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(NaturalNews) You may be reading this and wonder why a man (especially one who is not a doctor) would write about an issue that involves the female anatomy such as PMS and the menstruation period. The author of this article claims no expertise on this subject but rather only seeks...
Surgeon fires assistant without pay over 'distracting' cancer diagnosis after 12 years of devoted work
(NaturalNews) Fifty-one-year-old Carol Jumper had recently fallen ill for a few weeks. Her fiancee rushed her to the nearest emergency room to their home in the Hopewell Township of Beaver County, Pennsylvania.Soon after, she was diagnosed with cancer affecting her liver, ovaries...
Erica Knox: Leveraging privilege
Stanford University student Erica Knox went to see Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour in November 2012. That’s when McKibben and 350.org launched a divestment movement to address climate change and challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry. Knox has been involved with divestment group Fossil Free Stanford ever since. “It’s definitely the group on campus where I feel like I’m actually creating change,” she said.
Modeled after the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and ’80s, the divestment campaign pressures universities and other institutions to sell their stock in fossil fuel companies. The movement has spread to more than 300 schools nationwide, as well as cities and faith-based institutions. San Francisco and Seattle, churches including the United Church of Christ, and small colleges such as Hampshire and Pitzer have already pledged to divest.
Divestment is just one strategy to combat climate change, says Knox, who is majoring in earth systems. But she says Stanford students can use their connection to the university’s $18.7 billion endowment to make a strong statement. “It’s important for us while we’re at a university with this kind of power and privilege to leverage that to actually make a difference.”Donald Kennedy: President Emeritus for fossil fuel divestment
Divestment is nothing new to Donald Kennedy. While he was serving as president of Stanford in the 1980s, the university divested from specific companies that supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. Now, the former president and current Bing Professor of Environmental Science and Policy is supporting the university’s decision to begin divesting from coal-mining companies.
Kennedy was one of 170 tenured professors who signed a letter addressed to President Hennessy and the Board of Trustees. The letter, which followed a university-wide divestment petition that gathered nearly 2,000 signatures, called for Stanford to divest from all fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas. As President Emeritus, Kennedy’s was one of the most prominent names supporting the request to divest.
Kennedy, whose research interests include global climate change, believes coal divestment is valid, as there are alternative fuels that could be substituted for coal. He hopes there will be “careful and thoughtful analysis of what might be done elsewhere in order to promote a more effective set of climate policies.” He’s in favor of actions like divestment that encourage companies to pursue “a more controlled approach to the very serious problem of climate change.”Amy Tomasso: Calling for climate change action now
Amy Tomasso, a Stanford urban studies major from Farmington, Conn., was drawn to Fossil Free Stanford’s focus on student activism and the momentum that divestment was gaining on campus.
Last year, the group met with the university’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing to request divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. After months of review, Stanford’s Board of Trustees announced on May 6, 2014, that it had agreed to begin divesting its stock in coal-mining companies.
The announcement, which came sooner than expected, was a surprise to Tomasso and other activists on campus. It positioned Stanford as the first major university to make a commitment to divest from coal. Fossil Free Stanford organizers celebrated their victory while planning to push for divestment from all fossil fuels, including oil and natural gas. Tomasso says it’s important for young people to lead the fight for fossil fuel divestment because they’re the first generation who’ll be living through the consequences of climate change.
“Everyone can be an activist,” says Tomasso. “Everyone has things they care about and love. If you take a moment to think about them, you’ll realize that the call to action is now.”
The fall foliage season that prompts millions of Americans to undertake jaunts into the countryside each year could come much later and possibly last a little longer within a century, according to new research. Climate change could postpone fall leaf peeping in some areas of the United States as summer temperatures linger later into the year, Princeton University researchers report in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.
As the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City approaches, efforts to address climate change through money-moving campaigns are growing.This past January, 17 foundations with combined assets of nearly $2 billion pledged to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy.
For the past few years, this work has mostly been about divestment—people and organizations pledging not to invest in fossil fuel companies. First, students concerned about the future of the climate pressed their colleges and universities to divest from stocks in coal, gas, and oil. More than 10 small schools, including the University of Dayton, Hampshire College, and the College of the Atlantic, have complied. And, in the largest divestment in the sector, Stanford University pledged in May 2014 that its $18 billion endowment would not be invested in coal.
But it’s not just colleges and universities that are divesting. Pension funds, municipalities, philanthropies, and hospitals have joined in too—as well as individual investors.
Those divestments haven’t directly hurt the finances of companies like Exxon Mobil, but that was never the strategy. Instead, the campaign has isolated fossil fuel companies, weakened their political power, and commented on the failure of governments to take action on climate change.
But where should organizations put their money, if they aren’t putting it into fossil fuel companies?
That’s the question behind the movement’s new strategy, known as “divest-invest,” which seeks to make divestment more effective by taking funds previously invested in fossil fuels and reinvesting them in renewable energy and sustainable economic development.
And it’s more than just a strategy—“Divest-Invest” also refers to a growing coalition of foundations who’ve made the pledge, as well as to an online portal of activity that provides information about doing so.
The approach is catching on. This past January, 17 foundations with combined assets of nearly $2 billion pledged to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy as part of the Divest-Invest Philanthropy initiative. Since that time, dozens more have committed to do the same. Their names are scheduled to be released on September 23, during the United Nations Climate Summit.An ethical and financial strategy Pension funds, municipalities, philanthropies, and hospitals have joined in too—as well as individual investors.
Back in 2012, climate change’s “terrifying new math”—as 350.org founder Bill McKibben called it—brought new urgency to the climate crisis. Scientists had demonstrated that 80 percent of the world’s current fossil fuel reserves needed to stay in the ground to prevent the worst scenarios, in which the planet warms by more than 2 degrees Celsius. Yet the oil, gas, and coal sectors intend to burn them all, and continue to invest more than $600 billion a year finding new ones.
After the collapse of 2009 U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen and the failure that same year of the United States Congress to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions, activists called for a re-evaluation of strategies.
Divestment has emerged as one of the most promising. An indirect approach to reducing carbon emissions, divestment sidesteps a political system captured by oil, gas, and coal corporations. Similar strategies were essential to the regulation of the powerful tobacco industry in the 1990s.
The case for divestment is both ethical and financial. A number of studies indicate that divesting a portfolio from fossil fuels can be done without damaging financial returns (for example, see this analysis by the investment management firm Aperio Group ).
In fact, the risky thing to do may be retaining investments in fossil fuels. If movements succeed in pressing for carbon regulation, assets in the sector could become “stranded” and worth less, driving down investment returns.
Global investment in clean energy peaked in 2011 at nearly $318 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, but has declined since then. Some in the climate movement believe that a focus on reinvesting funds could change that.“Individual investors can catalyze quicker transformation ... by increasing demand for fossil-free financial products."
Groups rallying around the idea of divest-invest are urging policymakers, businesses, and investors to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and invest deeply in renewable energy. Investments in that sector made during the next 15 years are likely to be a a major determining factor in the climate’s future, according to a new report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
There’s a role for individuals to play as well. Organizers from student and philanthropy divestment movements have launched Divest-Invest Individual, a campaign to enlist individual investors in a pledge to divest from fossil fuels over the next five years.
“Individual investors can catalyze greater and quicker transformation of business as usual by increasing demand for fossil-free financial products and other alternative economic vehicles,” said Lisa Renstrom, co-chair of Divest-Invest Individual.
Meanwhile, the divestment movement continues to gather steam. This spring, the Norwegian government created an independent panel to review whether the country’s sovereign wealth fund should be divested from oil, gas, and coal. And major religious groups in the United States and the General Synod of the Church of England are either divesting or considering the idea.
Chuck Collins wrote this article for YES! Magazine. It's presented here as part of Climate In Our Hands, a collaboration with Truthout that focuses on the climate justice movement. Chuck is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good.
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