Natalie Portman, Darren Aronofsky urge Harvard to divest from fossil fuels

Natalie Portman, Darren Aronofsky urge Harvard to divest from fossil fuels
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A group of high-profile Harvard alumni pressed their alma mater to divest from fossil fuels on Friday.

Actress Natalie Portman and director Darren Aronofsky signed a letter Friday urging the university and others to "fight against global warming" and "help students press our alma mater to divest its stock in the fossil fuel industry."

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The letter states that alumni like 350.org's founder Bill McKibben and Professor Cornel West will join a teach-in on April 12 and a rally on April 13 at Harvard to push for divestment. 

"Divestment is effective," the letter states.  

"While we can’t bankrupt the oil companies, we can start to politically bankrupt them, complicating their ability to dominate our political life. This fossil fuel divestment campaign — according to an Oxford study the fastest growing such campaign in history — has already helped persuade one of the nation’s largest utilities to turn to renewables," the letter adds.

The divestment movement has picked up steam in recent months with a stronger push from greens and activists staging protests at various universities across the country to pressure trustees and school presidents. 

The high-profile signers make the case that Harvard "can meet its scientific and moral obligation without financial risk." 

The letter comes on the heels of the divestment event held this week. 

Opponents of the divestment movement took issue with the letter, arguing it "won't work."

"As numerous professors, think tanks and economic studies have made clear, the divestment campaign would be all cost to the schools and their students for no climate gain," said Matt Dempsey, spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Opponents sent a letter of their own this week arguing that continued "engagement with the energy sector on these critical issues represents a far better and more practical approach than a policy of exclusion and isolation."

The letter, sent to school administrators, presidents and board members, was signed by various professors of law, engineering, business, and more from universities across the U.S.