On Divestment

When that thing that people may be afraid might happen is already happening, only change the ‘thing’ to ‘investing in dirty energy’ and the fear to ‘you can still make money on your money if you stop.’ The world’s largest investment house reports on tomorrow, today – pulling your money out of fossil fuels already turns a profit:

In places, BlackRock’s findings are redacted, so as not to show the size of particular holdings, but the conclusions are clear: after examining “divestment actions by hundreds of funds worldwide,” the BlackRock analysts concluded that the portfolios “experienced no negative financial impacts from divesting from fossil fuels. In fact, they found evidence of modest improvement in fund return.” The report’s executive summary states that “no investors found negative performance from divestment; rather, neutral to positive results.” In the conclusion to the report, the BlackRock team used a phrase beloved by investors: divested portfolios “outperformed their benchmarks.”

In a statement, the investment firm downplayed that language, saying, “BlackRock did not make a recommendation for TRS to divest from fossil fuel reserves. The research was meant to help TRS determine a path forward to meet their stated divestment goals.” But Tom Sanzillo—I.E.E.F.A.’s director of financial analysis, and a former New York State first deputy comptroller who oversaw a hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar pension fund—said in an interview that BlackRock’s findings were clear. “Any investment fund looking to protect itself against losses from coal, oil, and gas companies now has the largest investment house in the world showing them why, how, and when to protect themselves, the economy, and the planet.” In short, the financial debate about divestment is as settled as the ethical one—you shouldn’t try to profit off the end of the world and, in any event, you won’t.

If the ‘masters of the Universe’ are already running for cover, the debate basically devolves to ‘you’re not the boss of me.’ Rising tides and disappearing oysters beg to differ.

Objective Annihilation

As objective annihilation passes into more or less likely scenarios dependent on what actions we take – vs. other scenarios (Cold War) which had to take into account the actions others might take against us, we begin to look for signals about how the culture is handling the ‘actions we take’ thing. In the round, it’s largely what this blog is, or should be, about.

Certainly, many now say that terrorists belong to the later scenario outlined above. But their actions have done nothing if not emphasize their belief in the former as the best way to bring western society to its knees.

But whether we’re taking measures to change things, and whether these even measures matter, becomes a matter of great concern, locally but especially to corporate business interests highly invested in selling us things. The perceptions of either might even be considered more important than the answer on both, at least to these larger, multi-tentacled entities.

Which is all to ask, what do people believe about corporate attempts/postures on ‘going green’? Even that term is still evolving, slower than we’d like, of course – we want to see change in 140 characters or we’re convinced it isn’t happening. But it is, maybe becoming more plain and tangible or more insidious, depending on how you brew your cynicism.

But is it still growing, or was it just a fashion and have we seen the zenith of eco-concern? (Annihilation vogue?) This is a real question, pointing to perception beyond the actual events. The hockey stick has been re-confirmed again, for example, but the constant badgering of the fossil fuel confederate right wing has an affect. Most Republicans now believe the president is a Muslim, after all.

The question of ‘do you think it’s working’ confers a much more nefarious kind of survey.