By Jamie DeMarco, Guest Writer
“Climate change is not just about polar bears.” This was part of Chemistry Professor John Brock’s message at the community meeting on February 26th. He reminded us that climate change is a people issue and a social justice issue. He spoke of the sea level rise that will displace millions around the world, and the subsequent health concerns, conflicts or even wars. After hearing his presentation it was crystal clear in my mind that we need to combat climate change and we need to do it now.
Our college endowment currently owns stock in fossil fuel companies. Selling those stocks, AKA divesting, is one of the most effective ways to fight climate change. Lillyanne, a Warren Wilson graduate and current organizer. She spoke about the national and international fossil fuel divestment campaign that Warren Wilson is a part of. She said it this campaign has the potential to change the world. Though, the global divestment campaign can only reach its full potential if schools like Warren Wilson lead the way and divest from fossil fuels.
Jane Hatley from Self Help Credit Union spoke as an expert on investments, stressing that selling our stock in fossil fuels is a safe financial decision, and even an economically rewarding decision. Sara Day, president of accelerating Appalachia painted the school an inspiring picture of all the good that could be done if Warren Wilson were to invest our money here in Appalachia.
I, Jamie DeMarco, was the last speaker. After explaining that Warren Wilson’s endowment is less than 1% invested in stocks of fossil fuel companies, and excluding these companies from our investments would be entirely inconsequential to the financial stability of the college, I left the crowd with this story.
When I was a freshman I went to a professor for advice on what I could major in. At one point in our discussion this professor told me “Jamie, there are lots of ways to make the world a better place… unless you’re not interested in making the world a better place in which case you can get the hell out of my office.”
Students come to Warren Wilson because they want to make the world a better place. The faculty and staff that run our school want to make the world a better place, and a future world ravaged by climate chaos is not that better place. California is in the middle of the worst drought in modern history, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, and there is no end in sight. None of us want to see what the lush valleys of Swannanoa look like when climate change driven droughts strike home. We have to stand up and act now if we want a better world, one where the Islands of Indonesia are not consumed by rising seas, and students at Warren Wilson College can still sled in the snow that falls on Dogwood. I believe in Warren Wilson, and I hope you do too. That belief now calls on us to divest from fossil fuels.
What can you do to help Warren Wilson divest from fossil fuels? Sign the divestment petition, come to our meetings, be in solidarity with the movement and wear one of the divestment t-shirts or divestment patches, tell a friend, support divestment in Student Caucus and Faculty Forum, and when the time comes, be willing to demonstrate your support for fighting climate change.