It’s been an action-packed few weeks! MITACAL members have been active planting seeds of climate consciousness among fellow alums and working with student activists to put climate action front and center for the whole community. Read on to hear more!
Making Connections at the Alumni Leadership Conference
We were inspired to hear from a number of alums who are also motivated to work towards a sustainable energy future and urge MIT to lead the world on that journey. At the same time, the official agenda did not facilitate reaching out to alums with interest in climate issues (or any related affinity groups) and few participants knew about MIT's Climate Change Conversation and its recommendations. As a result, we will reach out to ALC leaders to find innovative ways in 2016 to make climate action the preeminent issue it deserves to be among MIT alumni.
MITACAL’s Open Letter published in The Tech
Just as the Alumni Leadership Conference began, The Tech published an Open Letter from MITACAL asking fellow alumni to embrace the recommendations of the Climate Change Conversation Report and to work to add their own skills and interests to the growing movement for climate change mitigation. As we wrote in the letter, “the time to act is now: the scientific consensus is clear. To stay within the 2 degree centigrade threshold that governments around the world have agreed is necessary, we need to transition towards a clean energy society and cease building new fossil fuel infrastructure by 2017.” Who better to lead such a challenge than MIT alums?
Club of Boston Climate Science Presentation + Conversation
MITACAL member Warren Atkinson worked with the MIT Club of Boston to organize a dinner (at Cuisine En Locale, Somerville) and highly informative presentation from Susan Solomon, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT as well as Environmental Solutions Initiative Interim Director, and a leader of last year’s Climate Change Conversation Committee. Professor Solomon provided scientific information useful for everyone who wants to better understand the dual challenges of the science of climate change, and why international agreement on climate change policy has proven particularly difficult. Prof. Solomon’s succinct and fact-based presentation very effectively conveyed the urgent need for action (check out similar slides here). Over 80 MIT alums and guests—an unusually large turnout—engaged in the ensuing conversations, and appreciated receiving MITACAL’s latest brochure (see here!) and infographic.
Climate Countdown Fires Up MIT for Climate Action
We were proud to co-sponsor the Climate Countdown, a week of inspiring activities around campus to build awareness and momentum around the administration’s response to the Climate Change Conversation Report's recommendations, which is expected within weeks. Some of the events included a workshop on obstacles to climate action, moderated by MITACAL’s Rajesh Kasturirangan, and a screening of the groundbreaking documentary based on Merchants of Doubt, and culminated in a rally with live music and moving speeches by MIT community members (including Rajesh), followed by a march through campus to the Media Lab, near the MIT Corporation’s Annual Meeting. Check out
MITACAL members participated in this year’s Climate CoLab (a project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligencein collaboration with many other organizations) whose goal is to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change. Before heading to presentations and discussions of the finalists’ proposals, we heard opening panelists
While all acknowledged the important role of science and technology in addressing climate change (e.g. viability and safety of new energy sources), all stressed social and political factors as the primary barriers to significant action. These include large subsidies to fossil fuel companies, disproportionate impact on poor nations relative to CO2 contributions, as well as the perception that consequences are so far in the future that politicians cannot be held accountable for them now. As seen in the drop in unit price and growing use of solar, there is a “virtuous cycle” that social activists can reinforce.
As we head into peak season for charitable donations, MITACAL encourages all alums to consider making a donation to MIT via divestfund.org. The Multi-School Divestment Fund collects tax-deductible donations in the name of universities until they divest their endowment.This is a great way to show our loyalty to MIT, while also showing commitment to climate action.
Exxon researchers demonstrated the link between anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions and climate change starting in the late 1970s, but abandoned their efforts in the 80s. By choosing to double down on fossil fuels, Exxon played a major role in leading the world to our current state of political stagnation.
India joined other nations by announcing its pledge for the December UN Climate Meeting. While the commitments from countries around the world inspire optimism, collectively they still fall far short of achieving the emissions reductions required for a truly stable climate future.