Scott-Vrooman-Canadian-Oilsands.png

VIDEO: By Investing in Oil Companies, You’re Essentially Betting on How Long They Can Fool People

One hundred and ninety-five countries, including Canada, have formally agreed that we need to limit the Earth’s temperature rise over pre-industrial levels to two degrees. It’s uncontroversial.

Because going much beyond a two degree increase would be “incompatible with an organized global community” in the words of one of the UK’s top climate scientists. And if you’re not sure what that would look like, imagine the movie Mad Max but replace Mel Gibson’s character with a pile of hot dirt.

To have a decent chance of staying below two degrees, the world can only burn around a thousand more gigatonnes of CO2. But current fossil fuel reserves in the ground are about 3000 gigatonnes.

If we burn all that it would be beyond Mad Max. It would be like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when those guys’ faces melt off, but realistic and not suddenly like Wallace & Gromit attempting horror.

Companies are spending billions searching for more fossil fuel reserves, and we literally can’t burn the stuff we’ve already found. And I don’t mean literally in a “literally zillions” kind of way. We cannot physically do it and hope for a Mentally Sound Max future.

A new study this month in Nature made headlines by restating these numbers, but it went further to say specifically which reserves make the most sense to leave unburned. For Canada it means leaving 71 per cent of natural gas, 97 per cent of coal, and 99 per cent of oilsands in the ground.

And like a patient being told they have 6 months to live, we can expect the Canadian oil and gas sector to react with denial, and then to publicly challenge the credibility of the doctor, and then pay another doctor to give a better diagnosis.

You know, the things terminally ill patients normally do. The metaphor works.   

Fossil fuel companies will do everything in their power to get their reserves above ground, because their stock prices depend on it. If everyone agreed with the conclusions of this Nature paper, the value of fossil fuel companies would crash.

So by investing in their stocks, you’re effectively placing a bet on how long they can fool people. And while companies have fooled us into buying a lot of stupid crap, from Snuggies to two-person Snuggies to camouflage Snuggies, a lot more is at stake this time than just our dignity. 

This video originally appeared on The Toronto Star.

We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?
We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs hosted a Peace and Unity gathering. RCMP made arrests

This week Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs welcomed a delegation from across the country and beyond to the yintah (territory) for a Peace and Unity Summit. Through...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Support investigative journalism you won't find anywhere else
Support investigative journalism you won't find anywhere else
Get The Narwhal in your inbox!
People always tell us they love our newsletter. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism
Get The Narwhal in your inbox!
People always tell us they love our newsletter. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism