After 116 days, the ‘divest from fossil fuels’ protest outside the office of MIT’s president came to a close on Tuesday. The sit-in group, which was composed of students, faculty, and alumni, has been pressuring the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to divest from all fossil fuels even though it would cause irreparable harm to MIT’s financial portfolio.
The students, one study shows, are part of a growing pattern of young adults being unknowingly “radicalized” by environmentalists as part of a larger plan to demonize fossil fuels. The protest only came to end after certain demands were met by the Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber.
The protest was largely seen as being symbolic since MIT said they would not divest their portfolio of energy stocks and other fossil fuel investments. MIT believes they have more influence over fossil fuel companies remaining as an investor, “rather than calling them out and distancing them,” Zuber said.
The administrators also said they would “strengthen MIT’s plan for Action on Climate Change” and review the target of a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on campus. Instead of 32 percent being the goal, it would be the “starting point.” MIT’s Office of Sustainability said they would review the Institute’s progress each year.
The agreement came after many months of closed-door discussions and the protest was used as leverage to “put pressure on the administration to continue talks.” The group spearheading the divestment is Fossil Free MIT, or FFMIT, and they have been badgering the administration to remove fossil fuels from its portfolio.
FFMIT is the byproduct of environmental activist Bill McKibben, who began encouraging large colleges and institutions to divest themselves of fossil fuels to ostensibly “save the planet” via any means necessary. McKibben is also the head of 350.org, named after the goal of bringing CO2 concentrations back to 350 parts per million from their current level of 400 ppm.
350.org uses a variety of mediums to inculcate young people into their movement. And a recent study in January by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) showed the fossil fuel divestment movement is really about “radicalizing college students with hostility toward fossil-fuel use,” said Peter Wood, president of NAS.
“The leaders of the movement are quite candid about it not being able to succeed in reaching its goals of getting the country off of fossil fuels or universities divesting their shares in fossil fuels,” Wood said. “But what they are hoping for is to use the colleges as an avenue to radicalize a substantial number of young adults into a permanent opposition to fossil fuels.” He points to McKibben as being a major leader and says he is a “Utopian primitivist who would like to see 90 percent of the world’s population disappear and the world return to a level of subsistence agriculture.”
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