To the Editor:

The students of Bowdoin Climate Action are to be commended for their activism and efforts in advocating for divestment of the college endowment from fossil fuels.  And President Mills is to be commended for stating that “climate change is a hugely important issue” and for arranging a meeting between these students and the Board of Trustees for next October. He also says that about 50 percent of Americans don’t share his belief in climate change. A significant reason that many do not share his belief about the seriousness of climate change is that the fossil fuel industry has spent vast sums to deny the science and foster a climate of doubt about climate change. The issue has falsely been politicized.  

Senator Angus King has said that climate change is not a Democratic or Republican issue but an issue of science.  Science tells us that fully 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground if we are to avoid runaway climate change. The fossil fuel industry will not stop digging without pressure. Quite the contrary: In 2013 it collectively spent $650 billion exploring for more oil, coal and gas to add to its already proven reserves. If burned, these additions would push average global temperatures so high as to make civilization as we have known it, and the survival of an increasing host of species, untenable. 

By divesting, Bowdoin has an opportunity to be a moral leader by applying that pressure.  The divestment movement worldwide is fast growing and soon others will be following those colleges that have already divested. President Mills has stated that the endowment should not be a mechanism by which we choose winners and losers on political and social and moral issues.  In the past many colleges, universities, and municipalities chose to divest from investments in apartheid South Africa and in the tobacco industry. 

These divestments were seen as responding to political, social, and moral issues. The climate change crisis surely rises to that level of seriousness.  And also, by remaining invested in fossil fuel, one is choosing to support the current business model of the fossil fuel industry which, if successful, will likely lead to catastrophic climate change.

As one BCA sign said, “Bowdoin Divestment is for the Common Good.”

Billy Rixon 
Freeport, ME