Morgan Sinclaire is a third-year math major at the University of Washington involved in Divest UW for the past two years.
“If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
This quote by Bill McKibben has become the mantra of the fossil fuel divestment movement, the campaign which has sprouted up on hundreds of college campuses across the country with one simple goal: to get universities to stop investing in the same fossil fuel industry that is accelerating us all towards planetary catastrophe.
Here at the University of Washington in Seattle, Divest UW has gotten one of the biggest victories of the movement so far, with the Board of Regents voting to divest from coal today.
Founded in 2012, back when the fossil fuel divestment movement was just starting to spring up on college campuses, Divest UW has been pushing for this for a long time. We have shown that students here would like to see their school get its money out of dirty energy, with our divestment resolutions passing overwhelmingly in both the undergraduate and graduate student senates, but not until this week was our administration moved.
And that is why today’s victory is all the more significant: it validates all the work our group has put into this over the past three years, and we are proud to see our university recognize the growing power of the student movement to tackle climate change. With its $2.8 billion endowment, the UW is largest public university to divest from this destructive industry.
Divest UW is still concerned with our university’s investments in oil and gas companies, which have also shown an utter disregard for our environment. Here in Seattle, this hits home with Shell’s plans to dock at our Port for the purpose of going to the ends of the Earth to drill for oil.
Climate change is already here, and we cannot turn a blind eye to rising seas, severe droughts, devastating storms and dire food insecurity. All of us, as individuals, institutions and governments, have a choice to make—between letting this crisis worsen catastrophically or taking action to right this wrong. By severing our ties to the coal industry—the worst climate offender out there—the University of Washington has taken a strong, positive stand for a better future.
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Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.