Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 05:11 am est

NYU must divest

Posted on February 8, 2013 | by Jaime Mishkin

This past Tuesday, leading environmentalist Bill McKibben stood before a crowd of 600 people at Cooper Union’s Grand Hall, urging them to confront universities about divesting from fossil fuel companies. His organization, 350.org, is devoted to finding tangible, strategic and systematic ways to restrict the powers of big oil companies from perpetuating the grave problem of climate change.

Young high school students, New York City college students and doctoral students filled the room. There were baby boomers, too. Even their parents were there. Everyone sat wide-eyed and hopeful ­— hopeful, but scared.

Scared because the facts about climate change are indisputable; scared because humans have had the power to alter Earth’s atmosphere; scared that we have melted the arctic; scared that our oceans are made up of 30 percent more acid; scared that our air holds more vapor than ever; scared that this year, our hottest year ever, has broken the record by one whole degree.

McKibben presented three numbers to the audience on Tuesday. These numbers come from his Rolling Stone article from this past July, which became the basis for his Do The Math campaign that toured the country last fall. They are as follows:

2: Officials at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference deemed that 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, is the limit that our global temperature can rise without creating an uninhabitable environment. Scientists, on the other hand, say this is an exaggeration.

565: 565 gigatons of carbon are allowed to burn by the year 2050 in order to stay under the 2-degree limit.

2,795: Fossil fuel companies have 2,795 gigatons of carbon underground, ready to be burned at their discretion. McKibben said this is roughly five times the aforementioned limit. These gigatons are worth about $27 trillion.

This final point is jarring. According to McKibben, if we do not stop this, we are looking at a 4 to 5 degree Celsius rise this century. If you are scared, you should be. But remember: If we have the power to destroy our Earth, we also have the power to fix it.

At NYU and more than 200 universities across the nation, students, faculty and staff have come together to urge the university to invest in sustainable, renewable resources instead of fossil fuels. NYU Divest’s goals, as stated by their website, include “immediately [freezing] any new investment in fossil fuel companies. [And divesting] from the top 200 publicly traded and government owned fossil companies — which hold the vast majority of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves — including direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.” This means that NYU, an institution that boasts fine environmental and sustainability programs, must let go of the investments that contradict any and every green movement it promotes.

With the power of the masses, perhaps we can tighten the reins on these financial leaders. If we can urge our university to withdraw its investments from big oil companies, we have made a step towards progress. Already a handful of schools have divested. If NYU wants to maintain its eco-friendly image and compete as a leading green university, it too must divest. Without our Earth, what value is our education after all? As students, we must realize that our Earth comes first. This is not just another passing green fad. This is a fact. This is math.

Jaime Mishkin is a contributing columnist. Email her at opinion@nyunews.com. 

Comments

CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

And in case you were wondering how great she really is — “I just can’t get enough of Tatiana” is a direct quote from her EIC at WSN only moments ago.

AS
Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.

 

DY
Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

CLOSE [x]
  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    NEWS FEATURES MULTIMEDIA SPORTS ARTS OPINION
    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.

    Next