Editorial—We support faculty-led carbon neutrality initiative

Sincerely%2C+the+North+Wind+Staff

Sam Rush/NW

North Wind Staff

Currently circulating among students and faculty is a letter addressed to President Fritz Erickson which urges NMU to commit to carbon neutrality by 2030 or 2050. The letter, as of Jan. 22, has so far received signatures from seven institutions, including the North Wind Editorial Board, and nearly 500 student and faculty members. The faculty-driven initiative was written by Dr. Ryan Stock, assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

At the North Wind we feel that aiming for carbon neutrality by a specified date would be a huge step in the right direction for Northern, and would place the university as a strong leader in climate action. Not only would this action demonstrate methods by which other communities and institutions might meet such a goal, but NMU would earn a deserved reputation for being a true leader in climate action. Given the environmental interests of students who are drawn to NMU for the natural beauty surrounding our campus, this would be quite an addition to the institution’s ethos.

The repercussions of climate change are clear. Disastrous loss could plague NMU’s community in the future if those in positions to make a true difference and positively influence others ignore opportunities for action.

Although the letter clearly lays out the environmental and climate-related concerns which make carbon neutrality a must in the coming decades, it should be noted that this letter does not list methods by which NMU might meet the goal of going carbon neutral, and so the responsibility for planning and continuing the conversation will rest with the administration once they have been officially presented with this request from the student and faculty community. 

When the letter is presented to the administration, we hope to see a task-force, commission or other planning body formed to work out the particulars, financial and otherwise, of accomplishing this lofty and highly necessary goal. A section of NMU must be focused on reducing emissions. Fortunately, as an institution of higher education, and with many faculty members supporting the aims of the letter, NMU can draw from a wide range of experts as it creates innovative ways to balance its carbon emissions. The conversation of methods, ideas and innovations must be ongoing.

We also ask, that in assessing actions for the future, NMU must not be timid. The decades between 2030 and 2050 will make an enormous difference for our futures and the futures of our children. Set the goal high, aim for carbon neutrality by 2030. If the goal is high, even imperfection or failure in that goal will be better than inaction.

We encourage NMU administrators, upon receipt of this call to action, to begin with the creation of a clear line of communication with planning groups and interested students and faculty who may be able to assist in accomplishing the goal. Given the fact that NMU is a federally funded educational institution, we acknowledge that finances are always a limiting factor in any new initiative. Yet the importance of this request must not be underestimated.

Carbon neutrality is a brave goal for a situation which becomes more urgent each year. If leadership and the environment are truly important components of NMU’s character, this letter’s requests must be seriously considered.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is an editorial, written by the North Wind Editorial Board in its entirety. It reflects the majority views of the individuals who make up the editorial staff of the North Wind. It is the policy of the Editorial Board not to endorse candidates for any political office, in order to avoid aligning this public forum with particular political organizations.