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.

New title

Hey there keener,

Thanks for being an avid reader of our in-depth journalism, which is read by millions and made possible thanks to more than 4,200 readers just like you.

The Narwhal’s growing team is hitting the ground running in 2022 to tell stories about the natural world that go beyond doom-and-gloom headlines — and we need your support.

Our model of independent, non-profit journalism means we can pour resources into doing the kind of environmental reporting you won’t find anywhere else in Canada, from investigations that hold elected officials accountable to deep dives showcasing the real people enacting real climate solutions.

There’s no advertising or paywall on our website (we believe our stories should be free for all to read), which means we count on our readers to give whatever they can afford each month to keep The Narwhal’s lights on.

The amazing thing? Our faith is being rewarded. We hired seven new staff over the past year and won a boatload of awards for our features, our photography and our investigative reporting. With your help, we’ll be able to do so much more in 2022.

If you believe in the power of independent journalism, join our pod by becoming a Narwhal today. (P.S. Did you know we’re able to issue charitable tax receipts?)

‘We need to learn to do things faster’: Canada’s new environment minister talks climate — and compromise

Canada’s new environment and climate change minister has some first-hand experience when it comes to living in a resource town that goes through boom and...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism