Letter to the Editor: Solarize the University campus

I encourage University leaders to speed up and expand their plans in accord with the UN’s call for more intensive climate action.

Letter to the Editor

Climate change has become the defining issue of our era. An article this May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting even faster than previously thought, placing coastal communities in peril even sooner than previously understood. This month’s United Nations Climate Action Summit was a call to action in a “race to limit climate change” and to “raise ambition and increase climate action.” One of its focuses was energy transition, mobilizing investments in clean energy transition, including scaling up renewable energy, such as investments in solar projects, and increasing energy efficiency.

As various articles in the Minnesota Daily have documented, the University of Minnesota has undertaken renewable energy projects, including installing solar panels, in its goal of substantially reducing carbon emissions by 2050. Solar arrays are appearing on campus as technological and economic developments have made it more viable. This is good news and speaks to the University’s recognition of the climate problems we face. However, in light of the dawning awareness that the situation is even more grave and urgent than some have thought, doubling, tripling, or quadrupling down on this effort is now warranted. More immediate and sweeping efforts are needed to conserve and transition energy, reveal the University’s bold leadership on this issue, and provide visual reminders to campus residents and visitors of the importance of prudently addressing energy use daily. 

A bird’s-eye view of the University campus reveals there are great opportunities for fuller solarization of the campus. I encourage University leaders to speed up and expand their plans in accord with the UN’s call for more intensive climate action.

William N. Robiner, Ph.D., is the director of Health Psychology and professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota’s Medical School.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.