Saturday, April 25, 2015

Climate divestment applies the smack-down theory of political change

The offensively-named but useful "bitch slap" theory of politics helps explain demonstrations of political strength that may make it possible to change policies. I'm going to call it the smack-down theory instead, and it applies to climate divestment.

When Stanford announced it was divesting from coal, it was saying it's unafraid of what coal businesses are going to do in response. Contrast that to how American public television tried to placate the Koch brothers and kept the critical documentary "Citizen Koch" off of PBS. An institution that divests is unlikely to give in to similar intimidation, partly because they won't be receiving donations from the polluters. What Stanford is saying is that as far as coal goes, it's willing to take that hit. To the extent other institutions do the same, they're showing that the coal lobby can be beat.

Time to do the same for the other fossil fuels.