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Jeff Swensen/The New York Times

March 11, 2019

Prize-Winning Author, Environmentalist, and Journalist Bill McKibben to Give Virtual Lecture at Cornell

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Author and Environmentalist Bill McKibben is set to deliver a lecture, titled “Reversing Course on Climate Change and Divestment: The Middlebury Story,” on March 13 at 7pm in Call Auditorium via Zoom. The event is free and open to the public.

McKibben is an author and environmentalist, best known for his work on The End of Nature. The book is widely regarded as the first book to address climate change when it was published, 30 years ago. Since the publication of The End of Nature, McKibben has served as a consistent voice for environmentalism, writing numerous other books and articles.

McKibben is also the founder of the website 350.org, a grassroots organization that aims to reduce carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million. They aim to meet this goal mainly through divestment in the fossil fuel industry, removing investments in companies that extract fossil fuels.

As the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, McKibben’s efforts were instrumental in the campaign for Middlebury to divest in fossil fuels. Despite hesitance by Middlebury’s trustees, the activism of students and faculty, including McKibben, led to Middlebury’s successful move toward a more clean and sustainable campus.

“Worldwide and across the US, the number of other institutions divesting is just going up exponentially,” said Prof. Robert Howarth, ecology and evolutionary biology. “Divestment has been discussed for quite some time but not actively on campus in the past three plus years.”

It is time for the campus to reintroduce the question of divestment in the fossil fuel industry, and whether it is feasible for the campus. “The University Assembly is not taking a position that we should divest, but as an academic institution we would like to facilitate open discussion on the issues that involved,” Howarth said.

The event is being sponsored by the executive committee in conjunction with the campus infrastructure committee of the University Assembly, as well as several student organizations, including Cornell Environmental Collaborative and Climate Justice Cornell.

The event will begin with a presentation, followed by a question and answer session. Those interested in submitting a question ahead of the event are asked to do so here.