Bill McKibben is Wrong About the Fossil Fuel Bubble


K.J. Rodgers
Crownsville, Maryland  


Bill McKibben believes the “fossil fuel bubble” is ready to burst and is overvalued; however, he is gambling that he can change the market. 

Investing is really a gambling game. You are placing you’re your money on a bet and a series of strategic steps. If you weigh the odds, and your own instincts, you can stand to win big or lose big.

Betting on a fossil fuel bubbleI tend to stand in the class that believes gambling is a game of skill.  If it were more luck-based, then I would win a hand from time to time; despite being named Kenny Rodgers (poor Gambler reference I know). Investing is a skill-based game as well. Understanding the market, what other players are doing, and a bit of luck, you can win and increase your future investments. When you are on a solid winning streak, and the market is continuously reinforcing your strategy, you tend to stay at the table.

The last 10 years or so, oil and gas have been the American Pharoah in the marketplace. Outperforming expectations and increasing in value, oil and gas have stimulated our economy beyond our expectations through jobs, consumer savings, and our newfound export ventures to other countries.

The marketplace is susceptible to influence when collusion and unfair practices reign unchecked and we are seeing this happening now based on flawed ideology. Recently, Bill McKibben, a founder and radical tyrant who often supports extremists as covered here, wrote an op-ed on in the NY Times on how investment in fossil fuels should come to a halt. Claiming fossil fuels are a bubble ready to pop, he advanced the premise the only truly safe investment was in renewables. McKibbenp, in fact, has been pressuring investors everywhere to pull out of the fossil fuel markets.

The World Bank announced its divestment in oil and gas at a recent Paris conference, claiming to end investment by 2019. It said it would keep a few lines open for poor, developing countries, but the majority of the 1-2% of the bank’s $280 billion portfolio now invested in oil and gas would refocused on climate action. The World Bank and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, hosted the conference, “One Planet Summit.” It’s a symbolic move, in other words, intended to make the haughty Europeans feel good about themselves while punishing the U.S. for withdrawing from the Paris climate accords.

Bill McKibbenMcKibben, however, solidified my hypothesis regarding the undue influence of political ideology on markets when he said:

“Sometimes it takes years of hard work for this kind of activism to pay off. Mr. Kretzmann and his colleagues at Oil Change International have been working on World Bank financing for a decade. Indigenous campaigners in Canada have been attacking the financial roots of the tar sands for at least as long. The nonstop divestment campaigning of recent years has built enormous political pressure for change. And according to one recent study, divestment announcements may have caused at least short-term damage to the share prices of fossil fuel companies.”

These activists have shifted their use-of-force tactics to market manipulation. He even mentions how New York City Public Advocate (taxpayer-financed radical), Letitia James, is calling for the city’s pension fund to divest from oil and gas; not that New York City leadership ever gave a damn about improving the state of that investment.

Invest in Oil and GasRonald Bailey, over at Reason Magazine, nails what the ideologists keep missing: free markets are the votes of consumers about their future. He rightly states that as long as people want to buy oil and gas (or depend on it) companies will invest in that future. A bright future it has, too, as he states (emphasis added):

“In 2015, fossil fuels accounted for 83 percent of all energy consumed. Oil made up 33 percent of that total, natural gas 23 percent, and coal 27 percent. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that fossil fuels will still account for 77 percent of global primary energy consumption in 2040. By then the agency expects humanity to consume 28 percent more energy than we do today. As a result, the EIA projects that global oil consumption will increase by 15 percent and natural gas by 41 percent, while coal consumption will essentially remain flat.”

The market should remain free and without undue influence by Rockefeller family special interests and political hacks such as McKibben. This is the entire reason renewables are improving so slowly. They’ve made gains  and prices are slowly dropping, but they’re not sustainable gains because we’re subsidizing them at rates that could never be supported if everyone went solar, for instance. We have to remind ourselves that forcing a market isn’t going to improve investment in solar panels or make them ultimately competitive. What McKibbon and his cronies are doing is making a heavy short sale bet; very Martin Shkreli-like.

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6 thoughts on “Bill McKibben is Wrong About the Fossil Fuel Bubble

  1. If folks took a few moments and noted the actual numbers and operational conditions within which virtually all wind farms exist, people would be aghast.
    Enormously inefficient and expensive.

    Industries from all over the world – Europe, Asia, Australia – are looking to relocate to the US as expectations of 12 cents/kilowatt hour or less electric costs are extremely enticing.
    The combination of ultra efficient Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plants with the lowest cost fuel on the planet ensures abundant, reliable, cheap electricity for decades to come.

    There is a reason that a tiny island in the middle of the north Atlantic is a world leader in producing aluminum.
    Although Iceland imports 100% of the raw feedstock – bauxite – its natural hydrothermal bounty allows for extremely low production cost in this power- hungry process.

    So too, the vast amounts of ethane and propane in the Appalachian Basin will provide the feedstock that the methane- fueled power plants can manufacture a wide array of goods.

    THAT is what terrifies the Europeans as they have foolishly embarked upon a job killing, de-industrialization path in the absurd embrace of Ra and Zephyr.

  2. What has been missing from the renewables equation is that fact that this planet’s biology evolved based on the amount of sun which falls upon it. What happens when 7 billion people divert the sun from falling on fields and forests by intercepting it with ground smothering acres of solar panels and city concrete? If in fact the sun drives the biosphere, then would diverting the sun from feeding the biosphere damage the biosphere? Do billions of solar panels (yes there will be billions) by their increased reflectivity over forests and fields, increase global warming by directly warming the atmosphere?
    If selectively logging trees in the American Northwest can be halted to save an obscure owl, then why can we clear cut great swathes of New York State forests to erect Wall Street solar industrial farms to assuage the guilt of New York City residents for the damage they have done to New York Harbor. If a single 75 foot wide pipeline easement can be labelled forest fragmentation, then why is clear cutting 100 acre swathes of NYS forests all around the state not considered forest fragmentation. If clear cutting for logging creates erosion problems, then why does clear cutting for a solar industrial site not. Clear cutting is clear cutting is clear cutting. (With apologies to Gertrude Stein)
    Moreover, Methane is a natural constituent of the Solar System. Witness the Methane Planets. And witness the natural methane deep within the Earth and the methane generated in the swamps and marshes of the planet. The very wetlands which we strive so hard to protect are great methane producers. It could be said that the marshes and wetlands which Ducks Unlimited have restored are man-made and ought to be destroyed to save us from global warming, no less than the man-made rice paddies which produce 1/3 of the methane generated by human activity. But that would upset China, the largest Communist government and largest tyranny in the world.
    The reason that McKibbon is an intellectual fraud is that a true ecologist embraces an interdiscplinary approach to natural resource development and human population pressures on the planet. Mckibbon fails to consider the impacts of rice paddies, beef production, the loss of forests in Indonesia and the Amazon, and population demands for consumer goods and electricity, etc. If McKibbon is not in favor of population reduction, banning rice paddies, and prohibiting all meat production, restoring tropical forests, then how does he propose stop global warming and preserve the biosphere which he smothers with solar panels. As a one issue activist he has betrayed the very discipline of which he claims to be a part. An environmentalist who denies the need for a complete interdisciplinary approach is an Environmentalist In Name Only – an Eino, Pronounced ” I know” (it all).
    Lastly, if upstate land should be preserved as forever wild then why did the new NYS constitutional amendment allow 3 phase power lines to now run above ground through the Forest Preserve so that private inholdings could be leased to Wall Street Solar but deny underground gas pipelines from running in the same corridor?
    Just some thoughts.

    • +1 Well said! I mentioned a similar thought in a response to Vera in a past article. I for one, do not understand the mind set of those people who state that clear cutting a 100ac+ forest to install a solar farm is less impactful that cutting a 50′ ROW through 100ac+ of forest. Additionally, your response touches on issues I don’t believe many others have address/thought about. That is why I believe man’s impact on overall global warming is vastly overstated. As you stated, “this planet’s biology evolved based on the amount of sun which falls upon it,” I would be curious to see the possible ramifications of redirecting all that sunlight into that atmosphere.

  3. You sad little fools. You’ll kill us all. A habitable planetary temperature is worth much more than your stupid investment.

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