Climate Change Central to Convocation Address

Unity College President Stephen Mulkey delivers a stirring convocation address, with climate change as its central issue.


Unity College President Stephen Mulkey

It is not too late to salvage a livable planet.

“Because environmental change will be the dominant theme of the coming decades, I believe that this century will come to be known as the Environmental Century,” Unity College President Stephen Mulkey told incoming students during opening convocation on August 23. “This is a watershed moment for our species, and it could turn out to be our finest hour.”

The next generation will either inherit a world of diminishing returns that cannot sustain humanity, or one that is sustainable in perpetuity.

That was the central message delivered by Mulkey, an internationally recognized scientist who recently released a video outlining the need for higher education reform in service to the mitigation of global climate change.  Unity College is the first institution of higher learning to divest from investments in fossil fuels, with Mulkey becoming a high profile champion of the cause. It has also adopted sustainability science as a framework for teaching and learning.  The video is available here.

While optimism framed his address, it was clear that being optimistic does not require sidestepping hard realities.

“Students in college today face the prospect of living in a vastly diminished world unless we are able to make significant changes in our use of natural resources and rapidly bring carbon-neutral energy sources on line,” Mulkey said. “It is clear that we are out of time. Our collective action or inaction within the next decade or so will determine the fate of civilization. Climate change presently driven by historic emissions from burning fossil fuels will affect everything about your lives. It will determine what you eat, where you work, how you get to work, where you can live, the kinds of careers available, how you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and most of all, your quality of life. Failure to significantly curtail emissions will result in an estimated 4-6˚C global average temperature rise by 2100 and unthinkable consequences for civilization.”

Read the full text of Mulkey’s Finding Hope Through Action address.

A contingent of employees and students from Unity led by Dr. James Spartz, Assistant Professor of Environmental Communications, will attend the People’s Climate March in New York, New York, on September 21.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014