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I just got back from a student faculty meeting on divestment, and unfortunately I was never called on to talk, but there were so many things I wanted to ask.

For those of you that don't know, divestment refers to a movement asking universities and other large bodies to take their investments out of the top 200 fossil fuel companies. At the University of Wisconsin at Madison we are asking our foundation (which is worth 2.3 billion dollars) to take their investment out of fossil fuels (the numbers are not given to the public, but nationally a 3% investment in fossil fuels is assumed. For our university that amounts to 69 million dollars). Our foundation gets a variety of donations and then invests that money into a spread of stocks (risk aversion). As mentioned 3% of those stocks are likely in fossil fuel companies.

Today the faculty had a forum on the issue, and whether or not they were going to stand as a body and support divestment or not. In particular, my respected teacher Galen McKinley was on that board. She went over the graphs I was already familiar with of 'business as usual' warming, and severely mitigated warming. She argued against divestment, and instead advocated for personal lifestyle change. I don't disagree with her, but I answer, porque no los dos?

In particular I would like to ask Galen McKinley three questions.

1. In your opinion, is the growth of the fossil fuel industry positively associated with the increased combustion of fossil fuels?

2. Would the increased combustion of fossil fuels put us closer to the higher end of warming or the lower end of warming? (which curve will it mimick)?

3. Is it ethical to support a 69 million dollar investment that intends on the fossil fuel industry increasing their capacity to combust fossil fuels?

I think sometimes cowardice is camouflaged in false complexity.


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