Do the Math - fossil fuel divestiture gains steam
A month ago I was pleased and proud to be in attendance at the Portland, Maine stop for Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour. His month long series of rallies helped build a campaign that is rapidly gaining attention – to recognize that if we exploit the known reserves of fossil fuels, as fossil fuel companies have every intention of doing as evidenced by inclusion of these reserves as assets in their companies’ balance sheets, it will take us far beyond the limits of CO2 emissions that the planet can absorb. We are already seeing, through extreme weather events – drought in the Midwest, floods in Pakistan and most recently the “superstorm” Sandy that STILL has left dozens if not hundreds of buildings and structures inoperable and vacant in lower Manhattan (to say nothing of the ongoing and severe devastation on the Jersey and Queens shorelines), that continued fossil fuel extraction and use is simply bad news for the planet. His call to action is asking all universities to divest their endowments of fossil fuels. Much like the anti-apartheid divestiture movement of the 70's, this strategy aims at a crucial nexus in the climate change debate - we simply must stop continued investment in these fuels and support climate leadership for the next generation. I was doubly proud that my home-town neighbor - Unity College in Unity, Maine - has declared that it will divest itself of all fossil fuels. Along with Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Unity College is leading the way for all of us to think about what it means to teach sustainability and to practice it. As we seek to move our own endowment towards a more mission-related and sustainable portfolio of investments, we too will monitor our exposure to fossil fuels and track this issue. For more information, see Bill McKibben’s article in Rolling Stone and the latest on this divestiture campaign at the 350.org website.