Rachel Carson understood that money talks. She would have welcomed the successes of today’s fossil fuel divestment campaigns and their careful dissection of the evasions and prevarications of the oil, gas, and coal industries and the disastrous effect of their products on the planet and on human health. And she would have been heartened by the leading role of young Americans on college campuses in calling these companies to account, in demanding that colleges and universities live up to their professed ideals by eliminating their investments in fossil fuel companies and refusing to accept contributions from them. It is why the Rachel Carson Council, the organization that Carson wanted her friends to initiate to carry on after her death, has published this comprehensive report, Money Talks: Strategy, Success, and Action on Divesting and Reinvesting Funds for Fossil Fuels.
Money Talks grows out of the work of the Rachel Carson Council in campus divestment and reinvestment campaigns over a number of years, especially the work of our RCC Fellows and Stanback Fellows who have led campaigns at UNC-Asheville, Wilmington, and Chapel Hill, as well as at Vanderbilt, Tulane, and the Claremont colleges. The voices of the current generation are central to Money Talks. Our report is not just about the intricacies of endowment holdings and decision-making, socially responsible investments, or negotiations with Boards of Trustees.
While the state of the world seems grim, it’s not too late to prevent the worst effects of climate change. But immediate action is necessary. More frequent wildfires, more dangerous storms, and more pronounced droughts line reports like algal blooms along the Gulf Coast. Combating the industry that is profiting from progressive environmental destabilization is crucial to preserving Earth’s vital systems. This report, Money Talks, traces the rise of one of the most effective social movements in U.S. history, one that was little noticed at first, or simply dismissed as impractical and ineffective. Now trillions of dollars have been removed from the fossil fuel industry and often reinvested in more sustainable and renewable enterprises. Money Talks serves as revelatory history, critical guide, and, in its final section, as a practical organizing tool for campus advocates to mount effective divestment and reinvestment campaigns. But the powerful and still growing divestment wave is cresting barely in time if humanity is to be spared the worst climate scenarios. Fortunately, the very severity and visibility of the current climate crisis continues to fuel activism. But the dangers of what has been called “an existential threat” cannot be overemphasized.
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