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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA Change: Join the movement

Published: September 17, 2010
Section: Opinions


To be alive in the year 2010 is to carry an enormous burden. We have been born, due to no fault of our own, into a historical moment plagued by the external effects of two centuries of industrial development. The actions we take in this decade may well determine the fate of our species and the planet we inhabit for the rest of history.

Climate change is certainly among the greatest dangers to humanity at present, due not only to the immediacy of the threat, but also to the scope of its impact, particularly among the most vulnerable people in the world. According to a study by high-level US Military personnel, climate change will “exacerbate the problems” of “food, water, shelter and stability,” particularly in the most unstable and poorest regions of the world. Global stability will erode as “food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and populations migrate in search of resources.” The study notes that “climate change also has the potential to create natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today.” Even the rich countries of the global north “may experience increases in immigrants and refugees as drought increases and food production declines” in the global south.

And when the world was hoping for a plan to mitigate the worst of climate change at the Copenhagen conference last year, our own government fervently rejected any binding science-based agreement. Instead it offered a minuscule emissions reduction of 3% below 1990 levels by 2020, even less than the targets of the Kyoto Protocol (which of course we have not ratified). An emissions reduction target based on the goals of 350 ppm of CO2 and less than 2°C temperature increase, what is necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, would require the US to reduce emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (3). Our government is driving the world full speed into the worst possible results of climate change: global instability, mass migration, increased likelihood and severity of natural disasters, decreased food production and increasing desertification in the global south. Of course, we should remember that it is not some alien entity driving the world to devastation, it is us. You and I fund our government to carry out its destructive policies, and we support those policies with our apathy and passivity.

Thankfully, we in Massachusetts are in a unique position of influence. We are among the most progressive states in the country, particularly on the issue of climate change. Based on recent polling, 80% of Massachusetts residents recognize that the earth is warming due to human activity and that there will be very or somewhat serious consequences for the world. 75% of Massachusetts residents believe that the government should limit greenhouse gases from corporations right now, and 85% support giving tax breaks to corporations to produce clean renewable energy.

And that’s where you come in. For the past year I have been working with a statewide coalition of student, religious, and environmental groups to push for 100% clean electricity in Massachusetts by 2020. This coalition is called The Leadership Campaign, and we recognize that our state is in a unique position to affect US policy on emissions reductions. By working at the state-level and demanding the science-based solution of 350 ppm of CO2 and less than 2°C temperature increase, we will lead other states and the federal government to do the same. The Leadership Campaign is already having reverberations across the country, as the Energy Action Coalition, the primary coalition of the climate movement in the US, recently adopted our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2020.

We need to build a powerful mass-based movement for a just and stable future, today. The actions of people like you and I will determine the fate of millions across the world.

Join The Leadership Campaign! We hold meetings with SEA every Wednesday at 9pm in Ridgewood A commons.

Visit for more information.