For the second time this semester, student groups will hold a strike for climate justice. Students will march at 11:30 a.m. this Friday on Ho Plaza in a display of frustration at what they see as the insufficient actions of leaders in the face of climate change.
Conversations about climate change were occurring around the world with former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. Over 1,600 lectures on the “24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action” were presented in communities last week to have a personalized approach in having conversations about the Earth’s future. Hosted at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Thomas J. Hirasuna Ph.D. ’91, a volunteer climate leader for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, presented the lecture for the Ithaca community. Personally trained by Al Gore and a trained engineer, Hirasuna hopes to spread climate change awareness and prompt the Ithaca community to take action. Hirasuna notes that the average global temperature has been increasing to alarming records.
“We are looking at significant forces on the planet right now that we have so successfully managed to partition off into a terrifying yet distant future. Stories bring them into the ongoing present, forcing us to collectively engage in future thinking,” Banerjee said.
For the uninitiated, EAS 1540: Introduction to Oceanography is Prof. Bruce Monger’s, earth and atmospheric sciences, 1000-level introductory science course of over a thousand students, #8 on Cornell’s 161 and an easy A for the scientifically challenged trying to fulfill distribution requirements. No one takes Oceans as a senior because their career path took a turn for the nautical or because of a deep, latent love for the sea, especially not an ILRie who barely survived high school biology. So how did I find myself doing Oceans homework on a Friday night, crying about the environment? My first semester at Cornell, I joined the University Assembly, where I sat next to Prof. Robert Howarth, ecology and evolutionary biology. To freshman Sarah, this was nothing short of insane, because I had cited his research on methane in a high school debate case just a few months prior, and now we were discussing the implications of Cornell’s 2035 Climate Neutrality Plan.
Although mention of the word “vegan” can bring up disturbing images of proselytizing protestors armed with signs and graphic visuals of animal cruelty, people often overlook the environmental impacts of reducing their consumption of animal products. Prof. David Wolfe, plant science, revealed his insight on the crippling carbon footprint of the meat industry, and what a plant-based diet would entail for the environment. “A lot of the major meat producers in this country are coming from fairly large operations and corporate farms [where] the carbon footprint is quite a bit higher,” Wolfe said. “The animals are all confined in one place — it could be very far away from where the crops are grown and are then transported to feed the animals.”
According to Wolfe, the excessive amounts of fossil fuels utilized in the production and transport of these crops alone have a significant environmental impact. Ruminant animals, like cattle, have the added detriment of methanogens — microbes required for digestion that release methane, a notorious greenhouse gas.
“The US should be leading the way for the rest of the world but the administration in Washington is taking us in the opposite direction. It’s an affront to science and to common sense,” said Prof. Michael Hoffmann, entomology, is the Executive Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions.
Republican former presidential hopeful and governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker emphasized the “difference between socialism and freedom” in a speech to an ideologically mixed audience on Monday that highlighted his conservative record and high-profile battles against unions.
A miniature version of its national namesake, Ithaca’s plan aims to create 100% renewable electricity by 2025 and reduce emissions from the municipal vehicle fleet by 50% by 2025 with the ultimate goal of “achiev[ing] carbon-neutrality community-wide by 2030.”
Hundreds of Cornellians and millions of young people worldwide walked out of school or work on Friday, Sept. 20 to protest government inaction toward climate change and demand divestment from fossil fuels. The case for divestment has never been stronger: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded last year that a radical transition away from fossil fuels in just over a decade is necessary in order to avoid irreversible disaster. Yet inaction is precisely the strategy of Cornell’s Board of Trustees and President Martha Pollack, defying the wishes of the Student Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Faculty Senate. The Board of Trustees states that it will divest only in the case of “morally reprehensible” activity in which “the company in question contributes to harm so grave that it would be inconsistent with the goals and principles of the University,” as if an existential threat to human civilization in the near future is not morally reprehensible.
I collapsed into a chair in Libe with my third coffee of the day in hand. It was a typical college experience: running on little to no sleep for the third night in a row, desperately trying to cling on to every single neuron as I tried to finish everything before I lost another night of sleep. As I let out a long sigh, my friend shot daggers at me with her eyes. “What?” I asked, not entirely hiding my exasperation. “This is the second plastic straw you used today,” she replied, angry at my apparent lack of environmentalist fervor.