An email from Chair of the Reed College Board of Trustees, Roger Perlmutter ’73, and President of Reed College, Audrey Bilger, appeared in my inbox today. As I read, a grin spread from ear to ear. I could feel joy rising in my chest. Divestment at last!! My next action was to share the good news with friends and colleagues and to thank anyone who might have been influential in getting the Board to take this step. Make no mistake, a large number of people in the Reed community, students, alumni, staff, and faculty, have urged the Trustees many times over the past decade to take this step. I have added my voice on occasion, sometimes through personal meetings, sometimes through direct correspondence with College leadership, and several times through this blog (here’s a post from 2016; you can also click on the Climate Change category at the bottom of this post to see all posts on this topic). Each time I encountered resistance (or just silence), I told myself, “this is a difficult step for the Trustees to take”, but I never doubted for a moment that divestment was essential.
Let’s hope that where Reed College is going, others will follow. The planet is changing. Our actions are changing it. Most of the greenhouse gases that have been released world-wide have been produced during my lifetime. The corrective steps that need to be taken are easy to describe – stop creating (and funding the creation) of fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere – but how we get to “stop” and “reduce” are much harder problems to solve. It won’t happen overnight. So all of us — me, you, Reed College, and people all over the world — need to see this as our collective project, and to encourage each other in the effort.
Our planet is worth saving. And I am 100% certain that my grandchildren, if they were old enough to understand the nature of the problems facing the planet, would strongly agree.
To read Reed College’s divestment announcement, click here.