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AASHE conference- “So what’s the solution to the climate crisis?”


By Anthony Baratta, Ohio, USA

Today Taylor and I presented on our experiences in Bonn and expectations for Copenhagen at a roundtable discussion for the national Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference. While the attendance was less than expected, we were impressed by diversity among the participants. Included was a man who works for a renewable energy consulting company, a student from Mt. Union college, and a woman with a background in LEED certification.

A student pursuing a master’s degree in Pennysylvania asked the very broad question, “So what’s the solution to the climate crisis?” My brain basically exploded at how complicated his question was. While I am no one way near qualified to answer that question, I did offer one thought:

Many of the people who were considered environmentalists in the past did so because of their love for nature. They enjoyed the trees and didn’t want to see them cut down, they liked clean water and wanted to keep it that way. For me, I have gotten involved from a social justice perspective, without an appreciation for nature. I think more emphasis needs to be put on enjoying  low impact lifestyles in addition to policy advocacy. You can’t have one without the other. Politicians cannot lead a people stubbornly set on waste at all costs. We need more models of sustainable lifestyles, which is something I haven’t paid much attention to.  That’s why low-carbon events like the Greencastle Farmer’s Market are so important.

It was a good conversation to have, and a topic worth exploring. We acknowledge the “necessary evil” of emitting large amounts of carbon in order to fly everyone to UNFCCC negotiations in hopes of a binding treaty on greenhouse gases, but at what point does the carbon intensity outweigh the productivity of any environmental conference?


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