The "end of coal" is no longer an activist pipe dream. It's a reality that's gaining growing acceptance from High Street to Wall Street as investors divest billions of dollars from this dirtiest of fossil fuels.
The first stage in planting doubt is to deny the evidence. When the evidence can no longer be denied, the second stage kicks in with its disingenuous claim: "The science isn't settled." This most cynical trick of disinformers exploits a germ of truth that strikes at the heart of all science.
The vision of a cleaner, more sustainable future is a powerful force. Fossil fuel companies spent heavily in the 2012 elections. Despite that massive investment, Americans swept clean energy and environmental champions into office around the nation.
If the world burned all of its fossil fuel reserves, would the world as we know it be the same? The International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other reputable groups say that the answer is no. It would tip us into a climate catastrophe.
Europe is the next front in the growing movement. Home to some of the largest stock exchanges and corporations in the world, making progress in Europe will be key if the divestment effort wants to pose a serious threat to the fossil fuel industry.
The fossil fuel lobby aggressively uses propaganda to block public health protections, manipulate the energy debate, defend their massive government handouts and attack clean energy sources that threaten to displace them.
Fossil fuels seem cheap and convenient now, but when we get hit with the true costs -- of a spoiled environment, of missing out on vital future industries like clean energy, of a mounting public health burden, of possible war -- we'll see we were had.