by Stephen Mulkey, November 13, 2012
On the 5th of November 2012, the Unity College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to divest our endowment from fossil fuel industries. While one might think that this was logical for a college where Sustainability Science structures the academic program, it was not easy. Indeed, the Board’s committee on investment carefully reviewed the potential fiduciary impact of this action. Some members of the Board were uncomfortable with the choice to close off this source of revenue at a time when the College needs every penny. In the end, the Board embraced our ethical obligation to stop supporting an industry that has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of commitment to future generations. I write this letter to urge you to raise this crucially important issue with your governing body.
Why should colleges and universities divest? It is increasingly clear that climate change will be the defining environmental factor of what will come to be seen as the environmental century. Recent work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research indicates that our current rate of emissions will carry us beyond 7 °F average global warming by 2100. Other studies show that warming may be more than 9 °F.