MIT faculty members explain why they are dissatisfied with MIT’s Climate Action Plan…

I am greatly disturbed that MIT would ignore the advice of its own committee–the one appointed by the president to advise him on how we should address climate change. That committee unanimously recommended the establishment of an Ethics Advisory Council, and yet the president’s plan completely ignores this advice. It seems to be particularly important that we establish such a council given that, as an institution, we have such close ties with industries whose motives and actions may not be in line with MIT’s commitment to scientific integrity, technological innovation, and facing (rather than denying) the greatest challenges facing our world.

Marah Gubar

Associate Professor, Department of Literature

I am deeply frustrated by MIT’s response to the recommendations of its own committee on climate change. Divestment is an economically, ethically, and politically justified response to corporations whose business plan depends on misinformation about the science of global warming and on the extraction and use of fossil fuels to the point of irreparable catastrophe. I am even more frustrated by MIT’s failure to establish an Ethics Advisory Council, despite the unanimous recommendation of the committee. If divestment is a complicated issue, refusing to think about it, and about alternative strategies, is not the right response. MIT should reverse course and take a leadership role in addressing perhaps the most difficult and most urgent ethical challenge we face.

Kieran Setiya

Professor, Department of Linguistics & Philosophy

“MIT to fight climate change by investing in fossil fuels.”
I, and a lot of other faculty are very disappointed, especially given Stanford’s position.

Jean E. Jackson

Professor Emeritus; MacVicar Faculty Fellow, Anthropology Program

There is an old saying “if you aren’t part of the solution, than you are part of the problem.” MIT has just shown , dramatically , that MIT is a big part of the problem. This is not only immoral, it is imprudent. Assuming that eventually the self interest in the human desire to not destroy our planet will prevail, and the much of the carbon will need to stay in the ground, dramatically reducing the value of the funds that MIT has foolishly bet on the carbon industry’s capacity to beat the interests of the human race.

Moreover the implications of research continuing to be for sale at MIT are horrible. The disgraceful history of lead additives, where industry financed bogus”research” to create a fiction that lead is not harmful has been replicated by tobacco and big oil. A serious academic institution would want to distance itself from that abuse of science. MIT is choosing to cheapen the reputation of the institute , in exchange for…?

I thought that the middle ground of divesting from the “dirtiest oil and tar sands” was a reasonable approach that could lead to a fully responsible position of full divestment, and at least separate from the most irresponsible part of the petroleum industry. It is tragic that MIT is hiding on this issue. It is ironic to see that the church that burned Giordano Bruno at the stake, and imprisoned Galileo has seen the light, and MIT has not. Good for the Pope.

Fred Salvucci

Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

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