An Interview With Bill McKibben: ‘We Need To Go Straight At The Fossil Fuel Industry’

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"An Interview With Bill McKibben: ‘We Need To Go Straight At The Fossil Fuel Industry’"

An illustration from Bill McKibben's new Rolling Stone piece, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math"

Below is an excerpt of an interview at Oilprice.com between James Stafford and climate activist Bill McKibben.

Oilprice.com: You have said that climate change is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced. Why do you think so little action is being taken to prevent it?

Bill McKibben: I think that so far the political and economic power of the fossil fuel industry has trumped all else.

OP: In your opinion what strategy holds the best chance of solving our climate change problems?

BM: Well, I think we need to go straight at the fossil fuel industry. This fall 350.org launches a divestment campaign on college campuses — we’re calling it ‘do the math,’ based on an article I wrote for Rolling Stone this summer that went wickedly viral. I’m not certain it will work, but I know that these are the guys (not the politicians) calling the shots, so we need to reach them.

OP: What is your message to the oil companies? They obviously make incredible profits from their business – how are you looking to persuade them to cut back on production? Also the oil companies are controlled by shareholders – most of these pension funds, etc…. Surely you also need to approach the shareholders?

BM: I don’t think the fossil fuel industry will listen, not until we build up a lot of pressure. I do think we can persuade some shareholders that they don’t want to be involved in this enterprise.

OP: Would you be able to share any of the arguments you will use?

BM: Profiting from companies that are overloading the atmosphere with carbon and changing the atmosphere is wrong.

OP: The southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline has been developed — all that is missing is permission from the White House to complete the final part. This has led many to believe that the Keystone XL will be built. What is your opinion? Do you fear that there is too much money to be made and too many ‘interests’ for it to be permanently blocked?

BM: I share that fear. Mitt Romney has promised to build it, and Obama hasn’t promised not to, so the odds are far from stellar.

OP: You have stated that the Canadian Tar Sands represent ‘Game Over’ for any ambitions to battle climate change. A lot of money stands to be made from their development, and Canada’s economy will receive huge benefits. Do you truly believe that the Canadian government could be persuaded to forfeit this massive resource?

BM: The Canadian people will decide. It’s a great test for a country that traditionally has helped solve world problems, not cause them.

OP: Developing countries such as China and India are the worst polluters, yet in order for them to reduce their emissions significantly they would need to hold back on their own economic development. Is this a fair request to make of them?

BM: We would need to help them make the transition to renewable energy, and fast. It’s not just the moral thing to do, it’s the practical one.

OP: Where will the funding come from to make this transition?

BM: From some tiny portion of the wealth the west accumulated in a hundred years of filling the atmosphere with carbon.

OP: How will the West pay for this?

BM: I’m guessing the most efficient way would be to transfer an awful lot of technology, but also direct aid to deal with climate emergencies already underway. Hillary has already said $100 billion a year would be appropriate.

OP: The U.S. is now producing more oil and natural gas than ever before, and whilst solar and wind projects are growing, fossil fuels still dominate. Obama is much stronger on climate issues than Bush was, yet is he strong enough?

BM: No one is strong enough — given the magnitude of the task, everyone has to step up their game.

OP: You say no one is strong enough. What policies would you like to see put in place – what could the politicians do?

BM: A price on carbon sufficient to keep 80% of current reserves underground, rebated directly to citizens.

OP: What impact do you see this having on economic growth?

BM: I imagine it would spur employment pretty dramatically. Renewable energy is far more labor-intensive than fossil fuel production. So for those of us who worry more about working people than about windfall profits for oil companies, it may net out. A better question is: what does it do to our economy if we manage to overheat the earth? This summer’s drought provides a small taste.

OP: Why is climate skepticism continuing to gain momentum in the face of terrible droughts and changing weather patterns?

BM: I don’t think it is. The percentage of Americans who understand the planet is warming has grown steadily. The skeptics have lots of money, but they have a hard time fighting what is becoming to obvious to anyone who steps out the door: the planet is warming quickly and disastrously.

James Stafford is the Editor of Oilprice.com. This interview was first published at Oilprice.com and was reprinted with permission.

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35 Responses to An Interview With Bill McKibben: ‘We Need To Go Straight At The Fossil Fuel Industry’

  1. Ken Barrows says:

    Wait a minute. How to convince the companies to cut back on oil production, the interviewer asks.

    If oil companies cut back on production, won’t many of us complain about the higher prices? Why doesn’t the USA just ban buying oil contracts on margin, watch the price plummet, and see the production decline?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Because interfering in the ‘free market’ to stop rent-seeking financial parasites making bets with make-believe money, is Çarmnism’.

  2. Andy Olsen says:

    Thank you for speaking truth to power, Bill McKibben. If we take on the fossil energy oligarchs, we’re going straight to the power and cutting out the “middleman.” (Congress).

    His message can also be summarized in this quote from Frederick Douglas:
    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Nice interview, Bill. Your tone and sense of urgency are becoming more direct, in keeping with the bad news we’ve been getting this year from the Arctic and just about everywhere else. It was especially cool to hear you expressing these thoughts to someone from the oil industry.

    We need to take this to the next level and demand a carbon tax, not just float the idea.

    Sweden did it, in spite of having an already low carbon economy, with high renewable market share. They did it because it was the right thing to do, the kind of argument that you make so well.

    • You’ve identified the conundrum, Mike. It’s easy to have a carbon tax in a low-carbon economy. Not so in a high-carbon economy. We do need a carbon tax that will reduce emissions by 80%+ ASAP, but it will be extremely disruptive, even with a rebate. The law of unintended consequences looms large. Not that it should stop us. I’m just pointing out the planning and complications it’ll entail, not to mention the outright hostile resistance. Look at how much resistance was spurred by the idea that the government should administer healthcare like any other utility function, like roads. It provoked an entirely new political party with a special penchant for the 2nd Amendment. Imagine making gasoline 3X more expensive overnight.

      It has to be about converting the most retrograde public figures we can find. Have a sit-down with the Pentagon–they get it. Bring in the climate guys from NSIDC and other institutes. Once there is some public preparedness, then maybe a carbon tax flies. But as long as the Tea Party sees itself as protecting America from an over-reaching government, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell. Or an ice cap’s chance in the Actic.

  4. Gingerbaker says:

    I think McKibben is wrong. We don’t need to ” go straight at the fossil fuel industry”. We need to ignore them completely.

    Working to find market-based solutions has been a near complete failure and will not get the job done in time to save civilization. We are already straddling 2C change, and still have the highest carbon output in human history.

    We need a governmental solution to global warming. And we could do it – solve the carbon problem – in 5 years if we put our minds to it.

    Why not spend the amount we just squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan on a huge centralized PV installation in the Mojave desert?

    Supposedly, such an installation, paid for with our tax dollars, would provide so much free electrical power we could – and should – tear the electric meters off our buildings for the next one thousand years. Electricity would be free.

    We could inductively electrify our roads, so even the lousy battery technology we have today would work for all our transportation needs.

    We don’t need expensive rooftop solar installations – we are uniquely blessed with near constant sunshine in a large desolate area – the Mojave.

    We could put millions to work retrofitting houses with electric heating , adding inductive chargers to our highways and streets.

    And we would not have to deal with the ten thousand and one complexities of hammering out market solutions upon recalcitrant industries.

    Why are we not even seriously discussing a centralized governmental response to the greatest threat to national security the country and world has ever faced?

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Excellent comment. And you will get a dramatic centralized response sooner or later regardless of the flavour of the President, ME

    • SecularAnimist says:

      Gingerbaker wrote: “We don’t need expensive rooftop solar installations – we are uniquely blessed with near constant sunshine in a large desolate area – the Mojave.”

      You don’t know what you are talking about.

      Distributed solar is a lot cheaper than building “a huge centralized PV installation in the Mojave desert” — AND the nationwide super-grid that would be needed to distribute that electricity, with the accompanying massive power losses.

      Distributed PV on the nation’s flat commercial rooftops alone could generate more electricity than all the nuclear power plants in the USA — onsite, where it is used, with no transmission losses. Los Angeles for example could generate nearly ALL of its peak electricity consumption from local PV.

      I have nothing against utility-scale solar, and it’s a very good thing that a whole lot of it is being built now, all over the country, much of it on degraded and otherwise unusable land (e.g. on top of landfills and brownfields), and much of it close to existing utility infrastructure so that connection costs are minimized.

      But your comment is, with all due respect, ill-informed nonsense.

      I wish people would take the time to look at what is really happening with the real solar industry in the real world today, before spouting such stuff.

    • SecularAnimist says:

      And if you want a “centralized government response” at the Federal level, fine — but the appropriate “centralized government response” is not to build a Godzilla solar power plant in the Mojave to power the whole country, it is to enact a nationwide renewable energy portfolio standard AND a nationwide feed-in tariff, similar to what Germany is doing. And then watch a few million solar roofs bloom. That’s how you rapidly grow the solar industry, while creating many, many thousands of jobs and economically empowering local communities.

      • Dick Smith says:

        Let’s have the central government do what it does well–tax–as in carbon tax. Let’s keep government out of trying to pick technologies (and “locking them in”).

        A one-time carbon tax as the mineral comes out of the ground or across the border will be passed on. As it is, it will sort out industries in every nook and cranny of the economy based on carbon use. It will spur energy efficiency innovations and some further conservation (i.e., reduce demand) in the most wasteful. It will (if the tax increases predictably) make alternatives technologies that don’t burn carbon more attractive–and scale up supply.

        • Gingerbaker says:

          Centralized government doesn’t do energy well?

          Perhaps you forgot about the Rural Electrification project which brought electricity to every rural home in the nation?

          Or the hundreds of hydroelectric and geothermal installations by governments around the world.

          Or the Interstate system. (Or perhaps you would have preferred we offered private industry the privilege of building our highways if they decided it might be profitable?)

          Most of the civilized world has centralized government doing “what it does best” – providing national health care. Most utilities. Safety inspections. Firefighting. National defense.

          But no – according to you, central government can’t do electricity? Are you kidding me?

    • You are saying: “Don’t think about cost. Just build the biggest projects you can think of, and give people electricity for free.”

      That is the kind of thinking that caused the collapse of the Soviet economy.

      It is surprising that anyone thinks we remake such a huge of the sector of the economy without worrying about doing it efficiently.

      • Gingerbaker says:

        Charles, you and secularanimist appear to be claiming that millions of rooftop installs would be less expensive than (a) large installation(s).

        This seems to me to be a most preposterous claim. The most expensive part of rooftop installations is the install, for the simple reason that each rooftop is different, there is no standardization of materials, and the cost of labor per each installed panel is huge.

        In contrast, there would be an enormous economy of scale in a large government installation. Panels would be purchased at below wholesale prices, there would be a standardized install using hugely-discounted bulk materials. All costs per panel/watt would be tiny compared to individual rooftop installs.

        A large installation would require concomitant construction of smart grid infrastructure, yes – but we NEED this anyway, regardless of which way we go.

        And, since doing it your way – the old way based on market solutions – is simply NOT WORKING fast enough – you need to add the trillions and trillions of additional dollars for climate mitigation to your end of the equation.

        Your criticism of the costs of decentralized vs centralized installations seems to me to be exactly 180 degrees wrong.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It’s impossible to ignore the fossil fuel business. Its trillions in riches are the very basis of the global capitalist Moloch, and they will come looking for you if you seriously threaten their money and power.

  5. Pam Krimsky says:

    Fossil fuel companies will be stopped only by the people – neither governments nor companies will stop them – there is money to be made here. If people can be educated quickly, they would realize we are on the brink of disaster. Even though people are beginning to awaken, due to the erratic climate (lack of) patterns, and the bad effects it’s having on our lives personally,we need to act quickly.
    When people begin to realize the extent of environmental problems, they may stop buying large vehicles, switch as much over as possible to green energy sources, and stop buying everything because it’s available. Only the will we see some progress. I hope it will not be too late.

    • The really hard part is: our entire economy is predicated on fossil fuels. People don’t understand how integrated they are. They comprise by far the majority of fertilizers, for example. We literally eat oil and natgas.

      All manufacturing, almost all plastic.

      Also, think of what would happen to your 401K if all fossil fuel companies were suddenly worth 20% of what they are now. Think of how that would ripple through the support industries.

      Unemployment would go through the roof, in the short term, unless there were a massive, instantaneous, well-coordinated offset for retrofitting for the new energy paradigm. And if you think about it, where would the money come for that, once the fossil fuel industry stopped functioning?

      As much as we don’t want to face it, a rapid decline of fossil fuel usage would be extremely disruptive to not just the economy, but to the food supply chain, not to mention electric power. In the short term, it would mean rationed power–just a few hours of electricity a day–for most Americans, until we could get the alternatives in place. People really have to believe in the threat to put up with that.

      That is the crux of the problem–getting people to believe the urgency of the threat.

  6. Tami Kennedy says:

    From Bill’s article there are 5 times proven reserves needed to exceed the 450ppm/2C threshold. I just read an article http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2012/09/08/gamechanging-natural-gas-tech-gets-green-light/ where methyl hydrate reserves estimated at twice total of other carbon sources. Am I safe to multiply Bill’s number by 2? Making scary terrifying.

  7. Tami Kennedy says:

    Oil is so tied up in everything we do. And we are so wasteful at everything we do. Cases of plastic bottled water used for convenience, with only a fraction recycled is one of thousands or examples. The Drastic-Action button will need to be so big.

  8. Mark E says:

    College divestment from FF-Cos is an awesome idea, but will likely be much harder than the campaign to divest from South Africa. Back then, it wasn’t the same % of big bucks that many campuses have from the FF-Cos, and there were abundant financial alternatives. Still, I’m all for this campaign! Great idea! To be most effective, it must really go all in….

    In the USA, there are only three ways to get the FF-Cos to leave proven reserves in the ground:

    (A) Reduce *global* demand to the point that it is not worth their while; or

    (B) Pay them to leave it there; or

    (C) Amend our constitution, at a minimum with respect to the private property rights of mineral estate owners (like me).

    Option C ain’t gonna happen, so that leaves options A or B. A college divestment campaign isn’t going to have the money to finance eminent domain “sequester-in-place climate preserves. So that leaves Option B, make it so not worth their while they leave it there. And so we have to not just go straight after the fossil fuel companies, but every heating plant, light bulb, water fountain, dorm fridge, and wireless hub on every campus that runs off of fossil fuels.

    Student unions should charge a very high user fee for FF vehiciles on campus.

    And as our campuses become FF free, the next target is all the shops pizza and beer places the college crowd spends their bucks. No green power, no green bills.

    Do the math! I love it.

    Now if we can just get the faculty to de-carbonize their SUVs

  9. Leif says:

    Continued dependence on fossil fuel is what is HURTING the economy. NOT the other way around as stated by OP. Those supposed “profits” are only achievable because corporations get below value extraction costs on resources, billions in tax subsidies, a blind eye turned to the environmental destructions, and public financing to the debt burden of borrowed money interest to foreign and domestic money lenders. In addition,please tell me, what is the value of a productive ocean and stable climate to the people of the world? The value of species lost each day to an exploitive economy. Who the hell is getting rich here? Stop profits from the pollution of the commons and a big portion of climatic disruptions will slow way down in a hurry and the Green Awakening Economy will start to add true value to the commons.

    One other point. FREE ENERGY should not be the goal. Energy from all sources should be pegged at the cost of all social services. From street sweeper the national defense and universal health care. Use lots – support lots. Distributed energy production then becomes a “cash cow” to each producer and taxes, health costs, debt burden and polluted commons vanish. The sun provides ALL!

  10. McKibben’s right. The oil companies are the ones demonizing the scientists, polluting the political process, and attempting to kill off the alternatives. They’re what’s standing between us and a solution.

  11. BSDetector says:

    OK, so the “fossil fuel industry” is the problem. What does that mean? What companies are you talking about? The integrated majors? The independent refineries? The oil and gas exploration guys? The coal mines? The nat gas producers? This is an enormous sector that is very complex – who are you going to ask us to divest from?

    And what are they (this mass of companies that we refer to so blithely as the fossil fuel industry) doing that’s a problem besides pursuing their own financial self interest? How do expect to take them on if we don’t understand how those different sectors of the industry really work and the real interests/factors/issues that drive their behavior? I rarely, if ever, see any serious analysis about how such a goal could truly be achieved.

    Do you really think that putting “pressure” on them is going to change anything? Public opinion? How is that going to make a difference? (Bill K admits that he doesn’t know if it’s going to work – I’ll grant him that.) We’re talking about a stated goal of putting these guys essentially out of business and then we say we’re going to shame them into it? That’s not going to happen.

    Some deep thinking, some deep analysis of the industry is needed and real strategies need to be developed that reflect a deeper understanding of the sector. The goal of essentially eliminating oil from the economy will require something much more serious, something resembling, probably, guerrilla warfare.

    All I hear/see is more talk of public pressure campaigns, standard activism. And that’s not even going to scratch the surface of the problem, much less attain such lofty goals.

    It’s seriously depressing is what it is.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Our police state is too developed to allow guerrilla warfare. You are correct that we need new thinking and asymettrical tactics, though.

      • Mark E says:

        Not new thinking…… old.

        Did Gandhi do something new when he overthrew the British empire without warefare? Nope. He just implemented simple teachings about living simply, and not fighting your enemy, but reforming your brother…. for example, what if we actually lived according to the Sermon on the Mount in each moment of our lives?

        If you can convince yourself its OK to bean a oil exec on the noggin’ with a rock, the same flawed ethical reasoning can easily mislead others into reducing emissions via a intentional pandemic.

        If we start talking about guerrilla warfare, we might as well stop trying to create a different reality. Ye reap what ye sow, ye know?

        • And the denier/Tea Party crowd, fueled (literally) by their fossil-fuel allies, have way more guns and will have way more immediate motivation once you take their ride from them–and the electricity from their beer fridge and flat-screen tv. And deprive them of their Cheetos. And drive the price of everything through the roof overnight. And collapse the value of their assets (cf. 2008) They will not like that one teeny bit. If you think they got p.o.’d about health care reform…

          Violence is a meretricious attractor. It breeds a fatal and losing dynamic.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Violence simply plays to the Right’s strength-their hatred of others and willingness to destroy opposition by any means available (but preferably by violence). In the end, however, the panic-stricken resistance of the public, when the real horrors commence, will be met by a violent reaction, that is certain, so there will be no escape. And, as in all internecine conflicts where the rabble attempt to interfere with the Masters’ prerogatives, the elites will quickly mobilise militias and private armies to protect their interests. In the USA, given the extent of Rightwing militias and ubiquity of gun ownership, this will be nasty. There are thousands of Brieviks being brainwashed and prepared for the coming global civil war, and scores of d’Áubuissons, Savimbis and Uribes eager to lead them.

    • It’s true. The industry is very large. Very entrenched. Very diverse. One comprehensive strategy would go as follows:

      1. In depth communication describing industry political, economic, and environmental abuses to the public. This PR campaign would need to be ongoing and hit all levels of media and government.

      2. Direct action against industry projects. A good model for this is the action against the Keystone XL pipeline. However, the actions would have to be more broad-based and diverse. Similar to what is being waged against the coal industry now.

      3. Direct political action and lobbying. An increase in lobbying activity explaining to our government why these actions are being undertaken and providing a list of concessions necessary from industry in order for actions to cease (requirements for action cease fire).

      4. Related to the above… Lines in the sand drawn on overall carbon emissions reduction per year, on incentives for renewables (at least four times the levels of direct and indirect incentives to oil, gas, and coal), and on government public communication providing education on the existence and risks of global warming and resource depletion.

      5. Publicly blackballing major oil company stock holders and industry leaders who do not agree to the terms above.

      6. Organizing a campaign to promote and protect the alternatives. Direct support for GM’s Volt. Direct support for wind energy. Direct support for solar energy. Direct support for smart grids and energy storage systems. This is not just word of mouth, it is coordination with the new industries in order to give them a PR advantage. In addition, identifying specific areas where coal, oil, and gas can be directly replaced by alternatives.

      7. Schools, schools, schools. Coordinate non-profits to develop a fund to put solar panels on public schools. Campaign in a ‘save our schools, save our world’ program that raises both the importance of schools and the need for alternative energy. Enlist teachers, students, librarians. Develop renewable energy and global warming laboratories at schools through their science and technology programs. Form local fundraisers to collect money for school solar panels and education programs. Hit the schools in Texas, Oklahoma, California, North Dakota, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Florida the hardest. These are either key energy regions, areas that will be hardest hit by climate change or both.

      8. Change the language. Paint those who support fossil fuel industries and who deny global warming as irresponsible, short sighted, and harmful to society. If they are going to act in an amoral fashion. Shame, shame, shame them.

      9. Focus on the media. Hold the media accountable for irresponsibility in its portrayal of energy and climate issues. Expand the scope of agencies like Media Matters to include the entire media on issues like global warming, climate change, and alternative energy. As an example, I see about one hit piece on the Chevy Volt at least every other day. These articles, the people who write them, and the news sources they come from should be called out, fact checked, and exposed for publishing inaccurate and harmful information.

      10. Direct action to protest public officials funded by the oil, gas, and coal industry. Identify political officials funded by oil, gas, and coal. Publicly post information about them on ‘watch dog’ sites on the internet. Pick visible and prominent figures from this group and organize strategic protests against them aimed to call attention to their pandering to oil, gas and coal special interests. Identify oil, gas, and coal funding sources, organizations hired to do their political dirty work etc.

      11. Provide an agency designed to protect the scientists. Provide legal assistance to scientists assaulted by fossil fuel special interests. Provide public advocacy on behalf of these scientists. Put people to work tracking every death threat, every instance of public besmirchment, every fallacious litigation against these scientists, every invasion and violation of their human and constitutional rights. Track groups that have targeted scientists. Identify individuals. Target these groups and individuals with both civil and criminal prosecution.

      12. Protect our future. On every Earth Day, each year, to symbolically communicate our resolve to protect our future, we could organize groups of concerned individuals to for linked arm rings around the institutions and infrastructure we hold dear. We could encircle GISS, NASA, NOAA offices, Solar panel facilities, windmills, a neighborhood Chevy Volt. Our bicycles. Our local farms. We could take a picture and post them to all forms of media on the net under the header “Earth Day, Protect our Future, the things, people, creatures, and places we must protect to ensure a good future.” The idea is to create a ritual action, repeated yearly, that cements in people’s minds the importance of preserving the future. Have prominent individuals make speeches. Encourage people to write poems or publish blogs on this subject. Encourage only certain foods (local, vegan etc) to be eaten on the week leading up to this day. The idea is to cement a cultural value, to provide a symbolic action, and to create a basis for a new form of moral good. And, last of all, to force the world to recognize it.

      • Interesting, well thought-out (if one accepts certain premises), and passionate. Some good stuff here.

        But Mark E is right. It’s about simplicity. The old hippie outlook.

        Oil is the PREDICATE of everything we enjoy, from transportation to medicine to food. We cannot simply attack the facilitators of our own predicate. We are implicated and complicit up the wazoo. We are talking about a radical change in lifestyle and approach, at least in the short term. We can salvage some of the good stuff that petrotechnology has provided, but not overnight, and not without a LOT of disruption.

  12. Todd says:

    The problem is framed here as being too much oil production. This is fundamentally wrong. the problem is too much demand for oil. The solution is to pressure auto manufacturers to stop producing gas guzzlers and to roll-out more fuel-efficient cars. They are making progress but it is too slow and it must be accelerated. An additional solution is to pressure municipalities and states to develop more public transport capacity to replace car trips. Recent experience shows that this is working, it just needs to be scaled up.

    • David Smith says:

      Any car that uses any gas is in fact a gas-guzzler. You may feel better because your car gets 100% better gas mileage than the other guy’s. The increase of the global consumer class neutralizes any gains in this effort. Car companies are aggressively trying to sell as many cars world wide as they can to people who have never had cars before. The only solution is to retire the internal combustion engine completely. You can’t solve anything without first openly acknowledging the problem. Transforming passenger cars is the easy part. Commercial and industrial transportation is a much bigger problem; bulldozers, dump trucks, 18 wheelers that need to run 12 hours a day.

      • Todd says:

        Yes the vision is fossil-fuel-free transport. There are now several thousand owners of the Chevy Volt, which can be driven as a pure electric if re-charged after about every 35 miles of travel. In fact many Volt owners have done exactly that, and use maybe 1-2 gallons of gasoline a month. This is not yet ff-free, but it is pretty darn close, IMHO, close enough for now, if we assume rapid increase in wind/solar/hydro production to supply the electricity. This will at least imasculate oil companies in the near term.

  13. Spike says:

    I like Bill’s concise clear and direct answers to the questions above.

    What is abundantly clear is that we are choosing to proceed with global warming, and choosing not to stop it. There is wilful blindness akin to criminality.

    If I were an oil or coal exec I’d be very concerned about what will happen when the public rumble the disaster unleashed on them.

  14. getplaning says:

    “Going at the fossil fuel companies” is the wrong approach. We need to go at the US Congress and governing bodies around the worls and force them to repeal tax subsidies and regulatory gifts to the fossil fuel industries that allow them to externalize their costs and keep the prices if their products artificially low.
    Letting the “free market” actually be free of price and market manipulation will cause the prices of oil, gas, and coal to find their true values, and only people and industries who use them will pay the price for them.
    A realignment of energy priorities would take place in a matter of months, if not years.