The Cornell Daily Sun’s latest staff editorial, “Failing Shared Governance”, calls on the Cornell’s Board of Trustees to divest the university’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.
The piece is in reaction to the board’s recent decision not to divest and its creation of new standards whereby the board will only vote to divest the endowment from companies whose actions are “morally reprehensible”.
An excerpt from the editorial:
“However, we believe that by all standards, the fossil fuels industry meets the Board’s requirements for divestment. The way the actions of fossil fuel giants contribute to the consistent rise in global temperature is ‘morally reprehensible.’
While the divestment of money itself may or may not make a have a major impact on the financial well-being of the industry, the message of a major university taking a stand certainly sends a strong moral directive that could have a ‘major impact in correcting wrongs.’ These negative aspects, we believe, deviate from the principles of the University.”
But, for all its grandstanding, the editorial makes no mention of the Sun’s intention to cut back on the 300,000 newspapers per semester it prints.
The Sun’s print circulation, according to the its website, is 4,000 copies. This amounts to 20,000 newspapers per week (no weekend editions), or 300,000 per semester with 15 weeks in a semester. Taking 7 to be the average number of newsprint pages per issue, this amounts to 2,100,000 pieces of 23″ by 17″ newsprint per semester, or over 11,400,000 square feet of newsprint per year.
That’s enough to cover nearly 200 football fields.
Just how much energy is consumed every year to produce the Cornell Sun’s newspapers? Such a calculation would start with oil consumed by machines clearcutting forests, oil consumed by trucks transporting fallen trees to paper manufacturers, electricity (coal or natural gas) consumed in the highly energy-intensive pulping process, oil consumed by trucks transporting newsprint to the Sun’s printer, electricity consumed by the Cornell Sun office’s computers, electricity consumed by printing machines, and more oil consumed by cars distributing the finished newspapers across Ithaca. Additionally, there is all the energy consumption involved with the production, transportation, and usage of ink.
Given this enormous usage of fossil fuel energy, how can the Cornell Sun call on the university to divest its endowment from the very same fossil fuel companies their production process relies on—the companies whom the Sun calls “morally reprehensible”?
Where is, in the very least, the effort on the Sun’s part to become more “eco-friendly” or “go green” and cut back on its fossil fuel consumption?
This is a textbook case of hypocrisy, classic do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do elitism.