As a growing and significant part of DivestIC’s coalition of Ithaca College community members, we recognize that our university’s alumni have invaluable experiential knowledge and unmatched influence in terms of our administration. Julianne Lutz Warren, Class of 1988, has written an alumni coalition letter onto which all Ithaca College graduates are encouraged to sign. Please see the letter and offer your support below.
6 January 2013
Dear President Thomas Rochon and the Ithaca College Board of Trustees,
We—Alumni for Divest IC—in gratitude for our own educations and the good lives we’ve been at liberty to lead, support the healthiest-possible future for our esteemed alma mater’s present and following generations of students. This means doing something that, frankly, morally and prudentially, we dare not postpone. We, members of the most globe-changing society on Earth, must stop activities that will further warm our planet. Those who step up now to lead the way will be acting heroically. Why not IC?
Today’s IC students were born into a civilization whose adults knew what was going on. U.S. policymakers and the public have known for decades that our extreme land-use changes; including burning oil, gas, and coal as fuel, have been rapidly adding greenhouse gases to Earth’s atmosphere, thus trapping heat that would otherwise have radiated back out to space. Already, this has created a planetary atmosphere containing more carbon dioxide than ever before in the history of our species, and, so far, around a 1 degree Celsius rise in global surface temperatures since industrialization. Already we have passed into newly-challenging Earth conditions with increasing likelihoods of events such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy and the deepest homeland drought of our lifetimes, happening now, centered in the middle of the wide belly of America. The Arctic is melting. Moreover, people in “developing” nations across the world, who have contributed little to climate change, are suffering most acutely from increasing floods, droughts, rising sea levels, and losses of biodiversity along with soil fertility and health. Such conditions are likely to get rapidly more dramatic, all the more, if we continue to burn fossils out of the depths of Earth into the air.
Since political change in the U.S. requires going up against powerful special-interests, it tends to happen relatively slowly. On the other hand, physics pays no attention to political interests, and climate change is happening, encompassing everyone, now and fast. A 2012 World Bank Report warns that the planet is on a path to heat up a catastrophic 4 degrees by the end of this century if we fail to veer onto healthier courses swiftly. We can’t wait for politics-as-usual to bar fossil-fuel lobbies from buying national integrity at the expense of Earth’s health. If we stand by passively, allowing the fossil fuel industry to burn even 1/5 of what they have in their declared reserves, we will be, in the words of top climatologist James Hansen, complicit in producing a “long-term disaster” for much of Earth’s life and the bright promise of IC’s current students, alumni-to-be, and everyone else (see: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719).
With the aim of protecting the planet’s health and IC’s students’ futures, we—Alumni for Divest IC—are forming a coalition in support of the student-led IC Divest movement to go fossil free, which is gaining momentum in concert with over one hundred other institutions (http://gofossilfree.org/). You have already met students who have proposed to you the following urgent steps for Ithaca College, which we also endorse:
1) Freeze any new investments in the fossil-fuel industry immediately.
2) Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 or fewer years.
3) Establish a task force for socially responsible investment, promoting Earth’s health and the local economy.
We will do what it takes to help bring this plan about. Ithaca College students and alumni are rich in imagination and ambition. In our ranks are actors, musicians, news reporters, media specialists of all types, writers, historians, social workers, architects, landscape planners, scientists, lawyers, and others—many people whose reputations already give them profound influence in the world.
We all know this is a David and Goliath situation: the People v fossil-fuels. Most of us also know who won in that story. In any case, there are some things we must do simply because they are right. Why not just do the right thing right away? Please make Ithaca College a leader in the heroic act of going fossil free.
Alumni for Divest IC