The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its World Energy Outlook stated that “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal [with a probability of 50%].” The IEA also stated that without action by 2017, all of the energy infrastructure that will be in place by that year will emit enough CO2 throughout their service lives to thwart the 2°C goal. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a think thank comprised of financial specialists seeking to increase the transparency of carbon embedded in global financial markets, took this a step further and stated that no more than one-fifth of proven fossil fuel reserves can be burned in order to achieve the 2°C goal with a probability of 80% percent.
In spite of this, the fossil fuel industry spent $674 billion in 2012 alone to expand and develop carbon resources, a wasteful expenditure that contradicts the realities of a warming world. It is clear that a minimum of 66% of fossil fuel assets must be left stranded and investments reallocated, lest humanity face unthinkable consequences.
It boggles the mind to contemplate how chained to the service of money our society has become, that corporate leaders, in possession of the startling predictions, will knowingly cannibalize the planet that their children will inherit for the sake of short-term profits.
It is the unavoidable responsibility of our institutions of higher learning, our colleges and universities, to do everything within their means to shake the corporate establishment out of their somnambulistic march towards global destruction. If the very institutions that employ scientists to teach the youth of today cannot break free of the chains of short-term financial gain, then there really is no hope for us.
In this light, we call upon the Board of Regents at UH to display the enlightened attitude required to break with past policies and redirect the university’s endowment in a manner that is consistent with the well-being of future generations of UH students and of humanity.