The 2016 Olympics and IGERT

The 2016 Olympics and IGERT

by Miranda Chase’15

A few days ago we saw the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. I was thrilled to see our classes as one of the most important parts of the ceremony: The videos that showed the polar icecaps melting and the carbon emissions in the northern hemisphere were very familiar to those of us attending classes at the Coasts and Communities program! I felt proud of my country for offering such an important message to the world, even amidst all the political turmoil that we are going through. I also felt proud of UMass Boston and our professors for offering us the most cutting edge information and training, that will allow us take this message seriously and to address it!

Climate change is no easy challenge. Those who have fought for its recognition have been labeled as radicals, tree-huggers, inaccurate, exaggerated, alarmists, and the list goes on. Now that the importance and urgency of climate change is finally being mainstreamed, it is important not to label it as “fashionable”. Planting trees is a good thing in and off itself, and it will certainly help. But we need to go far beyond that. Just doing something because it is eco-friendly and because it attracts public recognition doesn’t necessarily address the root causes of our problem. Hopefully, messages like the one from the opening ceremony will encourage people not simply to plant a tree, but rather to watch those videos more carefully.

At the Coasts and Communities program this is exactly what we do. We get to the bottom of the problem: global warming is a complex and multifaceted issue, caused by a combination of political, economic, environmental and climatic factors. For us to address it, we need to spread the word, plant trees, redesign our energy supply system, and rethink some of our political institutions. Hopefully, with enough momentum and critical mass, we will all be able to give ourselves a golden medal for the fight against climate change!

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