MIT Students: We're Sitting-In at President Reif's Door Until He Divests From Fossil Fuels
Today at 6.30 a.m., a dozen students began a sit-in at the doorstep of their president’s office in opposition to MIT’s announced decision yesterday to “not divest [its $13.5 billion endowment] from the fossil fuel industry,” including climate denying corporations, and instead “bring them closer.” It is the first time in a quarter century that MIT has seen such unrest.
MIT’s divestment campaigners are particularly furious that their president has chosen not to sell stocks from coal and tar sands companies, an action backed 9-to-3 by the president’s own advisory committee in June.
“Divestment from coal and tar sands is a no-brainer, and would have unified rather than ostracized MIT’s community” commented Geoffrey Supran, an MIT PhD student sitting-in, and a member of President Reif’s climate advisory committee and of the student group advocating divestment, Fossil Free MIT. “With $2.6 trillion of precedent—including at Stanford, Oxford, and UC—divestment from coal and tar sands is financially prudent, scientifically consistent, morally right, and politically effective.”
President Reif’s decision to also not address climate science disinformation is another reason why many are protesting. Just this week, congressmen such as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have called for a federal investigation of ExxonMobil’s decades of climate lies. Meanwhile, MIT’s plan “deplores” climate science disinformation, yet proposes nothing to deal with it, entirely ignoring the unanimous recommendation of the president’s committee for an Ethics Advisory Council to “explicitly combat disinformation and avoid inadvertently supporting disinformation through investments.” In fact, the plan argues that MIT ought to strengthen its relationship of “great respect”, “candor and collaboration” with fossil fuel companies (even including coal companies), described as “the same” as that between MIT’s administrators and its students.
“We’re sitting-in because MIT has put money before morals and its students’ futures, choosing to side with Big Oil and the Kochs instead of the thousands of students, staff, faculty, and alumni—not to mention our president’s own committee—calling for divestment,” added Supran.
President Reif’s decision comes during a $5.5 billion capital campaign—the largest in the Institute’s history. MIT receives more industry funding than almost any other university in the country, its research sponsors including ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Eni, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil, Total, and the American Petroleum Institute and its 600-plus members. Climate disinformation bankroller David Koch has given MIT $185 million and is a Life Member of MIT’s Board of Trustees. Last November, MIT signed a five-year $25 million deal with ExxonMobil, which has in recent days cited its affiliation with MIT in an effort to greenwash its history of denialist campaigns.
We're sitting-in @MIT President's door until he divests from fossil fuels. Here's why: https://t.co/capPzi8ZwJ #DivestMIT #ScientistsSitIn— Geoffrey Supran (@Geoffrey Supran)1445519988.0
Jeremy Poindexter, an MIT PhD student working on solar cells explained why he is among those camped outside President Reif’s office:
“We won’t stand idly by while divestment gets tossed aside despite support from thousands of MIT community members. It’s ironic that in a climate action plan inspired entirely by divestment, our administration claims that engagement with the fossil fuel industry is a better action. In reality, divestment has a proven theory of change toward limiting warming to 2 degrees C. What’s President Reif’s? What have MIT’s decades of inside-access to fossil fuel interests gotten us? The answer is an industry that has lied about climate science, pours hundreds of millions of dollars every year into lobbying against renewables, and spends hundreds of billions of dollars pursuing a business model scientifically incompatible with holding back catastrophic climate change. And yet MIT has decided to continue investing more than half-a-billion dollars in this industry undermining our own work.”
On the action plan’s other proposals, Supran commented, “This plan is business-as-usual repackaged. It’s a campus emissions target consistent with an unacceptable 3.5 degrees of global warming. It’s MIT’s ordinary fundraising for energy research, wrapped up in a “$300 million” soundbite. It’s too little, too late.”
MIT’s divestment decision, part of its Plan for Action on Climate Change, flies in the face of more than 3,500 petition signatures from MIT community members, the recommendations of the MIT president’s own committee to divest from coal, tar sands, and climate denying corporations, a resolution from Cambridge City Council, and separate open letters from MIT student groups, faculty, alumni, and 33 prominent climate scientists and advocates, among them James Hansen, the President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Noam Chomsky and Mark Ruffalo.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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