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Feel-Good Fixes 

Riding your bike is nice and all, but do you think Exxon really cares?

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As I write this, I am winding up a full weekend of Earth Day activities with my family. While I greatly enjoyed these events, the sobering realities remain. I find myself bemused by the fairly ineffective gestures offered by the media for families to "plant trees" or "recycle more" or "bike to work/school for one day out of the year."

April 22, Earth Day, marked the end of the public comment period for the Keystone XL pipeline, a horrible, unnecessary idea that many experts believe will signal game over for the climate. One only has to look to the recent Exxon Tar Sands oil spill in Arkansas for evidence of how dirty and crappy this project is. If you doubt the political power of a fossil fuel company like Exxon, you can read the underreported coverage of the spill—despite the Exxon-enforced media blackout that resulted in Sheriff's deputies threatening to arrest reporters if they did not leave the site.

As most of my friends and family will attest, I am one of the most skeptical, evidence-driven, conservative people they know. But I have been forced, by the preponderance of evidence, to admit that climate destabilization is going to be one of the most serious issues for human civilization. Even the most conservative organizations now realize we are way beyond "feel-good" gestures. Even the most selfish consumer must now admit that we cannot continue with business as usual. Big Oil and Big Coal are the most profitable and least accountable business interests in history. Because of their huge profits, they have lobbying power that rivals any political entity or party.

If we want to make a real difference, we need to hurt the fossil fuel companies where they can actually feel it. The one real gesture you can make is to convince your pension companies, your unions, your portfolio managers and your university board of trustees to divest from fossil fuel companies until they agree to change from a selfish and harmful fossil fuel business into a more ethical energy company. There are plenty of online petitions that would take less time to fill out then it would to plant even the smallest bush.

Steve Salkovics lives in Sebastopol.

Open mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write

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