8 Dec 2013, 6:13am
environment Politics

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    Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
  • Year 4, Month 12, Day 8: If You Haven’t Ever Seen It, You Won’t Understand

    The Washington Post is late to the party when it comes to reporting on the divestiture movement:

    A divestment movement is marching across U.S. college campuses, borrowing tactics from the 1980s anti-apartheid campaign and using them against oil, gas and coal companies to fight climate change.

    Students are teaming with investment advisers to convince universities, pension funds and institutional investors that they can take a stand against fossil-fuel companies without hurting their returns.

    “We have a government that has been taken over by the fossil-fuel industry, so we’re going to pressure the fossil-fuel industry itself,” said Chloe Maxmin, a junior leading Divest Harvard. She added that students, spurred by forecasts of dire climate change in “a time frame well within my generation’s lifetime,” have organized divestment groups on about 400 campuses.

    Eight small colleges and nearly two dozen towns and cities have pledged to sell their shares in fossil-fuel firms.

    Yet many academic institutions are rejecting the divestment argument, including Harvard and Middlebury College, home to climate activist and professor Bill McKibben. They say that divesting shares of fossil-fuel companies would politicize universities and have little to no impact on the companies, or on society’s reliance on fossil fuels.

    I never get tired of revamping this letter. It’s a welcome break from paraphrasing bad news. November 26:

    Youthful voices have always expressed our nation’s better angels. In the sixties, students spoke out and stood up against war and racism; two decades hence, they highlighted the urgency of divestiture from the apartheid government of South Africa. Now, it’s become increasingly clear that there is another, differently constituted, regime from which we as a society are morally obligated to withdraw support.

    Those multinational corporations reaping unimaginable profits from the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels are making catastrophic climate change inevitable, destroying the future in which today’s children will live, work, and raise families of their own. It’s no wonder that young people are speaking out in steadily increasing numbers against the environmental injustices perpetrated by short-sighted “corporate persons.”

    Young people realize that “business as usual” is a prescription for planetary disaster. Their actions embody moral authority and a wisdom the rest of us would do well to emulate.

    Warren Senders

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