THE CLIMATE GAMBLERS

Well hello, Mr. Chairman,
Good men and women.
Now we are gathered here
To prevent a crime.
You’ve got  to wash your hands,
Get rid of all your carbon.
Come to the altar now.
Your life is on the line.

You know you can’t dispute it.
You can’t refute it.
CO2 is poisoning
The atmosphere.
You know the ocean’s rising,
Creation dying.
Fossil fuels behind it all,
The science is clear.

It’s not the time to hold ‘em.
It’s time you sold ‘em.
No time for gamblin,
And no time to delay.
You better keep my money
On the future while you’re able.
If you’re betting on tomorrow,
— Divest today.

You know the day is coming;
People gonna ask you,
What were you doing when the
Climate ran away?
Why don’t you all just face it,
and just embrace it?
Business as usual
Has led us all astray.

If we can’t trust the seasons,
Snow in the mountains,
Rain in the summertime,
How long can we endure?
We can’t live without water,
Unlike coal and oil.
Ounce of prevention’s
Worth many pounds of cure.
CHORUS

You know we all had a blast,
While the party lasted,
Long before the oceans and
The air began to change.
Now we know the consequences
Of profiting from darkness.
Everyone knows better now,
And you will bear the blame.

Now you may be wondering what
To do with all those dollars.
We need clean energy
From wind and sun.
We’ve got to use that money,
Rebuild this country.
Gettin’ out of fossil fuel,
There’s plenty to be done.
CHORUS

lyrics ©Doug Hendren, Nancy Beall 2015
A grateful parody of “The Gambler” (Don Schlitz / Kenny Rogers)
Inspired by James Michel and the 350 Mass Divestment campaign.

What’s it about? These lyrics were written for the 350 Mass Divestment campaign, for an action at a meeting of the Massachusetts Pension Reserve Investment Management board.

It’s about divesting from owning shares in companies which are financing our collective destruction. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it simply, “It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future.”

The basic science of how CO2 causes the climate to change has been understood since the mid-1800’s. The American public, however, has been deceived for decades by heavily funded public relations of the powerful fossil fuel industry. Their strategy is exactly what the tobacco industry used against the American public four decades ago. It has been highly successful in confusing the public and preventing effective legislation to respond to our unfolding climate catastrophe. This arguably criminal deception of the public has been meticulously exposed in the 2010 book “Merchants of Doubt”, and also in the newly released film by the same name.

The fossil fuel divestment movement was begun by Bill McKibben and 350.org just over two years ago, and has been the fastest growing divestment movement in history. Beginning with colleges and churches, it has expanded to include a growing list of cities, universities and other institutions worldwide. Recent voices joining this chorus include the Rockefeller family, the Guardian news organization, The World Council of Churches, Pope Francis and the Bank of England.

Earth’s atmospheric CO2 has risen from a pre-industrial level of 280 ppm (parts per million) to a current level of 400 ppm. Carbon dioxide causes the atmosphere to retain more solar heat, resulting in a global average temperature increase of 0.8 degrees Centigrade (about 1.5 degrees F) in recent decades. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and the hottest of these was 2014. The fact that the eastern US has had an unusually cold winter is strictly a regional variation of our disrupted climate; at the same time, Alaska’s legendary Iditarod dogsled race had to be re-routed for lack of snow.

Though some US politicians (notably Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma) claim that snow in Washington DC means that the climate is not warming, this is simply nonsense. Is he really that stupid? Does he really not grasp the concept of “average” which we all learn in grade school? Of course not. He is part of our legislature acting on behalf of the fossil fuel industry by deceiving the public.

There is virtually complete scientific agreement that if we are to avoid catastrophic, runaway climate change, we need to keep global temperature rise below 2.0 degrees C.  Calculations show that this means leaving the majority of existing fossil fuel resources in the ground. If we act rationally, we will do this – meaning that these will become “stranded assets”, greatly reducing the dollar value of the companies that own those assets.

Only two years ago, the idea of stranded fossil fuel assets (i.e. a “carbon bubble”) was not taken seriously by the financial world. Thanks largely to public awareness driven by the divestment movement, however, this is being taken very seriously by bankers and lawmakers.

Do you have a retirement plan? Do you know what it is invested in? You may want to talk to the managers and find out. After all, there’s no sense in investing in things that are going to take away your future. It’s your money. If you want a future, invest in it!

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