Year 3, Month 12, Day 13: Get Up, Stand Up / Stand Up For Your Rights

Bill McKibben and have been pushing hard for divestiture from fossil fuels – and taking aim at college endowments as an easy and significant target. The New York Times:

SWARTHMORE, Pa. — A group of Swarthmore College students is asking the school administration to take a seemingly simple step to combat pollution and climate change: sell off the endowment’s holdings in large fossil fuel companies. For months, they have been getting a simple answer: no.

As they consider how to ratchet up their campaign, the students suddenly find themselves at the vanguard of a national movement.

In recent weeks, college students on dozens of campuses have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil and gas stocks. The students see it as a tactic that could force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back onto the national political agenda.

“We’ve reached this point of intense urgency that we need to act on climate change now, but the situation is bleaker than it’s ever been from a political perspective,” said William Lawrence, a Swarthmore senior from East Lansing, Mich.

It’s a very unequal struggle. But the alternative is giving up. Nope. Can’t do that. Sent December 5:

Throughout the course of’s “Do The Math” tour, founder Bill McKibben over and over compared the movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry with the mid-80’s campaign to end financial ties with firms doing business in apartheid South Africa. These earlier actions were driven by college students possessed by the moral urgency to end the injustices perpetrated by institutionalized racism. Modern climate activists are equally motivated by their keen awareness of injustice — today perpetrated not by governments, but by a set of unimaginably powerful and irresponsible economic actors. The similarities are profound. But there is one important set of differences.

In the 1980s, the victims of apartheid lived in one state, on one continent — and at one memorable point in time. Climate chaos, by contrast, will disrupt lives everywhere on Earth for generations to come — a fact which dramatically reinforces the ethical imperative of divestiture.

Warren Senders

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