350.org: A Profile in Environmental Hypocrisy, Cronyism, and Corruption

Environmental group 350.org opposes fossil fuels and profits from investments in them Environmental group 350.org opposes fossil fuels and profits from investments in them[/caption] The case for replacing the use of fossil fuels for our energy needs entirely with renewable energy sources may sound convincing for many. This is the activist campaign presented by the non-governmental environmentalist group 350.org. But a closer look at the group reveals some other issues with their activism. Bankrolled by pro-fossil fuel groups, 350.org is a hypocritical organization engaging in phony activism and crony so-called capitalism. During this month, 350.org will be staging events in several U.S. cities against fossil fuels, during May 4-16, what they refer to as a “…wave of mass actions (that) will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects – to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerate the just transition to 100% renewable energy.” Actions speak louder than words. 350.org talks about good game about replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, but do they really believe what they espouse? The actions of many who associate with the group call their real commitment to the agenda, that they advocate, into question. Changing entirely to renewable energy, as advocated by 350.org, is unrealistic, unworkable, and will lower the qualify of life for all Americans. Renewable energy sources cannot compete on the open market with conventional fossil fuel energy. It is entirely logistically impossible to switch completely over to renewable energy. To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested,” The Wall Street Journal reported. Due to higher costs, renewable energy would hold back innovation and raises costs across the economy compared to fossil fuels. The advance of ideas and knowledge, as well as trade and communication benefit greatly from the low cost of energy generated by fossil fuels. While products from oil fuel our various modes of transportation, and natural gas is largely used for home heating, coal is used to generate a majority of our electricity. As of 2012, about 87 percent of world wide energy consumption comes from fossil fuels, about that same as it had ten years before that. Eliminating the use of fossil fuels will lower the cost of living and lead to higher death rates. ““Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire,” The Wall Street Journal reported. There are many who have investments in fossil fuels among those who support and donate to 350.org. The Gould Family Foundation gave $25,000 to 350.org in 2013, even while it owned $455,000 in Exxon Mobil and $437,000 in Chevron, while The Arkay Foundation notes on adjacent pages of its 2013 990 that it contributed to 350.org’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, while it concurrently holds $14 million in Vanguard’s Total World fund, a fund which has Exxon Mobil as its second-largest holding. Divest-Invest has promoted the use of oil investment, and yet 350.org has not divested themselves of them. A 990PDF IRS form shows that Divest-Invest gave 350.org $205,000 between 2011-2012, and Tom Van Dyck, one of the steering committee members of Divest-Invest, is a senior VP at RBC Wealth Management, which has a September 2014 newsletter reading: ‘Regarding upstream, the RBC Wealth Management Portfolio Advisory Group says equity investors may want to look into domestic oil producers.’ RBC is the entity promoting oil investment. Wallace Global which is leading the charge on Divest-Invest is heavily invested in RBC. There are numerous other examples, including the MacArthur Foundation, that, on its 990 from 2013, the MacArthur Foundation clearly has tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, in fossil fuel energy investments. Just one example is $13 million in the Ridgewood Energy Gulf of Mexico Oil & Gas Fund LP. The Sierra Club has $61.7 million invested – and is still in the process of drafting a full divestment policy, according to Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune. He stressed “we are fully confident that we can get as good if not better returns from the emerging clean energy economy than we can from investing in the dirty fuels from the past.” James Gustave “Gus” Speth and Tom Kruse are members of the board of 350.org, and they are associated with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF). Speth serves on the board of RBF while Kruse is program director for the global governance portion of the Democratic Practice program of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The hypocrisy is clearly illustrated by RBF being heavily invested in Exxon Mobil, the largest successor to Standard Oil. As of March 15, the fund’s investments were still in oil and natural gas, and RBF claimed it would take three to five years to reduce those holdings down to one percent. At the time, RBF had 5.2 percent, or about $45 million, of its funds invested in fossil fuels. However, the much wealthier Rockefeller Foundation, whose endowment tops $4 billion, is understood to be opposed to divestment for now. While staff members of 350.org are known to consume imported bottled water from plastic bottles, and founder Bill McKibben is a heavy user of plastic products, the organization opposes the use of plastic products. McKibben has opposed consumption of bottled water, and has called for a boycott of the product. McKibben is shown here in this photo pushing a shopping cart full of groceries packed in plastic bags. He has said, “Some fights, like global warming, are necessarily hard. And some fights are no-brainers: let’s stop using plastic stuff we don’t need,” yet takes home his groceries in plastic rather than paper bags. Additionally, McKibben has been seen being taken from events in a Chevrolet Captiva crossover SUV, which burns about 19-23 miles per gallon. Where is the fuel efficient “hybrid” car, or even a fully electric car, that McKibben would be expected to use given his stance on the use of fossil fuels? Middlebury College is heavily invested in fossil fuels via its endowments. To divest, the college would have to reinvest more than half its portfolio. Yet as a professor at the college, McKibben hasn’t stood up to the investment in fossil fuels by his employer. Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz has stated there isn’t enough evidence that the college should divest from fossil fuels. 350.org was founded by environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben, and it takes its name from the claim by the climate change activist scientist James E. Hansen, of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, that 350 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide is the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. Clearly 350.org doesn’t represent very well the agenda they support, and those involved in this organization clearly don’t practice what they preach. They call for an end of fossil fuel usage and they profit and benefit from investments in producers of fossil fuels. And they advocate an energy policy that destroy the economy and lower our standard of living.]]>

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