On Wednesday, February 5 protesters from climate group 350 Santa Barbara held up L.E.D. light signs spelling out “NO KXL” behind Oprah Winfrey’s head at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), as seen in above. The social media hashtag #NoKXL, signifying opposition to the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, has become widespread since nearly one year ago when roughly 20,000 Americans converged at the White House to demand that Obama use his executive authority to reject the pipeline. Thousands of Americans have since signed a “pledge of a resistance” if the pipeline is approved, meaning that they resort to civil disobedience if Obama approves of the project. Leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen is quoted as having said the approval of the pipeline would mean “game over” for the climate.
Widespread sharing of the photo of “NO KXL” behind Oprah’s head at the film festival has lead to official 350.org staff calling on Oprah, one of the richest women in the world, to divest her holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Recently over a dozen foundations worth $1.8 billion committed to dumping their fossil fuel company stocks out of moral imperative. Over ten cities have also committed, and hundreds of university campuses are still in campaigning stages of pressuring their educational institutions to divest. According to a recent Oxford study, the fossil fuel divestment movement is the fastest growing divestment movement than any previous of its kind – including tobacco and the South African Apartheid divestment movements.
Many social media activists are now asking Oprah: will you divest?