A common question we get is, “Why target the fossil fuel industry? Isn’t this different from the tobacco industry because the fossil fuel (FF) industry is just filling our demand and isn’t really hurting people?”
The answer is no. This is very comparable to the tobacco industry, except that even if we personally quit fossil fuels, we will not be immune from its effects (unlike tobacco). The FF industry is actively marginalizing climate science, stalling climate legislation, and searching for more carbon reserves to eventually burn – no matter the costs to people around the world.
In fact, the FF industry already has 5 times the amount of carbon in their reserves that scientists say is safe to burn:
Not only that, but if the government or citizens make any attempt to try to control carbon emissions, the FF industry hits them with lobbyists. The FF industry has spent $140 million in 2012 alone lobbying in D.C. outspending the environmentalists nearly 10 fold.
The really scary thing is that nearly every legislator in D.C. took campaign contributions from the FF industry as well.
We are living through a period in which the FF industry is not only filling a demand for burning carbon, but it is also perpetuating that demand by protecting their subsidies and ability to endlessly burn carbon in D.C. no matter the costs to people around the world.
This movement is changing the venue of climate activism. We might not be able to compete with the FF industry financially in D.C., but we have our Universities, cities, churches, and non-profits, each of which trade in a currency just as powerful as dollars: moral authority. When we engage each other in serious discussions of the ethics of our investments, our obligation to the future, and how climate change jeopardizes all that we love and cherish, we are building a broad movement capable of combating the financial power of the fossil fuel industry and staving off the worst impacts of climate change.