A fantastic letter in today's edition of Syracuse University's Daily Orange by Associate Professor of Political Science Sarah Pralle details why she is leading a faculty group in support of student organizing pushing the university to divest its endowments from fossil fuel companies.
Last semester, Syracuse University students joined a nationwide movement to pressure colleges and universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies. I’d like to encourage faculty members, and members of the administration, to get behind this campaign.
We do not need to look far to see the devastating effects of global warming. Many of our students and their families were in the path of Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that caused more than 100 deaths, left thousands homeless and will carry a price tag of more than $50 billion. In our warming world, we can expect many Hurricane Sandys, as well as widespread droughts like those afflicting much of the United States last year. The droughts, affecting more than 60 percent of the country, caused record-high prices for agricultural staples such as corn and soybean. While many Americans can weather these price spikes, most of the world’s poor cannot.
When Bill McKibben visited campus last semester, he presented the terrifying math of climate change. Fossil fuel companies have in their reserves the equivalent of 2,795 gigatons of carbon, five times what is “safe” to burn. To protect the natural systems we rely on, and ensure a habitable planet for our students and their children, we must find a way to keep 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
You don’t need to be a cynic to conclude fossil fuel companies will burn every last atom of carbon if given the chance. They’ve poured millions of dollars into campaigns that question the existence of global warming and millions more to ensure Congress does not act in a meaningful way on climate change. It is time to send them a clear message that they are acting irresponsibly and immorally.
Syracuse University can send this message by divesting from fossil fuels. We are already a signatory to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, and have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040. Yet we profit from fossil fuel companies through our investments. This is hypocritical at best and immoral at worst. Let’s take the money we are currently investing in fossil fuels and reinvest it in clean energy technologies.
A group of faculty is organizing to support the SU Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign. If you are interested in joining us, please contact me at email@example.com.