That article mentions three key numbers. The first one is widely known, the 2 degrees warming limit currently adopted internationally as a goal.
The second is the number of gigatons of carbon that still may be emitted into the atmosphere if the 2 degrees goal is to be achieved. And the third number is the number of gigatons of carbon in the proven reserves owned by fossil fuel companies.
McKibben’s math is simple. We need to prevent the evil fossil fuel companies from burning all that carbon, or we’re cooked. He may want to use the terms of solid poison, liquid poison, and poison gas proposed yesterday on this blog for coal, oil, and gas as a rhetorical device. Right now he is comparing fossil fuel to tobacco.
But McKibben stops half way through. He doesn’t ask what winning his fight would mean for fossil fuel prices and fossil fuel companies’ profits.
But that is a vital question.
If you put about 80 percent of proven reserves under a big “off limits” sign, what might that mean for the prices of the remaining 20%?
Might they possibly go up?
And what might be the result for the profits of ExxonMobile and other fossil fuel companies, if their prices go up very substantially?
Wouldn’t all those colleges he advises to get rid of their fossil fuel stock miss out on the greatest boom in fossil fuel stock prices in history?
Remember that the remaining 80 percent would only be off limits for burning as fuel. They would still carry value as raw materials for the chemical industry.
Related post: The Simple Solution to Global Warming