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The Blue & Gray Press | December 13, 2017

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Adopting 100 percent clean energy to save the environment isn’t as hard as you think

Adopting 100 percent clean energy to save the environment isn’t as hard as you think

By MONA OSMER

As University of Mary Washington students, we are watching as our peers fight for a cause that seems intangible and, to some, unclear. However, the only reason why climate change may seem intangible is because it is already happening and we have limited time to fix what has already occurred.

As Virginians, we have witnessed a freakishly warm and sunny winter that only precipitated snow and ice approximately five times, according to the Washington, D.C. weather forecast.

Now, not only are we as individuals finally recognizing the affects of climate change, but so are Senators, legislative bodies and political leaders.

As of March 29, Texas City, Texas proposed that they will be a 100 percent renewably powered city by January 2017. In many Texas cities, the electricity market is versatile and customers can choose both a provider and plan. For example, Houston, Texas, offers 70 plans formed by a platform of entirely renewable sources.

Because these energy plans are already available to consumers, it is easier to move the whole platform to entirely renewable energy options. Formerly, markets focused on the benefits in the immediate future, rather than long term. Renewable energy has always been a long-term commitment, but not anymore.

Texas City is not the only city in the country that started a plan for renewable energy. Burlington, Vermont already achieved their goal of going 100 percent renewable energy.

Divestment, the opposite of investing, is simply a means of getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous, and it is seen as a step toward adopting 100 percent fossil fuel free energy. This is not an impossible feat for administration and students here at UMW, or anywhere for that matter.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists 12 municipalities that have made commitments to 100 percent renewable power.

DivestUMW members are focused on fighting an industry that is turning a dime, while degrading the environment and hindering our chances at having a future that includes clean running water and green, grass lined yards.

Climate change has been a concern since the 1970s. I hear it every Wednesday in my three o’clock Environmental Politics course.

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, meeting in Stockholm on June 16, 1972, considered the need for a common outlook and principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment.

According to gofossilfree.org, 26 colleges have ignored the risks and taken a step toward bettering their school’s community and future by divesting. Approximately 26 cities have divested as well.

Divestment, therefore, is the right step toward severing all ties with fossil fuel producers and becoming morally separated from those who still support the fossil fuel industry and the destruction of geographical features such as oceans and natural springs. Cutting funding and driving the fossil fuel industry through the guillotine is the only way to protect our Earth and its intricate, beautiful and fragile environment.

Divestment is a movement that is rising throughout the nation. Through social media and news coverage, DivestUMW is making its voice heard, even if their demands are not met, they are adding volume to the many others fighting for the same cause at other universities and city council meetings.

Divestment can be the small transitional step that officials take toward federal and, eventually, national adoption of 100 percent clean energy programs.