June 19, 2017
Dear New England Aquarium Board of Trustees,
Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently, both domestically and globally. Those impacts will devastate oceans and wildlife, and will have disproportionate effects on already vulnerable black, brown, and low-income communities.
The New England Aquarium acknowledges the scientific consensus that global warming will continue to intensify and that burning even half of global fossil-fuel reserves would dangerously warm the planet for several thousand years (1). As an institution that fosters “global change through public engagement [and] commitment to marine animal conservation,” the New England Aquarium can lead in the fight against climate change by becoming the first aquarium in the world to divest from fossil fuels (2). We see the aquarium as having an incredible opportunity to challenge climate change’s main perpetrators financially, ethically, and morally.
The fossil fuel industry especially harms black, brown, and low income people, who are an integral part of the aquarium’s diverse audience and staff. Among other abhorrent impacts caused by fossil fuel infrastructure, black and brown people suffer from greater exposure to polluted air and toxic waste sites than white people (3). Scientists are also projecting an increase in natural disasters due to greenhouse gas emission (4). As observed during Hurricane Katrina, such events will continue to harm already disadvantaged communities of color (5).
As passionate supporters of the New England Aquarium, we ask that you do the following: immediately freeze any new investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves, divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds, and reinvest that money in a socially responsible way.
We are appreciative that as a well-respected institution, the New England Aquarium acknowledges the effects of fossil fuels on the environment and emphasizes the importance of protecting our oceans and marine wildlife. By joining the divestment movement, the aquarium can continue to be a role model for other institutions that are committed to serving the public and the environment.
Patrons of the New England Aquarium
1. McKibben, Bill. "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math." Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012. Web. 12 June 2017.
2. "Mission and Vision." New England Aquarium. New England Aquarium, 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
3. Colon, Jaques. "Report Shows Disproportionate Number of Children of Color in Washington State's Child Welfare System." PsycEXTRA Dataset (2016): The Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change on Communities of Color In Washington State. Front and Centered, 20 July 2016. Web. 12 June 2017.
4. "The Consequences of Climate Change." Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of The Planet. Ed. Holly Shaftel. NASA, n.d. Web. 16 June 2017.
5. Rivlin, Gary et al. "White New Orleans Has Recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Black New Orleans Has Not." Talk Poverty. N.p., 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.