Coming June 18: Twitter Storm to #EndFossilFuelSubsidies

Next Monday, tell Twitter what you think about polluter welfare.

oil derrick at sunrise
(Photo: David Mdzinarishvilli/Reuters)
Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Set your alarm clocks, tweeps.

On June 18, environmental campaigners will coalesce for a 24-hour “Twitter storm” demanding that world leaders use Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to give politicians this simple message: end their amorous love affair with big oil.

Bill McKibben’s 350.org has more on the nitty-gritty of this brewing tempest:

The 24-hour clock will start at 6 PM UTC in Sydney, when activists will begin to flock to Twitter with messages that will also be projected in iconic spots in Sydney, New Delhi, London, Rio, and other locales. In recent weeks, campaigning groups have collected over 1 million signatures demanding that leaders act now to end subsidies and start to invest in clean energy solutions.

With the NBA Finals starting tonight, perhaps it is best to explain big oil subsidies with a hoops analogy.

Take LeBron James.

Say what you will about the existence of his clutch gene, but the man was blessed at birth with Michael Jordan’s velociraptor athleticism neatly tucked inside Karl Malone’s Sherman tank of a body. There has literally never been another NBA player with combined strength and speed.

Now imagine the NBA telling all the other teams and players that LeBron’s cheetah speed and battering-ram brutishness wasn’t enough for him to succeed, that he needed even more of a competitive advantage.

That every game he’d get to wear special NASA-designed space shoes that allowed him to jump a foot higher. That every time he drove to the basket, the hoop would know it and self-adjust down to eight feet instead of the usual ten. That he’d never get hurt, never pull a hammy, or roll an ankle. That his free throws counted for four points and his three-pointers counted for ten. That…you get the idea.

Would any other team ever defeat LeBig Oil and the Miami Smog?

Except this little analogy isn’t wholly accurate; it’s missing its sad (but reversible) ending. Imagine if LeFracking’s game was a cancer on the rest of the league. Not a metaphorical cancer, but a living, breathing, metastasizing actual plague that, in no particular order, cranked up the temperature in each and every one of the league’s 30 arenas so that no more games could be played because the hardwood courts wilted. That with every LeCoal breakaway dunk, a concession-stand ice cream cone would melt and die in the hands of a casual fan. That for every LeHaze cross-over dribble, one drinking fountain at every arena would go permanently dry. That...you get the idea.

Subsidies for big oil aren’t just unfair competitive advantages; they’re unfair competitive advantages that directly contribute to the death of the league and its fans.

The five big oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell—earned a combined $33.5 billion during the first quarter of 2012. That’s $368 million per day, folks. 

Imagine what ecological good could be done if the estimated $2 billion a year in tax breaks and subsidies deliverd to the Big 5’s doorstep by Uncle Sam was instead put to good, green use?

The International Energy Agency estimates that by cutting these subsidies, the world can cut global-warming-causing emissions in half and significantly contribute to preventing a two-degree temperature rise, the number most scientists say we need to stay under to prevent runaway climate change.

If you can’t wait for next Monday, if you’re jonesing to take action right now, sign this petition: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies. Either way, we’ll see you and your wittiest 140 anti-fossil-fuel characters on June 18.

Should oil companies recieve tax breaks and subsidies?

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