I am surprised that the climate activists behind Divest Princeton were pleased with the measures that the University has taken to drop fossil fuels. Your cover stated, “Dropping Fossil Fuels,” but the dissociation is far from dropping fossil fuels. This seems like a half measure that doesn’t achieve any of the change that the activists are seeking. If the University were serious about divesting from these companies and ultimately dropping fossil fuels, it could ensure that no products from Exxon Mobil and the other 89 blacklisted companies make their way onto campus. That includes natural gas that provides electricity, gasoline and diesel used in motor vehicles, and the rubber and plastics used throughout campus. Additionally, it could stop accepting Annual Giving money from alumni who work for or have investments in these companies. It could cut ties with any company with operations in Canada until it outlaws tar sand development. The University could also dissociate from China since it stubbornly continues to be the world’s worst polluter.
If Princeton truly wants to drop fossil fuels it has a lot more work to do. So why doesn’t the University do more? It’s because life without fossil fuels is much worse than life with them. Fossil fuels have allowed human flourishing and the high standard of living that Princeton’s students, activists, professors, and trustees enjoy. Instead of pandering to the activists, the University should own up to the fact that to have a high standard of living the University must use fossil fuels.