Sunday, January 12, 2014

ZenTiger The good oil on ethical investments

Jinty McTavish
An interesting post on the blog "Your NZ" on ethical investment.

Dunedin City Councillor Jinty MacTavish does not like the idea of Dunedin City Council investing in oil companies.
Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?
Presumably, when choosing NOT to invest in cigarettes or munitions, you'd also choose not to USE cigarettes or weapons, or support the use of them. So will this councilor be ceasing her use of oil and gas, and recommending the Council cease using the very substances destroying the world? Every time she fills her tank, is she not helping that unethical industry profit? I'm not sure Jinty McTavish is quite that ethical, and I'm not trying to attack her personally, as this is quite likely the general approach most people are taking.

It's therefore an interesting challenge to today's AGW believers. Should they really be using the very substances destroying the world, or because every-one does it, they can do it too. I said on another blog the other day (comment still in moderation so I wont link to it):
I’ll start believing [Man-made Global Warming] is urgent when over 20,000 people ... DONT fly to a climate change conference to discuss banning flying.

The amount of paper used at Copenhagen was a sizable forest.  [...] even those that believe the world is about to end can’t give up their use of flying and printing. Hypocritical wimps.

The problem with this approach of declaring the world will end unless flying is banned, etc and then immediately getting on an airplane, is you then need to explain why your trip is so much more important than the survival of the world. Like the Green Party MP that flew around Europe recently to find out how to stop other people* destroying the environment, they must be assuming that they are somehow exempt from their own morality.

Turning to a list of only ethical investments is one last consideration: ensuring that the chosen investments are not high risk or yield poor returns, given this investment is using OPM (Other People's Money). If so, some might consider that slightly more unethical than investing in oil production.

2 comment(s):

Tess said...

As someone who agrees with climate scientists that the climate is rapidly changing due to man-made emissions I can say that I try to live a life that restricts resource use. It's not just about oil and gas, it's about plastics, electronic items, and a host of consumer items that contribute to emissions.

We aren't rich, we have one car that we use as little as possible. We use bikes and we walk. We try to burn wood that we take off the local beach (it's come down the rivers and washed up). We buy second hand items when we can, we recycle computer parts, etc.

I'm not against oil, gas, and coal - indeed they contribute massively to our economy, but I think we need to cut down on our resource use as a society. If we live a simpler life and our government regulates pollution and emissions then I think we can hold back a climate catastrophe. Its a balance, we need an economy that can keep everyone out of poverty and we need to be good stewards of the environment so that we have somewhere for us all to live and thrive. It's no good being rich in a blasted wasteland and it's no good starving in a pristine wilderness.

ZenTiger said...

I'm not sure I agree with Climate Scientists. Equally, I'm not positive they are wrong. However, everything else in your comment I fully agree with, and doing much the same.

There has to be a lot of scope to live sustainably, to cut down on the huge amount of waste, to use technology better, to design more environmentally friendly houses and buildings (rainwater catchment, solar heating, double/triple insulation, etc.)

I'm amazed that literally forests of paper were printed at the climate conferences, when they could be going electronic - Kindles, tablets etc will encourage people to move away from paper. I'd like to see them leading the world on teleconferencing, waste minimization, paper minimization etc if they are to be treated seriously. The last people I want deciding what restrictions to make are people that believe they are exempt from those restrictions, due to their exalted position as policy makers.

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