Divest from Fossil Fuels – What Can You Do

Fossil: fos·sil (fŏs′əl)n.

1. One, such as a rigid theory, that is outdated or antiquated.
2. A word or morpheme that is used only in certain restricted contexts, as kempt in unkempt, but is otherwise obsolete.
3. Belonging to the past; antiquated.

              Fossil fuels. Why are we still using them? Their very name implies something that should be a thing of the past, yet we are still using this archaic form of energy. I don’t have to list all the things wrong with oil, coal or natural gas. This has been well documented. Nor do I have to sing the glories of the various wonderful alternative energies available to us out there – solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and more. The technology is there. We as a people just have to demand it.
              Which is what the fossil fuel divestment campaign is doing. Yesterday the New York Times had an article about some of the nation’s foundations making a commitment to divest from dirty energy. Collectively these foundations are depriving $1.8billion of investments away from fossil fuels. Just let that sink in a little. That’s a good chunk of money that will be denied to companies that have been a big part of the climate cha
              Of course not all of us are in the position to put the heat on fossil fuel companies in similar ways that that these foundations have. We don’t have investments to deny, we can’t stop buying fuel for our cars (but we can take mass-transit, or buy fuel efficient vehicles!). So I am sure you are asking – what can I do to divest from fossil fuels? You can stand in solidarity with the 17 foundations that are divesting.
              The Schmidt Family Foundation, one of the foundations that is divesting, was co-founded by Google’s executive chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. So if you’re in the market for a new cellphone or laptop – buy a Google product. Love ice cream? Great! Feel free all the ice cream you want – but just make sure it is Ben & Jerry’s who have also made the commitment to divest.

              We are all in this fight for our planet together. We need to stand in solidarity. It might sometimes seem like there can’t be much we can do as one person. Keep in mind that the divestment campaign initially started in South Africa and it helped end apartheid. If we continue to spread the movement we can do the same with climate change. Fossil fuels are a thing of the past. We need to starve the companies out and bring in a new era of clean energy.

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2 thoughts on “Divest from Fossil Fuels – What Can You Do

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about fossil fuel divestment over the past year. I’m skeptical on how effective it may really be–this isn’t predominately a social issue, its a financial and economic issue. $1.8 billion seems like a lot but I’m sure some of those FF companies have that available in cash–at the least. How to you envision this playing out in the short & long term?

    • I definitely agree that it is a financial issue as money makes the world go round. If it were a simple matter of saying “pretty please” and various marches and demonstrations – we would have had this in the bag by now. But of course that has not happened. It’s all about money – and in this country big oil is in our government and big oil (and coal and gas) is running the scene. It’s the same thing with our food system. So it’s a matter of turning the tide. More and more are starting to divest – not just foundations, but schools and cities (check out fossilfree.org for a list). It is not going to happen overnight – but it is going to happen. We need to look at the South African divestment campaign as a model. It started in the 60s, but it didn’t really take off until the 80s. Considering the movement just began here and we already have schools and cities divesting, already have a good buzz, and already have the United Nations talking about divestment, I am inclined to be overall optimistic. We just have to continue making noise.

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