February 16, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Fossil Fuel Divestment Protesters Block Tower Road and East Avenue Intersection’

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To the Editor:

The Faculty Senate has been debating Fossil Fuel Divestment, with a resolution posted online on Jan. 8. I admire freedom of speech and civil disobedience, as they are critical to democracy, but I believe a constructive dialogue would serve Climate Justice Cornell better. Their concerns have been heard by the administration.

I also question the motives behind Thursday’s protest. According to Climate Justice Cornell’s own Instagram story, “divestment is about attacking the underlying causes of climate change: capitalism and colonialism.” As a scientist, I believe climate action must be narrowly focused on keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. Harnessing the power of industry will allow this goal to come to fruition much quicker. I respect the social justice goals of Climate Justice Cornell, but I do not believe these goals should shape the debate on climate action. Only science should have that power.

I wrote in an op-ed last December that “by tying climate action to a broader range of progressive social justice issues, organizers are continuing down the dangerous road of making climate action a partisan issue.” Climate change is one of the most important issues of our generation, and a solution requires unity across the political spectrum.


Aidan Mahoney ’22