February 17, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Climate Justice Cornell Responds to Criticism

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To the editor:

Climate Justice Cornell is, fundamentally, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness and action to the intertwined atrocities of injustice and climate change.

An effective solution to climate change, in our view, must enact social justice in tandem with lowering carbon emissions and adapting to climate change’s impacts. Otherwise, adaptation to climate change will further exacerbate exploitation and inequality in our economy. (People who would like a further explanation can email [email protected] for reading recommendations or come to our meetings on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. in Morrill 107.)

Furthermore, science cannot tell us on its own how to act on climate change. Science can give us ideas of what the world might look like, but why do we truly care if people suffer or species go extinct? Because of our ethics, not our atmospheric models. Reflections on our philosophies and values are critical, and acting in accordance with them is imperative. Without thinking critically about the ethics and goals of our work, science can lead to dangerous theories, like eugenics.

Dialogue has not been an effective strategy thus far in convincing the University to divest. Divestment organizers have had many unsuccessful meetings with senior leadership over the eight years of this campaign. We are happy that the shared governance bodies of the University are taking on divestment, but the final choice on these matters belongs to the Trustees and the President, not the stakeholders. We look forward to meetings in the future in which the University leadership is willing to discuss how Cornell’s endowment will be divested and reinvested. Until then, we will take inspiration from our strong campus tradition in student activist campaigns.

Politics and values differ. We collaborate because these are ours. We continually reflect on and refine them, but one thing is certain: Climate change is a social justice issue.

Katie Sims ’20

Angeliki Cintron ’22 

Nick Sutera ’22

Gabriel Ewig ’23

Magda Kossowska ’23

Avery MacLean ’23