This guest post was written by guest blogger Spencer Johnson & cross-posted from 350 MA’s Climate Beat.

Massachusetts is on track to become the first state to Divest from Fossil Fuels. Now, of course, with a huge transition like this, there have been questions and arguments from opposers who rely on state pensions and assume that Divestment will present a high-risk situation. Hilariously enough, a study has already been completed by several insurance and investment agencies demonstrating reasons why this is untrue. Feel free to read the whole reports (linked in this post under the words « several » and « stranded assets), but basically, you should know that 60-80% of the reserves of the top 200 fossil fuel companies are « un-burnable. » Because these reserves will become stranded assets, the value of fossil fuel investments will implode and the « carbon bubble » will burst. In addition to those companies and businesses who are touting the feasibility of Divestment, there are individuals in Massachusetts who rely on state pensions who are speaking out supporting Divestment. Their pictures have been provided and sit above their respective blurbs.

Anne Perkins, Director of Homeownership Programs for a Housing Authority in Franklin County, heard about Divestment from Founder Bill McKibben. When asked what she stands to lose from climate change she replied « the earth as we know it. » Further, she spoke about protecting the future of her grandchildren. « their lives are going to be severely affected, » she said. « As are poorer people around the world. »

Darcy Dumont

Darcy DuMont, who taught elementary art to grades K-5 at Holyoke Public Schools takes a similar stance. « I first learned about Divestment from Bill McKibben’s « Do The Math » tour at Amherst College in 2012. The one thing that stuck out to me was when he said ‘Getting arrested is not the end of the world. The end of the world is the end of the world.' » After this event, Darcy was inspired to join a group working to Divest local churches, municipalities, and the state pension plan from fossil fuels. « I absolutely do not want my money in the state pension plan to be invested in fossil fuels, » she says. When we asked Darcy what she will lose from climate change, her response was that her children and grandchildren won’t inherit a habitable earth. « We all stand to lose trees, crops, fish, and infrastructure that we depend on in the Northeast. We stand to lose our health from new mosquito borne diseases coming our way. I stand to lose my home because I live in the flood plain of the Connecticut River. This is the biggest problem humans have ever faced and it’s going to take a lot of pressure on the fossil fuel industry and government to turn this thing around. That’s a scary proposition. We have little time and much divesting to do. »

Rachel Wyon

Rachel Wyon was a public school teacher both Chelsea and Cambridge, MA. She also taught in an adult learning center in Boston, in a teachers training school in Nicaragua, and in a residential school in India. Rachel has seen the problems of climate change firsthand. « I taught 5th grade and at the high school level as a bilingual/ESL teacher. My students were from all parts of the world, many from zones of conflict. Today many of these countries are affected by climate change. » Rachel heard about Divestment from McKibben’s « Do The Math » tour as well and says that now she has been supporting the campaign for State Pension Funds and for her faith community, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, to both divest. « We are all at risk to lose aspects of the beautiful natural environment we love. Living in Cambridge, we can see that with sea level rise and subsequent storm surges, our city and other parts of the Boston area could easily be flooded. Superstorm Sandy was not far from us; New York and New Jersey have suffered greatly. Beyond this geographic area, many parts of the world are already affected by droughts, fires and floods, food and water insecurity, and this will only continue to worsen. My concern is for all people today and for my son who is 30, his future children, and all future generations. I was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. The « eternal snows » of the Himalaya feed the life-giving rivers such as the Ganges. With climate change, the Gangotri glacier which feeds the Ganges is receding at an alarming rate. Over 500 million people are dependent on the Ganges in India and more in Bangladesh. I know that the continuation of business as usual will cause social upheaval for billions of people world wide. We must Divest. »

Lucy Robinson 3

Lucy W. Y. Robinson taught children with special needs for the majority of her working life. She’s been a teacher for over 30 years, also teaching in Vermont and New Jersey. « My students were preschool-age children with special needs, and also peers with regular needs. It was hard work, » Lucy reminisces. In her work as a climate change activist, she, too, heard Bill McKibben speak about divesting from ‘dirty’ energy sources. « His analogy with the anti-apartheid work in South Africa made great sense, so I have been working towards that goal for my family, community, and faith community, » she says. « I have seen the drought in Western Texas, Hurricane Sandy in the New York/New Jersey area, the startlingly fast retreating ice flows in Glacier National Park, and the strangely-warm winters we have had recently here in Massachusetts, so I know that Climate Change is having huge affect on our natural environment. I want to assure that my grandchildren have a world that includes the glorious array of species, climates, and healthy cultures and people all across the world. I worked hard to contribute to our pension fund, and I strongly support divestment in our pension portfolio here in Massachusetts. »

Unlike so much that we hear today about our need to confront the climate crisis, these profiles are not driven by out-of-state, fossil fuel business interests. These people are taking a stand against dirty fossil fuels that are destroying the planet and taking the human race with them. Sea-level rise, contaminated water, filthy air. These are the problems we face. It’s time to pick a side. Schools, municipalities, religious organizations, they’re onboard with Divestment. It’s proven to work, it’s ready to be implemented. Now, the only question to ask is: are you going to stand with the protectors or the polluters? Divest now.