SAMOHI students — let's get CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuels!

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Let's get our teachers' retirement fund, CalSTRS, to divest from fossil fuels! Show your teachers that you support fossil fuel divestment by signing this petition.

Wait… What is fossil fuel divestment?

When people invest their money, they might buy stocks, bonds, or other investments that generate income. Universities (and colleges in the U.S.), religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions put billions in these same kinds of investments to generate income to help them run. Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors and the planet; organizations like 350.org and groups like us aiding their cause, are calling on institutions to divest from these companies.

Divestment from fossil fuels is an end to their sponsorship. Fossil fuel companies help build sponsorship relationships that create a 'social license to operate.' This  allows them to continue expanding operations at a time of climate crisis and to ignore the demands for justice of those communities living on the frontline of fossil fuels' destructive, polluting operations.

Okay, but how will having me sign this petition make a difference?

Team Marine needs support from as many students as possible to show our CalSTRS and our teachers that we do not want their pension money invested in unethical and financially risky sectors contributing to irreversible damages to our planet and our health, while also causing our teachers’ pension to lose money. We need your support to show that we care that our teachers money is invested in industries that do not guarantee a good future for their students.

Why are fossil fuels bad?

Approximately 49% of the U.S. greenhouse gases come from fossil fuels, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency - targeting fossil fuels would make the most impact overall. Fossil fuels are destroying our environment. They pollute at every step, from production to disposal of plastics and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and global warming. Climate change is responsible for various natural disruptions and disasters, including the most current and impactful wildfires in our beloved California forests. As SoCal residents, we have witnessed first hand just how destructive these fires are and their worsening severity over time. Ultimately, fossil fuels are destroying the world around us. According to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the world is facing "a direct existential threat" and must rapidly shift from dependence on fossil fuels by 2020 to prevent "runaway climate change."

Burning fewer fossil fuels is not only the primary solution to climate change, but it is also the most impactful way to tackle air pollution. According to an article by Yale University, in the U.S., air pollution takes the lives of about 100,000 people every year. It's the cause of 3% of all U.S. deaths, which is more deaths than traffic accidents and homicides combined, and air pollution costs the American economy up to $1 trillion per year. The geographic distribution of health problems varies with the specific source of pollution. Vehicle pollution is the greatest in urban areas. And industrial pollution such as oil refineries occurs in hotspots throughout Texas and the Southeast. The types of chemicals released through the fossil fuel extraction, refining, and release into the atmosphere also vary, but those involved include mercury, benzene, fine air particulate matter such as PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. Many of these are ranked in the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization. Not to mention, according to a Harvard study, an increase of 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with an 8% increase in the COVID-19 death rate.

As is the case for many environmental problems, those who deal with air pollution consequences are not the ones who cause the damage. In the U.S., high poverty areas endure disproportionally higher health and economic impacts of air pollution. Furthermore, according to this same article by Yale University, a recent study found that non-Hispanic whites breathe in around 17% less air pollution than they cause by their own consumption, while black and Hispanic people inhale more than 50% more pollution than is generated by their actions.

While some continue to debate the greenhouse effect, few can deny the importance of saving American lives – and lungs. Our teachers should keep Californian families and our future safe by making sure to have their powerful pension fund divest from fossil fuels and invest in ethical energy industries such as renewables.

For information on the financial consequences of investing in fossil fuels, click here.