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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

November 5, 2009 - 2:25pm

If you believe Ban Ki Moon, the UN climate summit next month in Copenhagen will be a failure by any rational standard. Oh, he and other politicians will find a way to put a positive spin on things and thereby create the opportunity to declare a limited success. INo doubt, their speech-writers are already drafting a framework for self-congratulatory pronouncements which disguise their irony behind a smile and a statement about how much work there remains to do.

If you believe Angela Merkel (who's not only an international political leader, but also has a doctorate in quantum chemistry), we can't afford for Copenhagen to fail.

If you believe James Hansen, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the Union of Concerned Scientists, or the National Academy of Sciences, or the Royal Society, or the WBGU, or the Science Council of Japan, or the Israeli Presidential Conference, or just about any scientific body of substance, it may already be too late. And if it's not too late now, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

So, what's a self-respecting educator (or educational administrator) or student (or parent of students) to do? How can we encourage or embarrass the "leader of the free world" into actually leading the free world in a positive direction?

There is an answer. Or at least a potential answer. Or at least the hope of an answer.

Remember "hope"? Remember that it's audacious? Remember who told us those things? Maybe it's time to remind that individual of why he was elected. Maybe it's time to stop hiding behind the specter of China, and India, and Harry Reid.

At least, that's what a group of folks -- including raging radicals like Advertising Week, AOL, Business Week, Clear Channel, Coca-Cola, Cosmopolitan, Discovery Channel, Getty, Google, the International Herald Tribune, National Geographic, Newsweek, Ogilvy, SAP, Scientific American, Seventeen, the Economist, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal are saying.

Combining the campaign theme of Hope with the conference site of Copenhagen, these organizations and more have put together a global petition on the web and asked people around the world to sign it during the month leading up to the UN climate conference.

Sign it. Spread the word. Put it on your campus website. Chalk it on your sidewalks. Paint it on that big rock on the quad -- you know, the one that's typically covered in a variety of Greek letters. Soap it on the windows of the dining hall. Flash it on the JumboTron during half-time. And organize a series of events during the run-up to the conference.

We need to convey the unmistakable message that failure is not acceptable. Because, truth be told, failure is not survivable. At least, not for long.


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