LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fossil fuel disconnect

To the editor,

Thanks are due to the University Times for covering the Nov. 19 forum on how Pitt’s endowment should be invested, and I was happy to be quoted. 

However, the article missed an important point made by several other speakers there who are scientists. Pitt has invested millions in research on climate change, mostly through the Climate and Global Change Center. Chancellor Gallagher himself wrote an article in Science in which he urged that the United States should be “increasing its investments in climate- and energy-related research and supporting the most innovative companies,” and Pitt is doing this. At the same time, its endowment strategy is betting on the other side, that the fossil fuel companies will continue to make money indefinitely as they destroy the livability of the Earth.

Professor Robert Nishikawa of the Department of Radiology, among others, commented on this disconnect. He said, “Given the research that the University has invested in, it seems totally incongruent for the University to support the fossil fuel industry either directly or indirectly through our endowment. Either the University believes the research that it produces, and it acts accordingly, or they should ask themselves, why did they invest millions of dollars in research, just to ignore it.” 

I did not previously know about the Climate and Global Change Center and am glad to learn about it. But it certainly adds a layer of irony to Pitt’s current endowment investment policy.   


Marianne Novy
​​​​​​​Professor emerita of English