Not long ago a blog reader unsubscribed because he was furious that I would write about investing in oil stocks. (Blog 3/30/15) I wrote back saying that I didn’t think a bet on whether or not a company’s fortunes would rise or fall had much affect on the melting of the polar ice caps, and I still don’t, no more than I believe placing a bet at Hialeah affects horse breeding. There is some remote connection, of course. If a company’s stock increases in value, that company can sell some of its asserts to increase dividends for shareholders, engage in research and development to make oil drilling safer, buy an existing business or, worst case scenario, drill another well. But largely those corporate decisions don’t depend on the price of the stock; they depend corporate profits.
I admit, until the Bush/Gore presidential election and the case of the hanging chads, I’d always been a Republican. Lest we forget, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and so was Dwight Eisenhower, who first warned about the military/industrial complex. Simply put, in my lexicon, commerce and the environment can co-exist, and I’m dismayed when I encounter the uncompromising righteousness of those who equate “corporations” with “evil.”
What, I wonder, would my former reader do if, on a specific day, all the oil spigots in the world were turned off. Would he step forward and take credit for the economic collapse? Chanting “alternative energy” may make the heart swell but reasonable expectations are worth considering. We haven’t enough alternatives to eliminate fossil fuels in the immediate future.
For the record, oil companies are investing in alternative fuel research. They realize oil is a finite resource. They’ve read the science, noted the public’s mood about climate change and they are racing to get ahead of the curve, if only to remain in business. Sometimes public interests and private ones coincide.
In a world too complicated for single mindedness, Michael Kingsley reminds us what happens when a person takes a one-sided view. (“The Axis of Isis.” (Vanity Fair, May 2015, Pgs. 92-95) George W. Bush took a simplistic approach in the Middle East. What he achieved was the unleashing of Iran’s influence in the area, laid the ground work for U. S. fracking to secure our oil supply and paved the way for old tribal hatreds to emerge and morph into Al Qaeda, The Taliban, Isis… (Ibid pg. 95)
To be honest, certainty sometimes scares me.