Letters: College students vs. fossil fuels
Re “For students, fossil fuels become an issue of conscience,” Aug. 26
Congratulations to the students of San Francisco State University who persuaded the trustees of their college to divest from fossil fuel companies. However, this article has an egregious omission: the carbon bubble.
This bubble will likely pop and fossil fuel stocks will crash in the next decade or so if we are to preserve the planet for future generations. According to the climate change activist group 350.org, the planet cannot handle more than 565 gigatons of carbon emissions before 2050. At our current 3% annual increase, we will reach this limit in about 16 years.
The fossil fuel industry has enough reserves to emit 2,795 gigatons. If we want a livable planet, most of these reserves must stay in the ground.
We can either support the fossil fuel industry or the planet. Divesting is the first step to saving the planet.
Those San Francisco State activists who want their school to divest from fossil fuel companies are on to something big. And I must say that “Fossil Free UC” is a nifty slogan.
Unfortunately, they don’t go far enough.
If they want to make an immediate impact, they should refuse to ride to school in buses powered by gasoline. They should demand that the school cafeteria quit cooking with natural gas. They should stop taking lecture notes on iPads brought here from China on diesel-powered container ships. They need to reject all food planted and harvested with gas-fueled tractors.
If possible, they should go to bed at dusk so they don’t need to study under lights powered by anything but hydroelectric dams and geothermal wells drilled into the San Andreas Fault.
Of course it is the ethical responsibility of universities to invest in companies that look out for the best welfare of people.
California general obligation bonds are available for 5% interest right now. As a graduate of UCLA, I’m greatly in favor of immediate fossil fuel divestment by UC and purchasing stable, socially responsible funds like those bonds to help out — in several ways.
G. Colby Allerton
Said Raven Rutledge, a San Francisco State environmental studies major who helped lead her school’s divestment campaign: “I would like to know my school is putting its money in companies that are looking out for the best welfare of people.”
I’d say providing us with things like electricity and gasoline qualifies as “looking out for the best welfare of people.”
Future college students who may wonder why they are not receiving more assistance will have people like Rutledge to thank. These shortsighted activists risk having that money divested from fossil fuel companies reinvested in poorer-performing funds.
These activists need to consider the help future generations of students will require to get the education necessary to succeed in a very competitive global environment.
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