Today, 93 faculty members from Harvard University sent an open letter to the president and fellows of the school, calling on the university to divest from fossil fuels.

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Graphic courtesy of Harvard Faculty for Divestment’s Facebook page

In signing the letter, faculty members expressed disappointment with the April 7 statement from President Drew Faust that divestment is not an option the university is willing to consider.

According to Harvard Faculty Divest, President Faust’s statements claim that while Harvard owns a very small fraction of these stocks representing a small fraction of its endowment, the school will exert greater influence if it continues to hold these shares than if it openly divests. This indicates a misunderstanding of the purpose and goals of divestment, and ignores the lessons of the past.

The faculty members point to the misinformation perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry, saying the industry seeks to promote the denial of accepted science and exert an undue degree of influence on government, while marketing a product that we cannot afford to continue consuming. 

The letter goes on to reference the extreme weather, rising levels of acidified oceans and reductions of biodiversity from the unstable global climate that represent major threats to human health as documented consequences of fossil fuel extraction and consumption that the university cannot afford to ignore. 

The conclusion of the letter reads:

We know that fossil fuel use must decrease. To achieve this goal, not only must research and education be pursued with vigor, pressure must also be exerted. If there is no pressure, then grievous harm due to climate change will accelerate and entrench itself for a span of time that will make the history of Harvard look short.

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