1. James Miller
  2. Education
  3. Friday, 21 August 2020
Hi All

Climate change was discovered and investigated by scientists who work for universities. So you'd thing that these bastions of knowledge and evidence-based thinking would have been willing, or even eager, to divest from fossil fuels. Sadly, this has not been the case. Despite overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases are causing catastrophic global heating, it has been extremely difficult to persuade them to sever the ties.

Fortunately, sustained pressure over the past decade by the fossil fuel divestment movement has resulted in a growing number of divestments by universities and colleges. But sadly, many others like Harvard and Yale are stubbornly refusing to do the right thing, despite substantial and sustained pressure from key stakeholders, and even though fossil fuels are no longer a good financial investment.

So how did it come to this? How could universities choose to continue providing financial support to fossil companies against the advice of climate scientists, activists, faculty, students, alumni, and even financial advisors? To answer this question, I suspect you'd need to look no further than the connections between the managers of university endowments and the fossil fuel industry. You might also want to look at how many of their donors are connected to the fossil fuel industry. However, I'm just speculating here.

I wonder if anyone can offer any greater insight into how this came to pass and what we can do to ensure that the managers of university endowments conduct themselves with greater ethics and foresight?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Here's a link to a podcast interview with Bill McKibben about this topic:

https://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=20-P13-00026&segmentID=3

For anyone who doesn't know, Bill is the co-founder of 350.org and is very active in the divestment movement.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Education
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Here's a story explaining the depth of the fossil fuel industry's influence over American universities:

https://newrepublic.com/article/158086/pernicious-influence-big-oil-americas-universities

Same thing happened with tobacco. It's history repeating itself.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Education
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Its a tough one, in my view academic studies AND associated briad field should be a free thinking AND learning environment with as only requirement a foundation of understanding and critical thinking capability. Sadly we do not have that. The business of academia is full of money seeking, self serving, dependent individuals. The only collective actions are the bringing in if dollars to survive. In Oz you buy your professorship nowadays rather than seek to develop other academics. Sadly that is where we are at. I used to teach at uni in the late 1990s and early 200s and left disenchanted and sadened by the continual harassment in the face of their search for external dollars rather than academic excellence...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Education
  3. # 3
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