Glencora Borradaile






         Associate Professor & College of Engineering Dean's Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

May 20, 2016

OSU faculty call for fossil fuel divestment in open letter

Filed under: Silent Glen Speaks @ 3:17 pm
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[from the press release]

More than one hundred members of the academic community at Oregon State University have signed an open letter calling on the OSU Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. Signers include professors, staff and graduate students from across a wide range of university departments. They include 14 faculty from the College of Occean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, which is recognized for its world-class climate science. A committee of the Foundation will meet on Friday to discuss the question of divestment.

Among the signers is Kathleen Dean Moore, Professor of Philosophy at OSU, and author of a recent book, Great Tide Rising, on how to respond to the climate crisis. When asked about divestment at OSU, she said that the arguments made against divestment are riddled with flawed logic. “Divestment is about saving your own integrity,” she said. “Divestment will not bring down the fossil fuel industry, but it might allow the university to claim that it really is acting in the interests of its students.”

Another signer is Peter Clark, Professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. He recently led an analysis, published in the highly-regarded journal Nature Climate Change, which found that without a rapid transition to non-fossil energy systems, emissions from burning fossil fuels in the coming decades will commit us to dramatic changes in climate and sea level that will last for the next ten thousand years and beyond. According to the open letter, “divestment is one action among many that will be needed to shift the social logic away from coal, oil and gas, and propel our economy toward cleaner sources of energy.”

Ben Phalan, a Research Associate in the College of Forestry who wrote the letter with colleagues Glencora Borradaile (College of Engineering) and Ken Winograd (College of Education), said: “each of the last two years were the hottest since records started in 1880, and this year is on course to be hotter still. Divestment alone will not stop climate change, but it is an important step in the right direction. It sends a message to companies that it is unacceptable to make short-term profits at the expense of poorer countries, future generations and other species, all of whom are hit hardest by climate change. And it gives a mandate to governments to increase support for low-carbon energy and fulfill the pledges they made in Paris.”

In the past two years, the OSU Faculty Senate and the ASOSU Senate have passed resolutions in support of divestment. A ballot of OSU students last month found that 78% supported divestment from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies.

[see the full letter with all 101 signers here]

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