On the day after Election Day, November 7th, Bill McKibben begins a cross-country tour that launches a divestment campaign against the oil, gas and coal industries.
"Together we’ll mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels," he says.
That’s right – just like the apartheid movement back in the 1980s, Bill’s 350.org – which is largely responsible for the current (but temporary) hold on the Keystone tar sands pipeline – believes the only way to get action on climate change is to directly attack the fossil fuel industries’ bottom line.
"Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons of carbon in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all – unless we rise up to stop them," he says.
It’s time for a mass uprising, and he plans to galvanize it. It picks up on edubirdie.com: "Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math," one of the most widely read pieces in the magazine’s history.
At a University of Vermont event in preparation for the tour, McKibben said, "The fossil fuel industry has behaved so recklessly that they should lose their social license – their veneer of respectability. You want to take away our planet and our future? We’re going to take away your money and your good name."
The tour begins in Seattle on November 7, but that venue is sold out. The stop in Boston sold out in less than 24 hours and moved to a venue with 2,700 seats.
As 350′s Matt Leonard, explained to Grist, the tour isn’t simply about "getting butts in seats" for a lecture or concert (musical guests will appear in each city). It’s about getting "the right people" in those seats. "This isn’t just for publicity and outreach," he says. "We’re putting tremendous effort into making sure students, community leaders, college trustees, and influential decision-makers are a part of this event, because they are the ones that will turn this from a talk into a hard-hitting campaign."
Divestment campaigns have already begun at 30 colleges, including several in Vermont, Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, Amherst University of New Hampshire, Lewis & Clark and Cornell, coordinated by Students for a Just and Stable Future, which say, We are stepping up to act for justice where our leaders have failed.
They are calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and have launched the Divest For Our Future website.
"Mitigating climate change through personal lifestyle changes hasn’t worked, and neither has political action. We are taking the fight to the people pulling the strings, by taking capital out of the extraction, production, and distribution of fossil fuels. I think we are going to be successful. In the past, universities have divested their endowments for human rights issues, such as the South Africa apartheid divestment campaigns in the 80’s and 90’s, and tobacco and firearms divestment campaigns in the mid-2000’s. Financial experts have shown that socially responsible investing does not harm returns; there are plenty of profitable investments besides fossil fuels," says Dan Jubelier, a student at Tufts.
Hampshire College in Massachusetts, which was the first university to divest from South Africa in 1977, is again leading the nation – it has divested from investments in fossil fuels.
Here’s the Tour website: