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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

We should have done it yesterday

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Climate Change is not a crisis that is yet to come; it is already here, and gets worse day by day. It is well established among climate scientists that, unless sudden and drastic action is taken, the Earth and its climate will face a disaster unprecedented in human history. And you do not have to be a climate scientist to imagine the impact that rising sea levels, extreme and unpredictable weather, and rising temperatures can have.

So, something has got to be done. But, while the politicians of this and other countries dither and cave to pressure from industry, hoping that like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the coming catastrophe might be avoided by refusing to speak of it, we continue to pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Despite the best attempts at obfuscation by fossil fuel companies and their paid deputies in Congress, the arithmetic remains very simple. If we are to keep climate change to manageable proportions, the United States and Europe, where the bulk of the responsibility for climate change lies, must cut their emissions by more than 80% over the next couple of decades (IPCC 2009). 60% the world’s emissions come from fossil fuel use (IPCC 2007). The conclusion is inescapable; if we are to avert disaster on a global scale, we need to make massive reductions on our fossil fuel use. Or to put it another way, the vast fuel reserves that fossil fuel companies are holding cannot be burned.

By holding on to our fossil fuel investments, we are staking a portion of our endowment on the fossil fuel industry continuing to return profits at historical rates, a situation that is mutually exclusive with minimizing climate change. The only way the fossil fuel industry in its current form has a future is if we stop caring that the Pacific Islands will be submerged, if we quit worrying about the millions that will starve and the tens of millions that will be displaced. There really is no debate here. We should divest. We should have done it yesterday. And divestment is only the first step; there are a lot of changes that need to be made before our economy and our lifestyle stop being destructive to the planet we live on.

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