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Markey discusses a green revolution

Published: April 18, 2008
Section: Front Page


Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey, Chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, spoke on Sunday afternoon about Congress’s efforts to address climate change and the need to go green.

Following the lecture in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, a panel of environmental entrepreneurs discussed the profitability of a green revolution. This was the main event of Earthfest 2008.

“It all began right here in Waltham 200 years ago when Charles Cabot Lowell and James Moody invented, for the first time, a way of putting cloth together in one place,” began Markey, following an introduction by President Jehuda Reinharz.

He continued, “when that industrial revolution began, there were 280 parts per million of CO2 up in the atmosphere. 200 years later there are 380 parts per million up in the atmosphere.”

He explained the problems that have already begun to occur as a result of climate change. “Lakes are being formed because it’s so warm up in Greenland. The water is now so warm…that over the course of the summer they create crevices that burrow all the way down the ice.” Markey also noted ice quakes that measure up to 4-5 on the Richter scale as signs of increasing instability.

According to Markey, the private sector will present a huge challenge to the fight against global warming, as companies will be reluctant to take the steps needed to address this issue.

He applauded the efforts of Wal-mart, who planned to sell 100 million fluorescent light bulbs, in convincing General Electric to increase their production of more efficient bulbs. In addition, he condemned automobile companies like Toyota for their unwillingness to adapt to the growing crisis.

Markey pointed out the responsibility of Americans to fight climate change, since “most of the CO2 is red, white, and blue. We’re the ones putting it up there, along with the Europeans.” Americans must be the first to take action to help all the “poor countries all around the world that don’t have the capacity to adapt to that kind of dramatic change,” he said.

Last December, Congress passed what Markey called “the most important energy legislation in 30 years.”

He discussed how this legislation would help America in fighting global warming, and drew attention specifically to his own amendment, which called for an increase in the fuel economy vehicles of cars driven in the United States from 25 to 35 miles per gallon. A requirement to increase fuel economy has not occurred, according to Markey, since 1975.

Markey went on to discuss how the current generation should address this issue. In regard to the private sector, he stated, “the only reason they’re not changing is because they don’t think they have to.”

He further discussed the smaller contributions people could make by turning off their computers and electronics at night, buying hybrid cars, and buying energy efficient products. “You have to change the way in which people think about the issues so that an investment is not a deficit, but something you gain back.”

“There’s a new energy revolution, a green revolution, a green industrial revolution. That’s going to be what the 21st century is known for,” said Markey in closing. He continued, “This is your generation’s great opportunity to have the defining moment when you have the answerable courage to use your skills…to make a difference.”

The panel, which followed Markey’s lecture, featured President and Founder of Solar Design Associates Steven Strong, and Director of Institutional Greening Programs for the NGO Green Seal Mark Rentschler.

Both Strong and Rentschler discussed their companies’ actions toward fighting climate change, and the role that NGOs will play in the green revolution.

Students who attended the lecture seemed pleased with Markey’s comments. Susan Paykin ’11 remarked, “Congressman Markey’s address was definitely inspiring. It’s exciting and reassuring to know that there are representatives in the government who strongly advocate for confronting the issue of climate change, and especially emphasize the need for investment in alternative energy sources.”

Sahar Massachi ’11, however, disagreed with some of Markey’s comments. He stated, “While I respect Ed Markey, I was very shocked when he bragged about behind a force behind the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The 1996 Telco act decreased competition, increased consolidation of media outlets, and was, at its core, a raid on government coffers by a few big Telco companies. I’m very upset that Markey is proud of this egregious example of corporate welfare.”

Even so, Massachi agreed with Markey’s position on the environment. “I applaud his realization that we can grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Furthermore, his characterization of India and China, and how we had to tell them to stop polluting carbon from a position of having done so already, was spot on,” he commented.