Church decides that Fossil Fuels are a Bad Investment

In a historic move, the United Church of Christ voted to divest all investments in fossil fuel companies from its pensions and portfolios over the next five years.  The group came to this decision because of climate change concerns.  It was a move motivated by the group 350.org, which is urging other groups such as universities to shed investments in fossil fuels.  The UCC is the first major religious institution in the country to drop fossil fuels from investment portfolios.  United Church Funds President Donald Hart said of the decision, “Implementing the multiple strategies outlined in this resolution will demand time, money and care — but we believe creation deserves no less”.  Reverend Jim Antal, the resolution’s biggest proponent said, “”This resolution becomes a model for all faith communities who care about God’s creation and recognize the urgent scientific mandate to keep at least 80 percent of the known oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. . .  This vote expresses our commitment to the future. By this vote, we are amplifying our conviction with our money.”

United-Church-of-Christ[1]

In taking their money out of fossil fuel investments, the Church of Christ is not only acknowledging that climate change is a real threat, but they are clearly stating that environmental stewardship is a moral issue.  In the words of 350.org founder Bill McKibben, this is “a profoundly moral argument: if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from the wreckage.”  While this will not directly reduce any carbon emissions or bankrupt any polluters, it is a bold symbolic gesture.  And in the world of economics, more and more people are realizing that they can vote with their dollars.

More info at the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Renewable Energy? Why Not! pt 4

4. Takes jobs away from coal/oil/gas etc.

Proponents of renewable energy like myself will often point out that the growing industry is adding thousands and thousands of new jobs.  But others are quick to counter that these jobs come at the cost of existing jobs in the fossil fuel industry.  This may be true, probably is, but there is some overlap.  When someone gets hired to engineer a new solar/wind project, it doesn’t mean that a coal miner or plant technician is fired.  Of course, the goal of many proponents is to eliminate fossil fuel usage, which would take the jobs with it.


But which would you prefer: working outside, in the fresh air on a wind turbine, or underground in dark coal mine, thousands of feet underground, breathing in coal dust?  I don’t want to offend anyone who has worked for a coal company, but some jobs are better than others. Remember the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in 2010? 38 dead.  Or the Sago Mine disaster in 2006 with 12 dead?  I certainly wouldn’t want to work in a coal mine.  They are dangerous and hazardous to your health, and negligent companies managing them aren’t making anything better.  So maybe we can replace them with better jobs.  Now, I don’t want to tell anyone that they have to retrain for a new job, but as the workforce ages and retires, maybe instead of hiring new people to replace them, we replace them with cleaner, healthier, safer jobs.  Just a thought.