Putting my money where Chevron’s mouth is

Chevron has plastered a series of posters all over the Washington, D.C. metro system as part of an advertising campaign titled, “will-you-join-us?” Join Chevron how? By becoming an employee and helping Chevron produce the petroleum products consumers need? Nope. By buying Chevron stock and becoming a shareholder? No again. By joining the fight against anti-consumer policies like oil drilling bans and carbon cap-and-trade schemes? Not a chance.

Each poster features an earnest-looking adult who vows to consume less energy—or at least think about it. Here are some of the captions: “I will use less energy,” “I will leave the car at home more,” “I will unplug stuff more,” “I will reuse more stuff,” “I will finally get a programmable thermostat,” “I will carpool to work,” “I will consider a hybrid” (how bold!), and (bolder still), “I will take my golf clubs out of the trunk.” 

To join Chevron means repenting of our fuelish ways. It means buying less of Chevron’s products. But if buying less is good, then buying none is better. Doesn’t Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly understand this simple logic?

Maybe Mr. O’Reilly thinks Chevron will earn green brownie points by talking as if oil consumption were an addiction to be broken. But de-legitimizing his company’s product is suicidal, because instead of appeasing those who seek to tax and regulate Big Oil out of existence, disparaging energy use will only reinforce the perception that the oil bashers occupy the moral high ground.

Until and unless Chevron changes its tune and starts explaining why abundant, affordable energy is essential to human flourishing, I will “join” Chevron by boycotting its products. And if enough consumers join the boycott, then maybe, just maybe, Chevron will wise up.