LTE in the VSU newspaper, The Spectator, today. -jsq
To the Editor,
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that humans are the cause. S.A.V.E. believes that it’s time for people to become the solution. Globally, we are feeling the impacts of record-setting temperatures, most notably in the extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels. Recent chemical (W.VA) and coal ash spills (N.C.) add to the urgency of moving beyond fossil fuel. Yet here on our campus there’s a remarkable disconnect between the classroom and the board room. Shockingly, the VSU Board of Trustees includes science deniers, oblivious to the threat of climate change—and to the academic integrity of this institution of higher learning.
Recently, the Board dismissed S.A.V.E.’s request that VSU rid its portfolio of fossil fuel holdings. Board Chairman, Wayne Edwards, a financial analyst, cast doubt on the study that accompanied our request. But we ask you, who knows more about climate, a team of 2,000 scientists from 154 countries who have compiled data from more than 9,000 studies, or a stock broker? Our point is that serious decisions at this institution are being taken by people who lack the proper credentials.
Chairman Edwards dismissed socially responsible investing as nothing more than a marketing ploy, observing that “Years ago, it was all about alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and apartheid. Now it’s about anthropogenic climate change.” That he regards these issues as little more than slogans demonstrates his contempt for higher learning and critical thinking. After all, it is from VSU’s very own professors—who, by the way, must conduct and publish valid research in order to retain their jobs—that we have learned about the damaging effects of fossil fuels.
For someone supposedly concerned with market ploys, Mr. Edwards fails to recognize the fact that millions of dollars are poured into the “climate denial industry” every yeal. Koch Industries alone has poured $67 million dollars into think tanks and organizations that actively work to propagate a false global warming counter-narrative. That the Koch’s marketing ploy is effective is reflected in the fact that only 57% of Americans recognize that global warming is caused by human activity, a 40% difference from the scientific community.
As many readers know, VSU has begun to utilize solar power to meet its energy needs. Our school is also one of 679 signatories of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment which reads in part,“We recognize the scientific consensus that global warming is real and is largely being caused by humans.”
But this commitment does not align with the position held by Wayne Edwards and the Board of Trustees. Divesting from fossil fuel companies is the next step in the institution’s pursuit of its stated values.