POP! The Fossil Fuel Investment Bubble

[This street theater skit was performed in “Portland’s Living Room,” Pioneer Square, on April 24 as part of The Spring Rebellion actions organized by Extinction Rebellion groups on the West Coast.]

MC: Thank you for joining us today at our bubble theater. We have a lively show for you and we encourage you to interact with us, especially when Mr. Big Banks says something awful.

Mr. Big Banks: It’s great that you are here to support us banks.  We’d love to have you all as customers!  Fossil fuels are a great investment; capitalism rules! 

Audience:  Boooooo!

MC: Great job, audience — keep up that energy! Now, let me be perfectly clear. We are not here to support banks. We are here to tell the big banks, like Chase and Wells Fargo and let’s not forget Bank of America over on 5th Avenue, to stop funding fossil fuel projects!! We demand the banks stop making risky investments with our savings because the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is creating an unstable bubble, and it’s gonna POP!

Chorus: Stop, stop! Bubble trouble! Don’t pop!

Mr. Big Banks: Oh, don’t be a doomsayer! The fossil fuel economy will be expanding — and making money — for a long time. Don’t get hysterical.

Audience:  Boooo! 

Mr. Big Banks: Besides, bubbles are fun. They are lighter than air. They lift our spirits and make us feel young again. Don’t you agree?

MC: No, I do not agree. Mr. Big Banks would like us to focus on the positive, but bubbles also have a dark side, especially when they POP! Remember, the real estate bubble? It popped and POOF! Many, many people lost their homes and their savings. Lives were devastated. Especially the lives of people of color, indigenous people,  and those with fewer resources. But the rich people, like you, Mr. Big Banks?  They bought up the foreclosed homes and got richer.

Chorus: Stop, stop! Bubble trouble! Don’t pop!

Mr. Big Banks: Don’t be silly, you know as well as I do that real estate is completely different than petroleum. We’re talking liquid gold! Bubbling crude! Nothing to worry about.

Audience:  Booooo!

MC: Nothing to worry about?! You are wrong, Mr. Big Banks. The fossil fuel economy is going to collapse. Already, renewable electricity has outpaced electricity generated from coal. 

Smart investors have divested TRILLIONS from fossil fuels. But some greedy bankers like those at Chase and Wells Fargo want to get every last penny of profit from fossil fuels. The economy and the environment be damned.

Chorus: Stop, stop! Bubble trouble! Don’t pop!

Mr. Big Banks: Wait just a minute, you ignorant people.  Don’t forget how your lives have benefited from us big banks. We give you mortgages. We pay you interest on your savings. We’re fueling the economy by creatiing great jobs. You greenies, you divestment lovers, you need to stop being so gloomy and get off the streets.

Audience:  Booooo!

MC: Green energy jobs would be a lot better for the world, Mr. Big Banks. Besides, when the fossil fuel bubble pops, who will suffer? Young people, families, people of color, disabled people and all the rest of us common folk. The rich will skate right through it. As we saw with the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the government protects big finance.

Chorus: Stop, stop! Bubble trouble! Don’t pop!

Mr. Big Banks: Big banks are too big to fail; for the sake of keeping us solvent sometimes we have to sacrifice a few workers to keep the capitalist machine humming along. Oops, did I just say that out loud?

Audience:  Boooo!

Oil person: Hey I’m ConocoPhillips. We need a big loan for the Willow Project in Alaska. Can we have 1 billion bucks?

Mr. Big Banks: Are you sure $1 billion will be enough?  We’ve got lots of money to loan you. How about $3 billion? That should get your oil flowing.  [hands Oil person some large size play money]

Audience:  Boooo!

Mr. Big Banks: You can trust me, there is no bubble and it is NOT gonna pop!

MC: Oh yeah? than what’s this? [Person walks over with giant balloon]

Mr. Big Banks: Looks beautiful to me.  An expanding economy. Good for all. Normal market growth.

MC: This balloon represents the dangerous, volatile, fossil fuel economy. The bubble is gonna burst!

Mr. Big Banks: Nay sayers, all of you! We want happy investors who will get rich and make us richer. Bigger is better!

MC: Perpetual growth is expanding the bubble. It’s gonna pop!

Mr. Big Banks: It’s not going to pop. You don’t understand basic capitalism.


Chorus: Stop, stop, don’t let it pop! 


[PERSON pops balloon; audience members make their balloons squeal.]

MC: You just heard the sound of the fossil fuel economy screeching to a halt. We can’t let that happen; it will be devastating for too many people! We have distributed fliers with phone numbers and email addresses for the big banks. Contact them and tell them to end their investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. Make calls, today, tomorrow and every day. It is great to contact them repeatedly. Let’s build the green economy and protect everyone, not just the obscenely rich.   

[the end]

Action information handed out after the street theater:

What can you do?

• Withdraw your money from the Big Banks (Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, Bank of America, and Citibank) and deposit elsewhere. A credit union is a good choice.

• Cut up your credit cards from those banks.

• Use the contact info below to connect with the banks and tell them what you’ve done and why. (Or if you do not bank with them, tell them you will not bank with them as long as they continue to  fund fossil fuel projects.)


Jamie Dimon, jamie.dimon@jpmchase.com, 212-270-1111

Daniel Pinto, daniel.pinto@jpmorgan.com, 212-834-4020


Jane Fraser, jane.fraser@citi.com

Anand Selvakesari, anand.selva@citi.com

Wells Fargo

Mark Elliott, mark.w.elliott@wellsfargo.com

Mary Mack, mary.mack@wellsfargo.com

Bank of America

Brian Moynihan, brian.t.moynihan@bofa.com, 

(646) 855-5555

Andrew Plepler, andrew.plepler@bofa.com 

[Photo credit: Claire Stock]

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