Guest post written by Tyler Hall. Tyler is a freshman mechanical engineering student at Northeastern University, and is interested in pursuing a career in renewable energy. He is a member of the Husky Environmental Action Team (HEAT) and the DivestNU committee, and plans to minor in environmental studies. You can connect with Divest NU on Facebook here.

DivestNU is at a really exciting point in our campaign at Northeastern. After having Bill McKibben come speak on campus last semester and going to the Forward on Climate rally together in February, things are starting to get off the ground. We’ve sent a letter to the University President and administration requesting divestment, we’re planning an awesome rally for the fall, and we just had this great opportunity to present to the community about our campaign.

Every semester, Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs holds an Open Classroom—a weekly series of distinguished speakers that is free and open to the public. The theme for this semester’s class was “Climate Change. Challenges. Solutions.” Usually the speakers are professors from Northeastern or another school, or industry experts. All are doing outstanding work to educate people about the magnitude of the problem, research new technologies, and implement the available solutions. These thought-provoking speakers left the attendees itching to act. This is where the course fell short, and where divestment stepped in.

The great thing about divestment is that everybody can get involved. We can effect change at the local level and see the implications ripple through this huge and beautiful movement across the country. The idea behind divestment is so simple, yet so powerful and infectious: that schools who extol their commitments to sustainability and ethical behavior should not profit from the destruction of the planet.

Presenting to an audience that was largely uninformed about divestment, I needed to make this message clear. I wanted to make it as academic as possible, to fill it with as much evidence as I could to convince people that fossil fuel divestment is a completely logical course of action. Most importantly, I needed to show them that climate change isn’t just about ecological ruin and widespread suffering—it’s about what people can accomplish when they come together to stop these things from happening.

I am optimistic about divestment. Through putting this presentation together I’ve seen that many faculty and community members embrace the campaign—after all, they let me become the first student presenter in the five-year history of the Open Classroom. For me divestment is not a question of if, but of when. The fact is that physics, chemistry, and the climate are on our side. As students ramp up their campaigns across the country, the climate will, for better or for worse, do just the same. Superstorms like Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Nemo can wreak havoc and rouse people on a level that even the most tenacious student campaigns will never achieve. That is why I have confidence in divestment, because in the long term, fossil fuel companies are more than just a bad investment—they are the worst investment in the history of investment.