Blog Archive

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Livestreaming Peoples Climate March! Announcing PeoplesClimate.tv: March Livestream and People's Videos

I'm excited to announce that I will providing livestreamed, on-the-ground coverage of the People's Climate March this Sunday and at follow-up actions in the days ahead at PeoplesClimate.tv.
The world needs a wake-up call. Climate change, and the destructive economy that propels it, must finally be taken seriously.
The People's Climate March hits New York City and hundreds of locations across the globe in less than 48 hours. Activists and organizers have labored for months to make this -- not just the biggest climate march in history -- but the wake-up call the world's been waiting for.
All sorts of amazing creative activism is in store, all with the singular goal of saving the world. The Act.tv team, the people behind PeoplesClimate.tv, are collecting the best #PeoplesClimate videos making it easy to find, share and amplify the most powerful messages.
PeoplesClimate.tv is the place to find it all: the craziest moments, the most powerful scenes, and the most inspiring calls to action.
And you're invited to contribute! Whether you're attending the march in person, or just in spirit, a few clicks is all it takes to add your video, and your voice, to the call for change.
We've had wake up calls before -- Hurricane Sandy woke up most of New York -- but our so-called leaders keep hitting the snooze button. We need a wake up call so powerful that leaders are forced to act; paradigms are forced to shift; and there's just no going back to sleep. 

Join me for livestream coverage starting Sunday morning and wake up the world at PeoplesClimate.tv. I'll also be tweeting from @climatebrad -- if you're in NYC, let's meet!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/19/1331034/-PeoplesClimate-tv-March-Livestream-and-People-s-Videos#

Friday, September 19, 2014

Joe Romm: NOAA: With Hottest August On Record, 2014 Takes Aim At Hottest Year On Record

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, September 18, 2014
Last month was the warmest August since records began being kept in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday. NOAA also projected out scenarios for the rest of the year making clear that 2014 is going to be one of the very hottest years on record — and possibly the hottest.
temperature percentiles
Land and sea surface temperature percentiles in August 2014. Hot spots in red.
As the map shows, the oceans were particularly warm. In fact, ocean warming blew more than one record out of the water:
The August global sea surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.4°F). This record high departure from average not only beats the previous August record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F), but also beats the previous all-time record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F).
No millennial has experienced a below average temperature August, since, as NOAA notes, the last one occurred in 1976!
NOAA also reports that 2014 year-to-date temperatures currently rank as the third warmest on record:
Horserace2014
But NOAA adds that of the years depicted in that chart, “The years 2013 and 2014 are the only years on this list not to begin during a mature El Niño event. The years 1998 and 2010, each of which became the warmest year on record at the time, ended the year in a strong La Niña event, as evidenced by the relative fading of global average temperature later in the year.”
But 2014 not only isn’t headed towards a La Niña, it may well end up with a modest El Niño. In any case, temperatures are not likely to fade as they did at the end of 1998 and 2010. That gives 2014 a chance at moving up to ultimately ending higher than the third warmest year on record.
Indeed, NOAA plots out several scenarios in the chart below whereby 2014 could become the hottest year on record (click to enlarge):
2014-scenarios

Stay tuned. Mother nature is just getting warmed up — thanks to human activity.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/18/3569158/noaa-hottest-august-on-record/jj

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peter Sinclair: Jason Box, "We're f'd"

by Peter Sinclair, Climate Crocks, September 16, 2014


Above – reposting, first Greenland 2014 piece from last week.

After unpacking a few clean clothes, grabbing long showers, and sharing a few moderate adult beverages, Jason Box and I eased back into the media sphere, after almost 2 weeks on the Greenland sheet. Robin Williams was dead. That hit us both at the same time. I checked email. Jason checked twitter. And took on a startled look.

An unusually blunt statement from usually soft spoken Box had gone viral. [In my experience, when scientists start swearing, they are really feeling the import of what is going on.]

Brian Merchant had a piece on Motherboard, here’s part of it:
This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw “vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,” as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists. 
But it was even more unnerving to Dr. Jason Box, a widely published climatologist who had been following the expedition. As I was digging into the new development, I stumbled upon his tweet, which, coming from a scientist, was downright chilling:
effed
Box, who is currently a professor of glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, has been studying the Arctic for decades. His accolade-packed Wikipedia page notes that he’s made some 20 expeditions to the Arctic since 1994, and served as the lead author on the Greenland section of NOAA’s State of the Climate report from 2008-2012. He also runs the Dark Snow project and writes about the latest findings in the field at his blog, Meltfactor. 
In other words, Box knows the Arctic, and he knows climate change—and the methane plumes had him blitzed enough to bring out the F bombs. 

Now, the scientists in the Arctic didn’t fully understand why the plumes were occurring. But they speculated that a warmer “tongue” of ocean current was destabilizing methane hydrates on the Arctic slope. 
I called the scientist at his office in Copenhagen, and he talked frankly and emphatically about the new threat, and about the specter of climate change in general. He also swore like a sailor, which I’ve often wondered how climatologists refrain from doing, given the urgency of the problem—it’s certainly an entirely accurate way to communicate the climate plight. 
Salon had a piece. Jason’s twitter feed had more than tripled. His interview with Bill Maher was online.

Jason’s wife called. A Hungarian acquaintance had told her that Jason was front page news in Budapest.

The ice in Greenland this year isn’t just a little dark—it’s record-setting dark. Box says he’s never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign. 
 “I was just stunned, really,” Box told me. 
The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly. 
As a member of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Box travels to Greenland from his home in Copenhagen to track down the source of the soot that’s speeding up the glaciers’ disappearance. He aptly calls his crowdfunded scientific survey Dark Snow. 
There are several potential explanations for what’s going on here. The most likely is that some combination of increasingly infrequent summer snowstorms, wind-blown dust, microbial activity, and forest fire soot led to this year’s exceptionally dark ice. A more ominous possibility is that what we’re seeing is the start of a cascading feedback loop tied to global warming. Box mentions this summer’s mysterious Siberian holes and offshore methane bubbles as evidence that the Arctic can quickly change in unpredictable ways. 
This year, Greenland’s ice sheet was the darkest Box (or anyone else) has ever measured. Box gives the stunning stats: “In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption.” 
Perhaps coincidentally, 2014 will also be the year with the highest number of forest fires ever measured in Arctic.
http://climatecrocks.com/2014/09/16/slate-why-greenlands-dark-snow-should-worry-you/ 

Joe Romm: This Changes Everything: Naomi Klein Is Right, Unchecked Capitalism Will Destroy Civilization

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, September 16, 2014
money climb
CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
Best-selling progressive journalist Naomi Klein has an important new book out, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate.” The author of “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine” now “tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth,” as the book jacket aptly puts it.
In diagnosing the unprecedented existential threat humanity faces thanks to our myopia and unbridled greed, Klein has three essential points to make:
  1. Because we have ignored the increasingly urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for a quarter century (!) now, the incremental or evolutionary paths to avert catastrophic global warming that we might have been able to take in the past are closed to us.
  2. Humanity faces a stark choice as a result: The end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it.
  3. Choosing “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization would be a “morally monstrous” choice — and so the winning message for the climate movement is a moral one.
KleinBookAs an aside, readers may remember that I don’t always agree with Klein on either substance or messaging. And obviously I have quibbles with her book — in particular I am skeptical of some elements of her proposed “cure” (and how she frames them) as I’ll discuss in a later post. But in fairness to Klein, our 25-year dawdling has made the diagnosis (and prognosis) unimaginably graver and thus made all cures look politically implausible, as the pessimistic, do-little “eco-modernists” keep pointing out far too gleefully.
To anyone who thinks attacking unchecked capitalism is not a winning a message (when done correctly), I’d urge you to read the adviceof Frank Luntz, the GOP’s top messaging guru, on the subject: “don’t say capitalism” because Americans “think capitalism is immoral.”
The great value in the book lies in Klein’s understanding and elaboration of the three essential points above. Indeed I’m not certain any other book has so clearly spelled out these points. And yet these three points are, arguably, the most important ones for climate hawks, for the (misnamed) “intelligentsia” — indeed, for all homo sapiens — to understand at a deep level, since they clarify the choices we now face in the actions we must now take.
Let’s look at them in turn.
1. Time’s Up
Anyone would expect a far worse diagnosis and far more limited/radical treatment options from your doctor if — for a quarter century — you kept ignoring her increasingly strong recommendations to change your diet as you kept gaining weight and your prediabetes finally became full-blown Type 2 diabetes.
So nobody can profess shock that our situation is much worse and our options for preserving a livable world are far more limited after ignoring thousands of the world’s leading climate “doctors” for more than two decades. Klein quotes leading climatologist Michael Mann:
“There is a huge procrastination penalty when it comes to emitting carbon into the atmosphere”: the longer we wait the more it builds up, the more dramatically we must change to reduce the risk of catastrophic warming.
She quotes climate expert Kevin Anderson that we might have been able to avert catastrophe (stabilize near 2 °C or 3.6 °F total warming) using “significant evolutionary” strategies if we had acted at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit or perhaps even if we had acted around the year 2000, but now only “revolutionary” strategies will work.
Klein’s 566-page book does not have a great deal of science in it. It is clearly for those who accept climate science. I might have preferred a little more detail on why allowing 4 °C (7 °F) warming — let alone why the 6 °C (11 °F) warming we are currently headed toward — is not a rational or moral option.
That said, a lot of other people have laid out that science in great detail. Indeed if it weren’t for the massive denial campaign, the gross miscoverage/undercoverage of climate change by the media, and the blinkered obsession with deck-chair-rearranging by opinion makers, one would say the perilous nature of our situation is mind-numbingly obvious:
Climate action delayed is climate action denied. Literally.
2. Laissez Not Fair
As you’d expect with the subtitle, “Capitalism Vs. The Climate,” the book focuses on a critique of modern capitalism, which Klein generally refers to as “deregulated capitalism.” Klein isn’t calling for an end to capitalism, just an end to the rapacious, self-destructive version it has evolved into.
Klein also takes on deregulated capitalism’s close relatives and accomplices, such as globalization, materialism, hyper-consumerism, and the conservative theory of (non)governance. Indeed she explains that the opening chapters will show:
… the real reason we are failing to rise to climate movement is because the action required directly challenge our reigning economic paradigm (deregulated capitalism combined with public austerity), the stories on which Western cultures are founded (that we stand apart from nature and can outsmart limits), as well as many of the activities that form our identities and define our communities (shopping, living virtually, shopping some more).
These are Klein’s bête noires and areas of expertise. I’m not going to summarize her arguments here in part because reading her thoughts on these subjects is probably the primary reason for buying the book. I can’t do them justice and also it would be hard to avoid quibbling with her history in the areas where we slightly disagree.
What matters most is Klein’s core argument that unchecked capitalism will lead to catastrophe. This is an argument I also make (albeit in a different way). In 2009, I detailed how humanity constructed the grandest of Ponzi schemes, whereby current generations have figured out how to live off the wealth of future generations. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman quoted me:
“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.
“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”
Unchecked capitalism is a Ponzi scheme that must collapse.
3. The moral of our story
Klein argues that the successful social movements were won not on economic grounds, but on moral ones. As Salon put it last year, “Once third-rail issues transform into moral imperatives, impossibilities sometimes surrender to new realities.”
Klein concludes that while it’s important to make economic arguments that immediate climate action is far more cost-effective than inaction followed by attempts at adaptation:
But we will not win the battle for a stable climate by trying to beat the bean counters at their own game…. We will win by asserting that such calculations are morally monstrous, they imply there is an acceptable price for allowing entire countries to disappear, for leaving untold millions to die on harsh land, for depriving today’s children of their right to live in a world teeming with the wonders and beauty of creation.
The crucial nature of the moral argument is one that many are starting to make. The immorality of inaction is a point we simply cannot make too often.
From a messaging perspective, the notion that climate inaction is immoral is one that matches the public’s view of capitalism as we know it today. Back in 2011, Frank Luntz acknowledged that latter point at a Republican Governors Association meeting. Indeed it was his top point:
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’” Luntz said. “The public … still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
Note that Luntz would never say the the public thinks “capitalism is immoral” without having done extensive polling and focus groups.

So unchecked capitalism is immoral and will destroy civilization as we know it. How should it be changed? I’ll discuss Klein’s remedy in Part 2.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Joe Romm: George Will and WattsUpWithThat embrace a proud former shill for a man convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges

September 14, 2014

We all do well to remember how we got to this point.  

Things seemed very different in June of 2009.  People were finally very hopeful that we were on the road to doing something about carbon emissions.  (Please read the comments at the link to the post.  They are really instructive.  Some of you will recognize the names.  I see Peter Sinclair, Gail Zawacki, Dano, dhogaza and Anna Hayes, for example.  For the uninitiate, "TVMOB" = Viscount Monckton.)  

Not so many months after Joe Romm wrote this post, the fake scandal of "Climategate" was trumped up, and the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP15) was in shambles.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton had to chase after the BRIC leaders holding secret meetings.  

Senator Inhofe was threatening Michael Mann.  The main newspapers and TV networks took climate change off the radar.

And so here we are.......

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, June 28 and 29, 2009
Denial makes strange bedfellows.
Two of the leading sources of anti-scientific disinformation on global warming — George Will and Anthony Watts’ blog WattsUpWithThat — have embraced a man, Robert Bradley, who proudly shilled for Enron CEO Ken Lay, who was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in 2006.
Watts and I, you may recall, got into a tiny dustup a couple weeks ago (see Exclusive: New NSIDC director Serreze explains the “death spiral” of Arctic ice, brushes off the “breathtaking ignorance” of blogs like WattsUpWithThat and here).   Since then, Watts has been throwing everything at me including the kitchen stink, with four full posts attacking me this month.  I was planning to ignore him, until two things happened.
First, Watts ran a truly nonsensical piece (here) by Bradley, who is now President of the Institute for Energy Research, which “has received $307,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.”  Bradley is one of the Denier-Industrial-Complex Kooks (DICKs) — see, for instance, “Mysterious industry front-group affiliated with Ken Lay’s former speechwriter launches anti-Waxman-Markey ads with phony MIT cost figures.”
Second, George Will published a piece, “Tilting at Green Windmills” in which he uses a discredited Spanish “study” to claim clean energy investments don’t create jobs (for debunking by CP and the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre, see here and here and here).  Will’s piece is noteworthy for this remarkable admission:
[This] study was supported by a like-minded U.S. think tank (the Institute for Energy Research, for which this columnist has given a paid speech.
That’s right, George Will published an entire piece based on disinformation bought and paid for by a think tank that is bought and paid for by ExxonMobil and run by Ken Lay’s former top shill — and Will also took money from that think tank. At least editorial page editor Fred Hiatt required that much in return for letting Will publish his umpteenth article full of misleading and inaccurate statements.
Now you may say, wait a minute, Joe, sure Bradley served as Director of Public Policy Analysis at Enron, where he was a speechwriter for CEO Kenneth Lay,” who was “convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges on May 25, 2006″ — but how can you say he proudly shilled for Lay when he has wiped any trace of his connection to Enron from his IER biohere?
Well, I have had the misfortune of knowing Bradley for a long time, since Enron Energy Services (EES) reached out to many leading experts on energy efficiency, and they really liked by book, Cool Companies.  Certainly none of the energy efficiency folks were aware of what Enron was doing or they would have quit immediately.  I don’t even know if anyone in EES management knew what Ken Lay and his buddies in top management were doing to fraudulently rip-off the public.
And I have no idea whether Bradley knew of the fraudulent activity, but he certainly knew what kind of company he was working for.  Over the past several months, Bradley has bombarded me with requests to publish articles about the disinformation he and his IER buddies have written.  Just last month he wrote to me and James Hansen:
I wish you (and him) could have been in the Enron government affairs meetings on CO2 trading–we were going to game it to death and make money coming and going. And no one was quaking about the future of global climate.
and before that he wrote to us:
We were going to laugh all the way to the bank with our CO2 trading until the banks said no more laughing–you’re broke.  Keep trying Joe–Enron Lives!
Enron does live in on the likes of people like Bradley.  That’s why Waxman-Markey has put in many safeguards to protect the public from fraud in the CO2 trading.
Does that mean the system will be free from fraud?  Of course not.  You can write all the laws you want against fraud and robbery and other crimes, and greedy people who think they are smarter than everyone else will still break the law.  The same is true of the tax code — people try to cheat it all the time and some succeed.
But one thing you can certainly say about CO2 trading:  The overwhelming majority of CO2 emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels, and flows of natural gas, oil, and coal are very closely tracked in this country, both sales and purchases.  So it would be quite hard to engage in significant fraud of the kind that would lead to, say, much higher actual emissions than were being measured and regulated.  And as for cornering the market and running up the price of a tradable commodity, an Enron specialty, again, W-M has multiple safeguards to prevent that outcome.
I am not going to waste time here debunking the latest Bradley-Watts attack on me since I have dealt with almost every point in previous posts.  It is 100% nonsense, which is no surprise since it is largely an excerpt from something Roger Pielke, Jr., wrote.  But it does contain one unintentionally humorous attack I will address in a later post.

The point is that one shouldn’t have to debunk anything Bradley writes — or anything the Institute for Energy Research has published or supported, including George Will.  You just need to consider the source.

Amazon rainforest deforestation in Brazil drastically reducing rain for agriculture and drinking

Scientists in Brazil believe the loss of billions of litres of water released as vapour clouds by Amazon rainforest trees is the result of continuing deforestation and climate change – leading to devastating drought.

by Jan Rocha, Climate News Network, September 14, 2014

SÃO PAULO − The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the stream of water vapor clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the centre and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump,” releasing billions of litres of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of water vapor.

Meteorologist Jose Marengo, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, first coined the phrase “flying rivers” to describe these massive volumes of atmospheric water vapor that rise from the rainforest, travel west, and then − blocked by the Andes − turn south.

Satellite images from the Centre for Weather Forecasts and Climate Research of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) clearly show that, during January and February this year, the flying rivers failed to arrive, unlike the previous five years.

Alarming proportions

Deforestation all over Brazil has reached alarming proportions: 22% of the Amazon rainforest (an area larger than Portugal, Italy and Germany combined), 47% of the Cerrado in central Brazil, and 91.5% of the Atlantic forest that used to cover the entire length of the coastal area.

Latest figures from Deter, the Real Time Deforestation Detection System based on high frequency satellite images used by INPE, show that, after falling for two years, Amazon deforestation rose again by 10% between August 2013 and July 2014. The forest is being cleared for logging and farming.

Tocantins, Pará and Mato Grosso, three states in the Greater Amazon region that have suffered massive deforestation, are all registering higher average temperatures.

As long ago as 2009, Antonio Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, warned that, without the “flying rivers,” the area that produces 70% of South America’s GNP would be desert.

In an interview with the journal Valor Economica, he said: “Destroying the Amazon to advance the agricultural frontier is like shooting yourself in the foot. The Amazon is a gigantic hydrological pump that brings the humidity of the Atlantic Ocean into the continent and guarantees the irrigation of the region.”

“Of course, we need agriculture,” he said. “But without trees there would be no water, and without water there is no food.

"A tonne of soy takes several tonnes of water to produce. When we export soy we are exporting fresh water to countries that don’t have this rain and can’t produce. It is the same with cotton, with ethanol. Water is the main agricultural input. If it weren’t, the Sahara would be green, because it has extremely fertile soil.”

Underestimated

Like other climate scientists, Nobre thinks the role of the Amazon rainforest in producing rain has been underestimated. In a single day, the Amazon region evaporates 20 billion tons of water vapor − more than the 17 million tonnes of water that the Amazon river discharges each day into the Atlantic.

“A big tree with a crown 20 metres across evaporates up to 300 litres a day, whereas one square metre of ocean evaporates exactly one square metre,” he said. “One square metre of forest can contain eight or 10 metres of leaves, so it evaporates eight or 10 times more than the ocean. This flying river, which rises into the atmosphere in the form of vapor, is bigger than the biggest river on the Earth.”

The fear is that if the Amazon rainforest continues to be depleted at the present rate, events like the unprecedented drought of 2010 will occur more often. The fires set by farmers to clear areas for planting or for cattle-raising make it more vulnerable.

Nobre explained: “The smoke from forest fires introduces too many particles into the atmosphere, dries the clouds, and they don’t rain. During the dry period, of the fires, the forest always maintained a little rain that left it humid and non-flammable, but now two months go by without rain, the forest gets very dry, and the fire gets into it. Amazon trees, unlike those of the Cerrado, have no resistance to fire.”

Nobre’s warning in 2009 was that if deforestation did not stop, there would be a catastrophe in five or six years time. Five years on, his words are now proving to be prophetic as São Paulo and all Brazil’s centre and southeast suffer their worst ever drought, with devastating effects on agriculture, energy and domestic water supplies.

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Wake Up Call Sounded' on Climate, University Faculty Launch Largest Divestment Effort to Date

245 Boston University faculty members ask President and Board of Trustees to divest its endowment from oil, gas, and coal companies.

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer, Common Dreams, September 11, 2014

A group of Divest BU activists at a rally outside the Massachusetts statehouse this spring. (Photo: Divest BU)
In the largest of such efforts by a single university's faculty to date, 245 Boston University professors and instructors on Tuesday called on the President and Board of Trustees to divest its endowment from oil, gas, and coal companies. 

“Because it is unlikely that fossil fuel interests (the major source of this crisis) will stop of their own accord their unrelenting drive to burn these fuels at current rates, we must find strategies to induce them to stop," the letter reads. “We have a moral obligation to align our financial interests with the future of our planet. It is wrong to use our endowment to commission the destruction of a hospitable climate for our students, our children and—as is increasingly evident—ourselves. The wake up call has sounded. It is time to act!”

Faculty representatives, along with a member of the DivestBU student group with which the faculty has formed a coalition, brought their petition to the office of university President Robert Brown on Tuesday afternoon. Brown accepted the letter personally and spoke with the group for about half an hour.

“We are very pleased to hear that President Brown shares with the faculty a deep concern over the threat of climate change,” biology professor Ed Loechler said in a statement. “He also concurs that climate change will be the most important investment issue for the university in the next few years and will thus encourage the institution to engage in open dialogue on this matter.”

Brown said he would forward the petition to the trustees when they meet in two weeks and to the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which was created last year. According to BU Today, the university's news site, the board has divested due to social pressures "at least twice before: in 1979, when it pulled BU’s money from companies with ties to South Africa to protest apartheid, and in 2006, when it divested from companies directly tied to or supporting businesses in Sudan, to protest that government’s genocide in Darfur."

BU Today reports that Brown, "who is a chemical engineer, confessed to being personally ambivalent about whether divestment was the best strategy for 'a very complicated issue.'" He has claimed the best way to combat climate change is to reduce consumption of fossil fuels; to that end, the university has adopted a plan to cut its emissions by focusing on conservation, retrofitting older buildings, and switching from oil to natural gas for energy needs. 

The group says its action builds on the momentum of previous higher education divestment calls, most recently from last April when 93 members of Harvard University’s faculty urged the university to divest from fossil fuels.  According to the website gofossilfree.org, more than a dozen colleges and universities have already pledged to divest from fossil fuels. There are active divestment campaigns on many more campuses across the country.