By John Abraham & Dana Nuccitelli
My friends and I get together once a month to play Texas HoldEm poker – great conversation, a few drinks, snacks and laughs. But I don’t like high-stakes poker. Gambling with high-value is not a wise choice, particularly if the pain of the loss translates beyond oneself.
The fossil fuel industry is bluffing society in a multi-trillion dollar high-stakes poker game. Current reserves of fossil fuels are five times more than we can afford to burn if we want to keep global warming to less than 2°C; and we have to keep global warming below 2°C. The net worth of fossil fuel corporations, the value of their chip stack, is based on fully exploiting these reserves. Financial leaders are expressing great concerns about betting on fossil fuels. Forbes magazine says,
“Groups as diverse as Shell, Mercer, HSBC, prominent insurance companies and re-issuers, Standard & Poor’s and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have been giving clear warning signs about continuing to invest in fossil fuels.”
But fossil fuel-based corporations are still bluffing. They want expanded fossil fuel use; making massive investments in oil exploration, hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, and the Canadian tar sands. The latter two are particularly bad bets given their large greenhouse gas footprints, water, soil and air pollution problems; and tar sands need 40 years to recover the costs of multi-billion dollar plants.