set an example’ presumably of a suitably penitent climate confessor, and start to worry about how these religious organisations are going to support the legitimate claims for compensation from all the companies who are responsible for these CO2 emissions that are preventing the First Nations from reaching their true potential. I am running out of breath.

    The pamphlet was selling the notion of Euro-colonial guilt about oppressed natives (real ones, not people like me born in Toronto) and called on all ‘religious leaders’ to get behind these aggrieved First Nations people to see that they got their climate reparations paid up to date. This was of course part of getting Waterloo U to disinvest from all those companies who produce these evil fuels from out the bowels of the earth. Native rights! Disinvest!

    Well, the appeal was so full of charm and likeable aboriginal faces that I nearly wept with emotion at the thought of Waterloo University remaining invested in the ‘tar’ sands for even one more day. What with God punishing the sinful denizens of Ft McMurray with fire, if not brimstone, even while the group was empanelled, how can anyone possibly be against aboriginal rights to compensation for, what was it again? Oh year, climate reparations. Big budget item, that.

    Smelling a rat, I asked if this initiative was in fact being led by 350.org, the same interfering foreign organisation that was so roundly and soundly driven from the cannoned banks of the pre-War-of-1812 Capital of Canada commonly known as Kingston.

    The Non-Denominational Spiritual But Not Religious Chaplain of the University of Waterloo sitting opposite looked up the website given and indeed this is exactly the case.

    So, be aware that 350.org has graduated from blocking foreign pipelines to undermining research grant funding to shutting down entire cities of workers to closing down the liquid fuels industry of Canada to pimping the buggered and abused residential school survivors by promising to help them get climate reparations for spells of hot and cold weather if they will please take their sorry brown asses to their turbaned and bearded and befrocked and begowned and no doubt benighted religious leaders to beg for their 350.org-given rights to climate money and by the way, plead with their congregations to tell Waterloo University to sell all their shares of Sunoco and other tarry feathery firms. Feathers are sacred you know. (Some people just don’t understand foreign cultures.)

    Honestly, you couldn’t make this shite up. So the multi-colored multi-ethnic multi-religious multi-gendered multi-national multi-prophet multi-heavened assembly looked at me long, and hard, and in silence. I replied that I was concerned about ‘co-option’ of legitimate issues by foreign political groups who have already be active in trying to shut down Canada’s oil industry. In most countries such foreign agents would be shot. Certain groups have an interest in preventing Canada from selling oil to China. The No-Religion-All-Religion Faith Group lady replied, “Isn’t that a good thing?” Apparently she also accepts the Book of Green. How politically correct.

    My membership on the Hate Crimes Committee would have been withdrawn had we explored this further. We parted ways still friends with a shared awareness of a little of what lurks beneath the Big Green Blanket.

    McKibben, go home. Once there, if you build a pipeline to the northern border we might put something in it, occasionally. And while you’re busy protecting humanity from real and present dangers, you can thank someone in Waterloo for opening the San Bernardino iPhone. We’re always pleased to lend a hand.

    • Small nit-pick here : –
      You say “The Brits, and Scots, …. .”
      Scots are Brits.
      Did you mean “English and Scots” ?

      • Oldseadog

        Point accepted. I wanted to list the whole lot – we had in the big expansion in Ontario a large number of Irish arrive – very badly treated by the landed farmers. New Scotland (Nova Scotia) was of course well established by then, and a surprising number of people who settled in the Waterloo area and further north into the Bruce peninsula were actually relocating from SE Ontario as the soil there is so poor as to make peasant farming difficult.

        Two interesting tidbits: There are Non-treaty Indians (never made a deal with the Feds) on the east end of Manitoulin Island who basically operate a country within Ontario as they wish. They never agreed to taxes or laws. They are literally free. Second, there is a large Oneida Reservation SE of London Ontario which is a tribe from Massachusetts I think, who bought the land cash after agreeing with the colonial administration that they would be treated pretty much as aboriginals, though they are not. They never officially got that status but everyone is turning a blind eye because no one knows how else to handle it.

        Slaves who escaped to the north end of the underground railway, also settled in the same area at the same time, are treated as immigrants like all those from Great Britain. (Howzat?) :)

    • Crispin…I very much enjoyed your comment, beautifully written. I particularly appreciated “festooned”

      jw

      • JW, good to hear from you. Thanks. It would not have so many typos if it had been written on a computer, not a BlackBerry. The mobile version of WordPress seems less than it used to be. It auto-corrects in a strange way when connected to the mobile site.

        Back to business: It will be interesting to see what happens when 350.org tries to get the University of Alberta to disinvest.

    • For all your breathless eloquence (not unappreciated), forgive me, but what was the upshot of “had we explored this further”? Were you able to convince the flock to spurn the overtures of 350.org et al? Or not?

  19. Come up with an alternative to fossil fuels and run Exxon out of business. Seems like a logical way of dealing with the “evil” energy producers of the world.

    • Absolutely! If solar or wind were anywhere near cost parity with fossil fuels, as greens frequently claim, there would be no need for shareholder activism.

  20. Your CO 2 emissions are bad, Mine are OK
    http://pagesix.com/2016/05/20/hypocrite-leo-takes-private-jet-to-collect-green-award/

    “Leo DiCaprio picked up an environmental award in NYC this week — but hypocritically expanded his carbon footprint by 8,000 miles when he obtained the honor, by taking a private jet from Cannes, then flying straight back to France on another jet for a model-packed fund-raiser a night later.”

    “DiCaprio was at the Cannes Film Festival this week, and was spotted there partying at club Gotha on Monday with model Georgia Fowler, then jetted back to New York for the Riverkeeper Fishermen’s Ball at Chelsea Piers on Wednesday, where he was honored …”

    • Like Santa, when Leo travels, he’s “laughing all the way”. To quote Doug Kenney, “Fist full of tit, glass of Jack, and barrel rolls in a Gates Learjet.”

  21. Why he wouldn’t expect many a hitch in the road to shake off “flea” investors is beyond me, the people who control Exxon are the same ones pushing for carbon taxation.

    Nowadays the King of Saud is able to startup income tax schemes out of “national distress” to fit soylent green futures and tax profits from both fists.

  22. McKibben would get more results lobbying congress to pass a law allowing collusion and price fixing in the fossil fuel markets. This would lead to price increases which in turn would encourage energy independence, reduce demand, increase profits and taxes. The taxes thus collected can be used to build Trump’s Wall and reduce the deficit.

  23. What is often forgotten is that you can only sell a share if someone else buys it. McKibben seems to be under the belief that divestment takes capital out of Exxon.

  24. Uh-oh, now we’re in trouble. The climate activists are really going to “get serious”. They’re going to pull the big guns out now. No more Mr. Nice Guy. They’ve had it. They’re going to hit us where it hurts most – by huge, emotion-laden, pointless actions. That’ll teach us.
    In other words, we’re winning, and they know it.

  25. You’d think they would be putting their own money into green power if they cared that much about it.

    Instead of taking this positive affirmative approach, they take a negative punishing approach.

    They are against CO2, they are against fossil fuel companies, they are against everything. They are just negative people.

    “Who owns Exxon, who uses Exxon products?” Everyone.

    Everyone’s pension money is in fossil fuel companies. Everyone’s insurance premiums have been invested in Exxon waiting for the day they will be needed on a claim. Everyone uses transportation and plastics and electricity. We are all Exxon’ers.

    How many people currently hold shares in green power. Not many. Because they are went bankrupt and then were sold at fire sale prices and are now owned by a Goldman Sach’s client as a tax deferral plan.

    If green power was so good, people would be lining up to invest in them and there would be no need to be so against something.

  26. Bill it’s time for you and 350.org to get serious and stop using electricity entirely. Put your words into action. At least demand your members pay premium prices for non-subsidized renewables-generated electricity. Show the world just how serious you know this situation to be. Stop sniveling and lead already. It’s past time.

    • If Bill stops using electricity he won’t be able to use a computer and won’t be able to put things like the above onto the internet.
      Now there is a thought ….. .

  27. McKibben and all the crazy’s like him would throw civilization back into the 17 or 18 hundreds and cause the greatest genocide the world has every seem. The only ones who would be happy with that would be the depopulation crowd, and it would likely consume them as well. These people have to be completely unhinged and dangerous.

    • Green energy steals money from poor people! That has to be the message that is repeated thousands of times over. Firstly, through government expenditure on climate initiatives causing higher taxes and diverting money from greater needs. Secondly, by creating higher energy costs which are disproportionately borne by the poor. That is the truth and should be our message. Green energy steals from the poor!

  28. Perhaps Billy-boy should try the weeping and sobbing gambit again. It worked so well last time.

  29. There used to be money or kudos in being green, now there isn’t. Sorry Bill, times change. Pull yourself together man and get into another vital activist area. Take a lead from Prez Obama, and get heavily into who has the right to get into the women’s lavatory, while Putin rolls up the Baltic states.

    In passing, why is it that wimmen aren’t campaigning to get into the bloke’s lavvies?

    Pointman

  30. Those who see this as an economic struggle are missing the point. This is a political struggle. The issue is not who will be economically hurt or benefited but a test of political strength. This McKibben is an enemy of Exxon, fossil fuels, and the industrial history of the modern world.

    However, this individual is not just an enemy of industry he is an enemy of people in general wishing their destruction and starvation. At best, he is serving only a crazed mandate to save the earth. At worst, he is the fully comprehending agent of a cabal determined to impoverish the planet in the name of tyranny. Poor people have little time for politics or rebellion.

    His ultimate appeal is political. He wants the agents of the state to destroy the fossil fuel industry no matter what the cost. To this end he, like many others in the environmentalist movement, strike a high minded pose. They are, however, evil incarnate.

    Until, the public accepts that the environmentalists are a mortal danger and moves against them tooth and nail these murderous assaults on the prosperity of the world shall continue.

  31. “…It will be time – past time – to get serious, divest and break free of fossil fuels once and for all.”

    So selling my oil-company stock will mean I no longer need fossil fuels? Will my car change overnight into an electric car with unlimited battery capacity? Bit of a logical disconnect there wouldn’t one say? Or just green magic?

    As for Exxon; if enough guilt stricken gullibles sell their shares at the same time and drive the price way down Exxon will do what any other company would do if it could – use their capital to acquire their own stock and so become much less susceptible to the wackos at the AGM.

    • “Bit of a logical disconnect there…”

      Yes. Does anyone know where the “logic-processing unit” is located in the brain? I’m convinced that some people either don’t have one, or if they do, it has been “re-wired” to simultaneously hold P and NOT P without any seeming awareness of the contradiction.

  32. Not only no impact to the company, but no effect on CAGW, even if you believe it hook, line & sinker

  33. The Greens should divest and put their money in a company they believe in such as Sun Edison,

  34. I take Bill McKibben at his word that he believes AGW is a huge threat. If that’s correct, and Exxon Mobil management is so incompetent as to not take account of global warming’s likely impact on the regulatory environment in which Exxon Mobil finds itself, then I would think (note: I’m not a lawyer) that McKibben et.al. can rightly sue Exxon Mobil management for their incompetence.
    I have advocated CO2 realists, who believe that AGW is not a threat, sue Exxon Mobil management for their failure to deal with climate science. In a disclosure process, we can find out what Exxon Mobil management knew about climate science, and when they knew it.

    Now, if both Bill McKibben and CO2 realists sure Exxon Mobil, seeking such documents, I expect the CO2 realists would get satisfaction, and thus develop a strong lever to force Exxon Mobil to spend what for them is chump change on educating the public about CO2 science reality.

    Meanwhile, I expect the McKibbens of this world would rue the day that they found out what Exxon Mobil REALLY knew.

    Ah, but there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?

    • To be clear: I have advocated SHAREHOLDERS suing Exxon Mobil management, who I expect have a bona fide legal claim to demanding managerial competence.

      • Your expectation is incorrect at present, and will continue to be so, in the absence of material adverse events causing precipitous loss of stockholder value.

      • @Steve Fraser Are you, in effect, stating a legal certainty, or just your opinion. If the former, could you supply a reference, please?

      • The government (via EPA) is destroying the share value of power companies that use coal as the source of energy. Why would one sue the coal mine or the power company for the drop in value? It is directly caused by the decisions at play in the regulatory field. Those who have been misleading the regulators are directly responsible for the regulations, and therefore the drop in share values.

        Sue the people who are making the false assertions about dangers, skies falling and all futures eschatological. Falsely crying ‘Wolf’ is a sure way to be ignored. If crying “Wolf” causes people tangible loss then restitution can be sought. It is in fact a rather blatant form of share price manipulation.

        If example of the screaming Greens can be shown where they have personally divested their shares in a company they subsequently attacked, and it hurt the share price, then they have profited from their fore-knowledge of what was about to happen. If they sold the shares short, they are guilty of fraud. If they collaborated across State lines with a divestment and or shorting, they are guilty of a whole raft of things.

      • @ Crispin in Waterloo “Why would one sue the coal mine or the power company for the drop in value?”

        For the same reason that I have suggested suing the oil companies for their mismanagement of the climate science information background ‘noise’. Either the management at both the coal companies and oil companies have been keeping up with climate science, or they haven’t. If their management (either coal or oil) have kept up, and came to the conclusion that CO2 catastrophists were full of crap, then they should have taken prudent steps to educate the public, which would have made anti-fossil fuel regulations, predicated on craptastic CO2 catastrophism, more difficult, politically.

        And if the management of coal and oil companies came to the opposite conclusion – viz., that the CO2 catastrophists are essentially correct, and they must manage the invevitable decline of their industries prudently and ethically, I see so little evidence of that POV, that I have to again conclude that management was incompetent.

        If the fossil fuel co. managements, OTOH, weren’t even paying much attention (a very implausible assumption, IMO), then they are both incompetent and negligent. All the more reason to get on their case.

        In a sense, one reason to sue the oil majors NOW, is because of what we can observe happening to coal companies, already.

        Now, I don’t really have much of a personal attachment to the fossil fuel companies, and am not, myself, angry at their management for incompetence. (Their willingness to pollute is another matter – certainly, what BP did with Corexit in the gulf should be a criminal offense, e.g. Also, I don’t own any stocks in fossil fuel companies.) However, I am “angry”, if that’s the word, at the fact that guys like Mark Steyn are getting sued by the likes of Michael Mann, and that fact, combined with talk of RICO suits against so-called “climate change deniers” suggests that Anthony Watts and scientists like William Happer and Richard Lindzen may one day get hauled into court, for telling the truth, as best as they could understand it.

        If and when these guys are hung out to dry, I have zero confidence that companies like Exxon Mobil will come to their rescue. Instead, I expect their management to just look the other way, and selfishly just look out for their own skins. After all, isn’t that basically what they’ve been doing all along, even though the persecution of truth tellers hasn’t reached the level of a RICO suit?

    • How about suing the solar companies for disclosure regarding performance assurances that were given to public entities?

  35. Divestment does nothing to the company and nothing to share prices, It is a matter of ownership and size. It does have the benefit of removing cranky idiots from shareholder meeting.

    Warren Buffet just bought $1,000,000,000 of Apple Computer. Nobody noticed until it was announced.

    A batch of small fish selling at disjoint times will disappear in the daily flow.

    The Hedge Fund industry alone is a $3 Trillion size and turns over investments well under a year, so trade flow some multiple of that. Insurance company investments dwarf that…

    Go ahead and sell your shares, it will do exactly nothing.

    Certainly nothing to the company. They got money from the public placement years ago. They no longer care who owns them and get no benefit from them. IFF price could somehow be driven down, most big old companies like to do share buybacks. It makes ‘earnings per share outstanding’ better and management bonuses better… Those who don’t sell back get a higher dividend and share price going forward (ignoring external news or business changes). That buyback strategy is a way to turn ordinary income (dividend payout) into long term capital gains by some companies. Less taxes paid, more wealth to the wealthy.

    So at best, if price could be moved down, it would result in fatter management bonuses and better wealth transfer to the very rich.

    • it totally doesn’t matter because the purpose of the tacticl is to promote the meme by getting attention for it and neutralize opposition by keeping them distracted and occupied.
      it’s not about science or share prices or any aspect of reality besides power.
      and power is all about slavery.
      this is about domination and the first step of the strategy is domination of consciousness by seizure of attention.
      all their squawking adds up to nothing, in itself, if you keep the focus on YOUR RIGHTS.
      as in, YOUR MONEY and YOUR LIFE.
      that’s the only thing that matters and as i’ve pointed out in the past- it’s the argument that can’t be beaten.
      you can get an old man into the ladies room if you argue rights and your opponents fail to play their own rights.card.
      only winning wins, too. everything else that’s not winning is losing.
      fighting and winning are so very different – but, as i’ve said repeatedly- the matador wins cuz the bull chases the cape. co2, polar bears, shares – that’s all cape waving.

  36. Okay, give McKibben what he wants.

    Shut down Exxon and all those other eeeeeevil BIG OIL companies.

    Now explain how all of the food and other goods that people in cities need to survive are going to be delivered. Horse drawn wagons? Give Bill the shovel to clean up the horse manure.

  37. Bill McKibben would be better suited to Astrology.
    His predictions might make more sense.

  38. It is very encouraging to read that Bill McKibben is despairing at the failure of Shareholder Climate Activism
    and that he is unhappy that fund managers are putting profits ahead of any action to curb climate change. It suggests that not all sanity has fled and that people are tiring of the foolish CAGW Charade.

  39. I thnk Bill needs to be careful here with obsessing too much about fossil fuels, Exxon, climate change, renewables etc. He just might despair himself into a serious case of depression. I can see him heading down that road if the country and the world continue failing to respond as he wishes to his expectations.

    Not that I would care much.

  40. Mr. Nye, sadly, defines the rank and file of the LIH (Low Information Hominid). My guess is he thinks he lives today in the year 2016. Geologically, it is the year 11,719 (+/-99years) of the Holocene Epoch. In other words, Mr. Nye, like virtually all climatists, have no idea when they live. LIHs are ignorant of the fact that only 1 of the past (at least) 8 interglacials have lasted longer than about half a precession cycle (which varies between 19 and 23kyrs, with us being at the 23kyr point now, making 11,500 half…..).

    The problem might actually be simpler than we presently think. As what I can tell you will require more than 140 bytes, this could readily be considered the first impediment to advancement beyond the LIH level.

    Beyond the 140 byte (Twit) barrier lies the fact that there is not just one debate on climate change (anthropogenic GHG emissions), there are actually 3. The 2nd debate (conducted in the scholarly literature, you know, where scientific debate actually occurs) concerns just how long should we expect the Holocene to last? The Holocene is now over half a precession cycle in age, with insolation shockingly close to that of previous glacial inceptions. Ganopolski et al (2016) (and no, I am not going to provide you a reference, I am tired of doing LIH research for you) (besides, this paywalled paper has been previously covered here at WUWT) concluded that had CO2 been at 240 ppm at the beginning of the industrial revolution, instead of ~280 ppm, we would already be deep in the throes of glacial inception (aka the climatic madhouse), which constitutes the 3rd such debate.

    Quite a few 140 byte gulps later we find ourselves, Mr. Nye, at the 3rd and most interesting debate. Just why are we still experiencing interglacial warmth? Well, in the event that you are absolutely correct about the efficacy of CO2/CH4/et al as GHGs then Ruddiman’s Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis becomes your only respite. Most proxy archives support the premise that CO2 concentrations in previous end-interglacials had decayed below the 240 ppm threshold. However because of the Holocene development of agriculture, we sewed the seeds necessary to prevent glacial inception starting at least 8k years ago, and accelerated it 5k years ago, with the development of rice agriculture.

    This provides the most elegant Gordian Knot ever devised. Or the most decisive intelligence test.

    So, Mr. Nye, if you are at all concerned about climate change, disruptive/extreme weather etc. et al, do a little research on the climatic madhouse known as glacial inception. Which, if you are absolutely correct defining the current epoch as the Anthropocene, we may have actually delayed or outright prevented glacial inception via anthropogenic GHG emissions. Meaning, of course, that by extending late Holocene atmospheric concentrations of GHGs we already have offset, or maybe even prevented, the climatic madhouse known as glacial inception. Feel free to disagree, I have laid this trap for you.

    This simply cannot be had both ways. The paleoclimate record states emphatically that there are only 2 dominant climate states, the cold interglacial state and the warm interglacial state. Excepting, of course, the millenial glacial aberrations termed Dansgaard-Oeschger events. D-O events make an absolute mockery of the 2C limit on anthropogenic climate perturbations, averaging, as they do, about 8-10C and ranging up to 16C, during the most recent ice ages. Meaning you fail even as regards things which regularly (M=1470 years) happen in-between the 2 dominant climate states!

    And what about those pesky warm states anyway! Both the Holocene and the Eemian exhibit abrupt, intense amplifications of temperature. GISP2 ice core data indicates that just during the present interglacial, the Holocene, that 3 such thermal excursions attend the rise of the Minoan, Roman and Medieval civilizations. The Minoan excursion about 1.6C from then normal, 2C from the previous minima, the Roman about 1.2C anomaly to Medieval times being somewhere between 1 to 2C (avg to minima). The modern, “unprecedented” anomaly +0.4C to baseline Little Ice Age” (LIA). Unprecedented. Got it. That was another paleoclimate trap, BTW.

    Only the ice age terminations rival glacial inception in terms of extreme weather/climate. It’s OK for an LIH to be freaked-out by the astonishing possibility that according to AR5 worst case scenario we (meaning us) could be responsible for a horrendous +0.8 meter above present sea level excursion here at the end of the Holocene/Anthropocene. For the purposes of the LIH I accept total responsibility for all those LIHs that live in the coastal zones to be devastated by such an egregious rise in sea level. Please, send me the bill. Bill. Mr. Nye. (OK, that was an economic trap William. Just for grins.)

    Of course, my HIH (High Information Hominid) actuaries will vet this against the normal, natural end extreme interglacial climate noise that typically attends these times. Taking your best, gold standard of climate, AR5 estimate of +0.8 meters, this will be compared to both the lowest (+6.0 meters) and highest (+52.0 meters) of sea level highstands known to have been recorded at the most recent end extreme interglacials and recommend the appropriate compensation (since I have accepted total responsibility).

    Please note that I am an early adopter of the renminbi for international currency transactions. The actuarials, based on +0.8/+6.0 and +0.8/+52.0 cause and effect ratios, I will issue compensation in the amount of 0.00 renminbis. Meaning that you need to up your game, substantially. If my (meaning I accept total hominid responsibility for climate change) signal/liability comes in at just 0.1333 to 0.015 of the normal, natural end extreme interglacial climate noise then the climate liability shoe goes on the other foot. Meaning you owe me, not IOU.

    At present you are 13% of the way with your maximum anthropogenic estimate of the lowest natural extimate of sea level excursion at the end of the most recent interglacial. Not to mention you are only 1.5% of the maximum natural noise estimate. So you need to get your feces together here or write me a nuisance check.

    I have asked counsel to look into the potential liability that might accrue to those that advocate a path leading to glacial inception. Preliminary findings suggest that costs for relocating population and seaside facilities to accommodate the next 130 meter drop in sea level will be far greater than those for even a rise of +52.0 meters above present. Using the now abandoned North American nomenclature for the last 4 ice ages (i.e. Wisconsin, Illinoian, Kansan and Nebraskan), the actuaries have found costs for re-locating all Canadians and northern tier US states populations to south of the continental ice sheet terminal morraines to be simply astronomical. They are still calculating Russian/European et al estimates, so please stand by.

    The suggestion has been made that a registry of those that wish to take our chances with glacial inception here at the presumptive end of the Anthropocene is actually possible. The remainder would necessarily consist of “global warming deniers”, meaning those that prefer extending the Anthropocene beyond the next glacial by whatever means necessary(at present, the only known means would be GHGs, of course).

    Paradoxically, of course, this would mean that the costs associated with extending the Holocene/Anthropocene would be born (within the signal to noise paradigm) by said “deniers”. Concomitantly, costs above interglacial SNR for responding to a ~90kyr ice age would be born by climatists. We agree that this seems a fair assessment. But then we are adults, not kids.

    Meaning that we are very much OK with absorbing “out of SNR” costs for maintaining Holocene/Anthropocene interglacial warmth. The question, Mr. Nye, are you and your ilk agreeable to the opposite of same?

    DISCLAIMER: We, meaning ready to be registered “deniers”, stand ready to fund conversion of HIH comprehension to 140 byte LIH digestible “bites”. We acknowledge the existence of the conversion efficiencies that can actually be achieved between Belief based mental processing structures and Knowledge based mental processing structures. We recognize that this is the normal, natural, typical costs associated with the transition from puberty to adulthood. It is the cost of doing business with our children, however old they actually are. We are also cognizant that when this cost exceeds revenue then “Childhood’s End” will not occur. We accept and promote that this will likely, here at the Holocene/Anthropocene decision point, that this might very well define us as a species. To that end we are not at all averse to “losing” the GHG wars. They are called “population bottlenecks”, the most recent of which was the Mt. Toba eruption 70kyrs ago, immediately thereafter worldwide populations declined to something like 10k individuals, we find art, culture, society, and yes governments, bloomed. Advancing our species or speciation lies in the balance.

    P.S. We are not due for our next potential “hardware upgrade” (cranial capacity) until the next eccentricity maxima, ~200kyrs from now. So it may be up to us this time. That will be by genetics or glacially sponsored evolution. As I have no offspring in the offing I do not really have a dominant preference, although I have become almost supportive of Mr Nye’s approach to taking our chances with glacial inception. Imagine if Ganopolski et al (2016) are wrong? Maybe the glacial inception trigger is not 240 ppm CO2. It could be that the confluence of a quiet sun/low N65 summer insolation at a half-precession old interglacial is all that is necessary. We have actually been here once before. We were on the stage as our stone age selves for as long during the last interglacial as our civilizations have been during this one. Obviously few of us, or our immediate offspring, will still be around to perhaps witness this. Interestingly, the possibility exists that we will preserve the current ratio of LIH/HIH until the next regularly scheduled interglacial, or we will not. It is literally just that simple. That is why my hominid compass is trending towards Mr. Nye’s approach. Because being wrong might actually be right, in the long, continuing, hominid run. We could use a better hominid after all. How we get a better hominid may actually be up to us, this time……… Given precisely “when we live” this literally is the ultimate intelligence test. Oddly enough, I am now OK if H. sapiens fails. It took a lot of research to come to such a conclusion.

    P.P.S. Which means that please, please, challenge each and every statement I have made. Every single one is a trap. Even at 4 links per comment, I sit on the web of knowledge ready to bury you in reams of scholarly literature (and the links thereto). This is the most exacting intelligence test H. sapiens has ever encountered. And H. sapiens does not have to be the winner. I am no longer in this for the species. I am in this for the genus. As befits the most intelligent intelligence test of our time is that by losing, the genus might very well win. As may have often been the case, this iteration of the genus Homo may get to decide. So, go ahead, knock yourselves out. I would love to be there to interview those of Canadian extraction south, or marginally north, of the next Laurentide continental ice sheet terminal moraine.

    It all sort of boils down to how much ice you prefer in your margarita, doesn’t it master Nye?

    • Mods : I guess his comment above was meant for the Bill Nye thread
      …he could have made it a lot shorter as well
      (It would be good if WUWT comments sat in collapsed mode, showing only the first 5 lines until you clicked to ‘expand comment’

  41. #1 Guardian pension fund has not de-invested, whilst the actual Guardian newspaper losses are subsidized by it’s offshore tax avoiding huge fund.

    #2 The BBC pension fund does seem to lean towards Green Investments , whilst at the same time it gives hours of free unchallenged promotion to firms like Tesla , that it holds shares in Paul Homewood

  42. I hope McKinnen and his fellow idiots go through and divest. It will be a great buying opportunity for me.

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