On October 2nd, Bates – among other colleges across the United States – held an event called “Know Tomorrow” to ignite conversation and provide information about the climate change affecting our planet. Bates was one of seventy colleges to host the aforementioned event, held in front of Commons. The event lasted a mere hour; however, the speakers’ speeches and the students’ efforts will last a lifetime.
The event’s speakers, Professor Bev Johnson, Noel Potter ’17, Professor Tom Tracy, Phillip Dube ’16, and Professor Jane Costlow, presented a mixture of personal stories that introduced them to the fight against climate change and facts meant to instill fear and raise awareness.
The event concluded with a reflection period: a timeline was placed on the quad in front of Commons with short descriptions of ways to change our world starting today.
Students then wrote about where they see themselves in the year 2030. It was a way to show that each person’s goal is tied to the environment and the state of the climate; our goals cannot be achieved in a place where the extinction of species and the destruction of our rainforests become inevitable.
The first speaker, Professor Johnson, explained the state of our planet today. She stated that we are currently experiencing an increase in temperature with a .20 degrees Celsius increase every decade since 1975.
This increase may not directly impact Bates students; however, it is melting the snow caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will improve the earth’s climate, thus indicating that it is not too late to bring change to our planet.
Potter told a story that many Batesies connect to —about hiking in the mountains.
Potter recalled how during the summer of 2014, he went to Wyoming to research the melting level of glaciers. To his surprise, the glaciers were melting relatively quickly. Given that the glacier coating was that of debris, the glacier should not have been melting so rapidly.
Potter made a point of saying that political campaigns can be influenced to fund organizations that are opposed to climate change. Furthermore, economics and business majors have the proper resources to influence the way climate change is viewed.
The same point was reverberated by Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Tom Tracy. He emphasized that without our efforts to influence corporations and large industries emitting tons of thousands of gases into the atmosphere, our future generations will suffer greatly.
Professor Tracy stated that often the people who contribute the least to climate change suffer the most. Currently, in less developed countries people are experiencing drought, famine, and disease as a result of climate change. This could foreshadow how future generations will live.
Phillip Dube explained different perspectives of people living in unfortunate circumstances and of those who will follow us. He gave a short, emotional speech.
The last speaker, Environmental Studies Professor Jane Costlow, ended the event by referring to Leo Tolstoy’s words—to look around us. She asked the student body to pay attention to the world and understand its future.
Progress can only be made if humanity accepts that climate change is a serious, prevalent issue.