Friday, June 07, 2013

"Do The Math" Movie Review

In the short documentary Do The Math, Bill McKibben looks at what the problem is - and gives a possible solution. It's based on 3 simple numbers.

2°C - All nations agree that's the most warming the earth can handle.
565 - The gigatonnes of carbon that would cause 2°C of warming.
2,765 - The gigatonnes of carbon that companies intend to burn.

It's easy to see why Bill McKibben says "These companies are outlaws. Not against the laws of the state ... but the laws of physics. If they carry out their business plan, the planet tanks."

As if this weren't bad enough, Exxon alone is spending $100 million a day looking for more carbon to burn. Clearly this is the first thing that should stop. "When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging".
"We're no longer at the point of trying to stop global warming. Too late for that. We're at the point of trying to keep it from becoming a complete and utter calamity."

While this movie is about 3 simple numbers, a bunch of other numbers also grabbed my attention:

$137 billion - one year of profit for the top 5 oil companies
$375 million - daily profit of the top 5 oil companies
$6.6 million/day in federal tax breaks
$440,000/day lobbying the US congress
$100,000 - daily salary of the Exxon CEO

It's easy to see what would motivate these companies to do what they're doing, despite the consequences for humanity.

So what's the solution? If fossil fuel companies only care about money, then that's the tool for change. One option is 'divestment' - pulling out of investments in fossil fuels and asking organisations to do likewise. "Take that money away from the problem makers - give it to the problem solvers".

"There is nothing radical about what we're talking about. All we are asking for is a planet that works the way it did when we were born."

Even though this may also have the financial benefit of avoiding the carbon bubble, the movie focussed mainly on the ethical and moral motivation. As Bill McKibben is fond of saying "If it's wrong to wreck the climate, it's wrong to profit from that wreckage".

"..the epic struggle of this century, and we're going to meet it. If we don't, we won't have a 22nd century."

Here's the full movie:

From an Australian perspective, it was also interesting to see America realising that pricing carbon would make a lot of sense. Ordinary citizens can't just litter. Small businesses have to pay to have their garbage removed. It just makes sense that fossil fuel companies should pay for the pollution they create.
"Nobody should be allowed pollute for free. If you get a $25 fine for littering, you'll pay more than all of the fossil fuel companies have ever paid for 150 years."

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