Saturday, September 18, 2021

Money poured in harmful oil companies

We have 3-D printing. We have videogame systems that respond to our voices. We have robots that can land on comets. So why do we still rely on things like oil and hydro-fracking for fuel sources? Why do we invest millions of dollars each year into something that is destroying our planet?

Everybody knows about investing in the stock market. You invest when you buy, and you divest when you sell. Divestment is a term that has become widely popular in the conservation front. Environmentalists encourage people to part money from companies that are harmful to the earth such as oil and fossil fuel businesses.

Here at Plattsburgh State, we even have a divestment club. President of the club, Josh Cummings, said their main goal is to encourage PSUC’s endowment committee to divest from non-eco-friendly stocks. Cummings said the endowment committee receives an estimated $15 million a year. The divestment club doesn’t know how much the committee invests into Earth-harmful stocks, but from research done at other schools, the average is around 10 percent of its total endowment. That’s $1.5 million in stocks such as oil, hydro-fracking and other fossil fuels. Cummings said the reason why people invest in companies like Exxon and BP is because it’s a quick and easy way to make money, even if it’s not the safest for the earth.

Have you ever seen how coal is acquired now? It’s not like the old days when fathers and sons would venture down into mines and emerge with black faces and carts full of coal. Instead, explosives are planted all over hills and mountains. One second, majestic rock formations are there, the next, a pile of rubble where coal can be excavated. It’s surprising to see a supposedly impenetrable surface go from boulders to pebbles.

The divestment club is currently collecting names for a petition to be considered by the endowment committee. I signed it — got a cool little pin that says “fossil free,” too. Nick Rutkowski, a member of PSUC’s divestment club, said he’s pretty confident in their efforts.

“We tabled in the ACC, and in three hours we got 78 signatures.” Rutkowski said being on board with divestment is not a hard process. All you have to do is put your name down and we’re one step closer to a greener Earth. It’s that simple. Cummings said other schools such as SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Albany have already taken steps toward divestment on their campuses.

It’s not just college students getting involved in divestment. Big business has its place in saving the earth, too. Heirs to John D. Rockefeller’s fortune that he made from his company, Standard Oil, have recently announced they will be going green and divesting from any stock associated with global warming. Rutkowski said, “If the Rockefellers can do that, I’m sure a small school like SUNY Plattsburgh can do it.”

Now at this point, I’m sure you’re asking, “Well, if people divest, where are they supposed to invest?” There are alternatives to fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources.

Companies such as Astrum Solar, a solar energy provider, and Clean Currents, a wind energy provider, offer energy sources that are not only eco-friendly but lucrative, too. The alternatives are there, but the first step is to stop pouring money into planet-killing resources.

For more information on divestment and eco-friendly energy sources, you can visit 350.org or gofossilfree.org. And remember, you don’t need to be a Rockefeller to help save the planet.

Email Griffin Kelly at griffin.kelly@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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