This is such transparent foolishness that I want to think the Rockefellers have to be following a crafty plan designed to fool people. But it is hard to be certain. People deceive themselves and make stupid decisions all the time.
Here’s how the New York Times begins their version of the story:
John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels.
The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.
The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative.
In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments — as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that consults with philanthropists and investors to use their resources to achieve social goals.
The people who are selling shares of energy stocks are well aware that their actions are unlikely to have an immediate impact on the companies, given their enormous market capitalizations and cash flow.
One of the major ways in which oil companies have pursued profits at public expense is to lobby the government to limit the amount of oil that can be pumped out of the ground every year. Typically, this can be done in the name of environmental protection but it makes energy more expensive and thus aids the established oil companies against the rise of new competition.
Global warming policy is treated as the enemy of oil companies, but that is not necessarily so. Environmental laws might actually boost profits. Attacking coal plants, for example, could boost demand for oil.
Furthermore, how much verification do we have for the Rockefeller’s claims about what they are doing with their portfolios? How do we know they are not dumping Russian and Saudi stock in order to purchase new hot stocks in the American Natural Gas industry?
If the Rockefeller’s are sincere then they have chosen a path of economic suicide. They will let go of profitable resources and give control of those resources to other people who don’t share their insane delusions about how the world works. That is good news for the human race who would probably be better off if other people were given control of those resources.
But if the United Nations actually does manage to clamp down on the use of so-called “fossil fuels” then we will all be worse off, especially poor people in poor countries. My hunch is that the fossil fuel profits will go up, not down, and we will eventually discover that the Rockefellers had kept some reserves that have increased in value due to U. N. policy.