March 21, 2023

LETTER TO EDITOR | Re: “Climate Scientists Debate Emissions Reduction in a Free Speech Event”

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To the editor:

We would like to thank the Cornell community for welcoming our debate on climate science and greenhouse gas emissions this past week. We appreciate the coverage by Sun reporters Sofia Rubinson and Eric Reilly but would like to clarify a few points made in their article.

The pre- and post-debate audience poll results were displayed on a large screen on stage in Call Auditorium during the event but did not yet include the number of polling participants. The final poll results, including number of polling participants, may be viewed at

Despite widespread outreach and promotion in the weeks leading up to the debate, student turnout was disappointing. The article implied that the event was marketed only to Steamboat Institute’s email list, which is not accurate. We contacted many groups and academic departments by email, social media and personal visits, even providing flyers for these groups to post. These groups and departments included: 

  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, Biological Sciences
  • Biology & Society
  • Biological and Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Boyce Thompson Institute
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Natural Resources
  • Physics
  • Cornell Botanic Gardens
  • Laboratory of Ornithology
  • Environmental Law Society

The debate was also posted on the Cornell Events calendar.

We also contacted the following student groups at Cornell: Cornell Libertarians, Turning Point USA, Alexander Hamilton Society, College Republicans, College Democrats, Cornell Review, Independent Freedom Caucus, Debate in Science and Health, Cornell Speech and Debate, Nature Society, Ecology House, Cornell Roosevelt Institute, Green Club, Society for Natural Resource Conservation, Campus Sustainability Office, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Epsilon Eta, Environmental Law Society, Climate Justice Cornell and Cornell Advancing Science and Policy.

The full debate video is available on Steamboat Institute’s YouTube channel. 

We applaud Dr. Steven Koonin of New York University and Dr. Robert Socolow of Princeton for participating in this important discussion. We will continue to give both sides of critical issues a fair and balanced platform to make their cases — we can’t maintain our democratic republic without citizens and leaders capable of civilized debate and critical thinking.

Jennifer Schubert-Akin

Co-founder, Chairman and CEO

The Steamboat Institute

Randy Wayne

Associate Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science

Cornell University

Steve Baginski

Cornell Free Speech Alliance

B.S., Cornell University, 1980

MBA, Finance, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, 1984