Tell Colleges to Join the Divestment Movement for Clean Energy

  • by: Susan V
  • target: Major US Universities
Update: Unity College and Hampshire College students have convinced these schools to divest.

It’s down to a final face-off between us and fossil fuels.

In an article in Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben says the math shows the earth can’t take more than a 2-degree temperature rise by 2050, and there’s five times the oil and coal in the ground right now to put us beyond that if burned. But the industry stands to lose over $20 trillion if it stays put.

A carbon tax would reduce those profits by causing prices to rise once the fossil-fuel industry has to pay for the damage it's doing. It would also help level the playing field for renewable energy.

But McKibben believes severing the ties with fossil fuels may require the kind of moral outrage that put an end to apartheid - the divestment movement that arose on college campuses in the 1980s.

So the challenge now goes out to college students to unite in a way that will make the opposition to apartheid look like a picnic. Tell them to demand their colleges dump stock in companies that are destroying the planet.

We, the undersigned, support McKibben’s plan for colleges to lead the way in severing ties with companies that are working to destroy or planet.

We hope you will read McKibben’s complete article in Rolling Stone to get the full impact of the urgency of this request.

As his article explains, the science shows that Earth’s temperature has already been increased by 0.8 degrees, and “even if we stopped increasing CO2 now, the temperature would likely still rise another 0.8 degrees, as previously released carbon continues to overheat the atmosphere. That means we're already three-quarters of the way to the two-degree target.”

While it’s understandable that the fossil-fuel industry would want to fight a carbon tax, it must also be noted that it has made unprecedented profits throughout its history because it hasn't had to pay to clean up its mess and the harm it's caused, as other industries have done.

Furthermore, the fossil fuel industry’s power and wealth stifles the ability of citizens to effectively demand carbon controls. Says McKibbens: “The Koch brothers, for instance, have a combined wealth of $50 billion,” most of which was made in hydrocarbons, and “they know any system to regulate carbon would cut those profits, and they reportedly plan to lavish as much as $200 million on this year's elections.” They and others investing in fossil fuels give millions to support GOP candidates who deny the existence of global warming.

Like McKibbens, we hope colleges will comply with this plan to help remove industry roadblocks that hold us back from developing renewable energy and accelerate the destruction of the planet. We request that you join this divestment movement, and we hope, for all our sakes, it is not too late.

Thank you for your time. 

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