Letter to the Editor: Investment Duties of Trustees
For the editor:
I’m a former editor of The Student Life. First of all, I would like to salute the current editorial management and the important team of TSL. It is a highly professional, thorough and thoughtful journalistic product. TSL has varied in quality over the years and decades since I graduated in 1965. It is now the best it has ever been. Congratulations to all participants !
Second, in response to the current fossil fuel divestiture article, the [Pomona College] The board of trustees has a fiduciary duty to properly manage the college’s endowment, but it also has other obligations, including that of protecting the planet from overheating. If our investment managers cannot find sufficiently high-return investment opportunities other than those based on fossil fuels, they can and should be replaced. The only question for the board should be, “How quickly can we liquidate our fossil fuel positions without otherwise violating our fiduciary responsibilities?”
A related topic of discussion is digital currencies; bitcoin “mining” in 2021 consumed more energy globally than the whole country of Norway. Pomona College should avoid investing in any digital currency, NFT, or other fossil fuel energy-based investment product.
Most bitcoin-like products require proof of high energy usage before a newly mined bitcoin can be validated. It’s destructive to the planet. Some digital currency products are moving to different “proof of work” algorithms, which is the mechanism that most digital currency products use to protect their blockchain network from abuse. These alternative algorithms can reduce the energy cost of a digital currency product by up to 99%.
Pomona can accelerate this movement to save the planet by establishing an investment policy that avoids investing in digital monetary instruments created through the intensive use of fossil fuels.
Lew Phelps PO ’65
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