The Corner

College Fossil-Fuel Divestment

The campaign to have college endowments divest their holdings in fossil-fuel companies is set to be the next big thing among the nation’s young. The public hasn’t yet noticed, but the divestment movement has spread to 256 campuses in just the past few months. Tactics, including hunger strikes, sit-ins, and building seizures are being debated right now. An overwhelming student-body vote in favor of divestment at Harvard last November gave the movement its momentum.

When they learn of it, conservatives sometimes roll their eyes at the apparent futility of this movement. After all, selling off profitable holdings in fossil-fuel companies is only likely to hurt endowments and leave oil producers unharmed, as the stocks are snapped up by other buyers. Yet the goal here is to render fossil-fuel companies as odious as South African apartheid, which was targeted by a similar movement in the 1980s. The strategy isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. More important, whatever the narrow outcome of the campaign, fossil-fuel divestment is turning the millennial generation against America’s free-enterprise system, and in fact is designed to do so. The political implications of that are very real.

Today, the first of my three-part series on the campus fossil-fuel divestment movement is on the homepage here at NRO. Today’s piece looks at the course of the movement to date. In the second installment, I’ll examine the ideology of the divestment campaign’s key sponsors, Bill McKibben, leader of the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, and Naomi Klein, who’s work helped inspire the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many of the students enrolled in the divestment movement don’t quite understand where McKibben and Klein hope to take them. Their partnership is an effort to forge an alliance between environmentalists and Occupy Wall Street, reshaping the American left. The third installment will be a case-study of the divestment debate at Harvard, where that student referendum turbo-charged the national campaign.

We’re likely to be hearing about the campus fossil-fuel divestment for months or even years to come. I hope to tell you what they’d rather you not know.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Elections

What Do Republican Voters Want?

The latest entry in the post-Trump conservatism sweepstakes was Marco Rubio’s speech at the Catholic University of America in early November. The Florida senator made the case for a “common-good capitalism” that looks on markets in the light of Catholic social thought. “We must remember that our nation ... Read More
Books

The Houellebecqian Moment

We are living in the imagination of Michel Houellebecq. The bête noire of French literature has spent decades deploring the erosion of Western mores that he believes resulted from the sexual revolution of the 1960s. His last novel, Submission, revolved around the election of a theocratic Muslim to the French ... Read More
Culture

‘Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself’

It was just one more segment to fill out the hour, and thereby fill the long 24 hours of Saturday’s cable news on November 2. Or so it seemed. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland was on the Fox News program Watters World to talk to Jesse Watters about trained German shepherds like the one used in the raid that found ... Read More
World

Israel’s New Way of War

Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police ... Read More