On June 20, the Cornell Borehole Observatory began drilling into the Earth. Their goal is to reach a deep depth where there is natural heat sufficient to heat all of campus.
With a limited supply of fossil fuels, the University has explored alternative energy options. In 2009, the University set its sights on using Earth Source Heat, a sustainable type of geothermal heat that rests deep underground, to heat the campus.
The McLaskey Research Group, led by Prof. Gregory McLaskey, civil and environmental engineering, has made a breakthrough in the study of earthquakes by experimentally showing that the fracture energy and breakdown energy of earthquakes are not equivalent.
The moral case for Cornell divesting from fossil fuels has long been clear. Simply put, the University should not hold equity in resource extraction firms that have sent the planet hurtling toward climate ruin. An overwhelming body of science tells us the fallout of human-caused climate change will come in the form of severe developing-world food insecurity, more frequent extreme weather events and worse economic growth. Projections indicate death, disease, dislocation and malnutrition will sharply rise, especially for the global poor. The cost in human misery will be enormous.
Most classes at Cornell end by 4:30 p.m., but the lights in academic buildings sometimes stay on until midnight, even when not in use — potentially costing the university up to $60,000 each year, a 2010 report found. Several efforts have been taken to alleviate the electricity waste.
Built in 1904 in the Fall Creek gorge, Cornell’s first hydroelectric plant served to provide renewable energy to Ithaca’s campus. More than 120 years later, the plant generates only two percent of Cornell’s total electricity, according to Sarah Zemanick, director of campus sustainability office.
Environmentalists really seem to get a bad rap. I’m not talking about eco-terrorism or the occasional highly offensive PETA advertisement — I’m talking about image. No matter who you talk to, liberal or conservative, their idea of an environmentalist always seems to be the peace-sign-throwing, carrot-munching, Yusef-Islam-AKA-Cat-Stevens-looking hippie. I suppose it’s partly our fault; after all, I do have a few tie dyes kicking around in my closet. But generally speaking it’s always the same story: someone brings up clean energy, and the politicians and public roll eyes because another old beatnik took a moment between blunt hits to talk about how we’re all connected to nature.