• Paige Machado (CAS’14, MED’18)

    Paige Machado (CAS’14, MED’18) Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 11 comments on POV: Why BU Needs to Divest from Fossil Fuels

    1. Actually, this point has been brought forth numerous times in both literature and current event. This is by no means comprehensive, but the most salient point is to look at the trend in rising number of infectious diseases in relation to our changing climate globally recent decade–and the profound impact on our global population.

      A great deal of pathogens–the living organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that carry these diseases–are extremely sensitive to temperature. These pathogens are not necessarily bad. But changing their environment will affect how they survive and infect humans and other living organisms [1]. Thus, when you examine the recent trend of above-average temperatures globally, it makes sense that even minuscule temperature changes can knock off the balance and have a rippling effect in potential spread of new infectious diseases.

      One relevant example is the Zika virus that affecting millions in Latin America. This year, especially, the strong El Niño weather pattern has caused unprecedented rainfall in areas in Latin America. In combination with the above-average temperatures, the virus has been linked to higher rates of “mosquito-biting and accelerate the development of mosquito larvae”. [2]

      Furthermore, from a population health perspective, with climate change, there has been a massive scale of human migration as a result of the weather- and natural disasters-related events. The Dean of the SPH brought up this point, “forced migration and the attendant processes of adaptation constitute a powerful set of stressors that may exacerbate pre-existing health problems and increase risk of new-onset health problems” [3]. This speaks to not only infectious diseases, but also chronic, long-term diseases.

      These two small examples just shows the profound impact climate change has already had on our global community and will continue to do so if we do not find ways to mitigate and reverse our impact.

      [1] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/el-nino-climate-pattern/
      [2] http://www.citylab.com/weather/2016/01/zika-virus-el-nino-climate-change-infectious-disease/433905/
      [3] http://www.bu.edu/sph/2015/09/06/climate-change-and-population-health/

      1. It’s unlikely ZIKA, a fairly begnign virus, is the cause of the current scare in Latin/South America. More likely the cause is a Monsanto mosquito larvacide (Pyriproxyfen), that acts as a juvenoid (endocrine disruptor)

  1. This just makes sense, I always ask my doctor for investment advice. Paige, how else should I be allocating my portfolio? I always thought the objective of investing was to gain a profit but you really opened my eyes.

    1. I agree with you here. This “advice” comes from a person who doesn’t understand the purpose of investment.

      But I would also go a few steps further here:
      (1) If divestment from fossil fuels is the goal, and there should be more “acceptable” investment instead – will students accept an even higher cost of college if those acceptable investments turn out to be bad from a financial point of view?
      (2) Why stop there? Should BU, with all its rhetoric about climate change start converting to a 100% clean energy university? And simply pass on the additional cost to students or accept a lower a lower salary for administrative people who push this?

      It seems to me too easy to always just talk about who should cut back on fossil fuel consumption and investment. Lead by example, not by words!

      1. “will students accept an even higher cost of college if those acceptable investments turn out to be bad…?”
        “[Will BU] simply pass on the additional cost to students or accept a lower salary for administrative people who push this?”

        Of these 3 statements on potential consequences, none are inevitable. The BU admin should allay concerns about rising costs by acknowledging that eco-friendly energy (& management) decisions may cost more, but will not be passed on to students & their parents. The 3rd possible outcome may be unavoidable considering BU’s long history of continually raising tuition & fees. But the Business Model of higher ed already, & deliberately, adds unnecessary costs thru administrative bloat & vanity construction. We can do better than that, much better. Many of these costs can be avoided by higher-level administrators agreeing to smaller raises (not pay cuts) during transition periods. It’s time to step up & show leadership!

    2. It seems that the author is advocating a values-based investment approach. This often comes at a cost to profits, but comes with the benefit of being morally consistent. If you run a business which aims to fight lung cancer, it makes sense to not invest in cigarette companies. BU is trying to promote values of sustainability and improving public health, even if that may come at the cost of reducing the overall bottom line.

  2. Thoughtful, appropriate and welcomed piece Paige.

    As for concerns expressed in a comment to your piece about costs, it is far more cost effective to plan such that new budgeting for moving coastal residents, building sea walls, and developing new energy infrastructure are kept as minimal as possible. The current fossil fuel ultra-dependency and investments will only exacerbate climate change impacts and thus be far more costly for current and future generations.

  3. I commend you for a thoughtful and generally well written appeal, but I find it disappointing to see the reliance on the suspect / misleading (at best) claim of “overwhelming scientific consensus”. It does a disservice to your argument and it simply is not intellectually honest. I suggest making your case in other ways. The tired old “97% agree” claim has far too many valid criticisms. Just one available article that presents some interesting points about consensus was arrived at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425232/climate-change-no-its-not-97-percent-consensus-ian-tuttle

    1. The consensus still exists. Perhaps it’s not as high as 97%, but it’s too easy to target that specific % as a means of undercutting the struggle against impacts of climate change. We should subtract most scientists (sic) whose research is funded by fossil fuel corporations & their enablers. With their conclusions bought & sold, & thus largely predetermined, they are outliers who should be left out of consideration.

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