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by Brandon Greenblatt - 1 October 2015
 
Brandon Greenblatt // 30 September 2015 //  #GoingGreen

My name is Brandon Greenblatt, and I’m a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington, DC majoring in International Affairs. For the next eight months, I will be interning virtually with the United States Embassy in Berlin working on this project, Going Green: Education for Sustainability. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity and look forward to working with you all on such an exciting and important project.

          One of my roles as a member of the Going Green team will be to contribute to this blog, helping to inform both American and German high school students about sustainability efforts in the United States. My education at Georgetown University focuses, to a large extent, on the political and economic aspects of international relations, and you’ll see that influence reflected in my blog. Over the coming months, I will write about many environmental and energy initiatives in the United States, from the Keystone XL Pipeline debate to President Obama’s recently-updated climate change plan to the plastic bag tax here in Washington, DC. I hope to inform you all about the scientific relevance of these topics, but I’ll also try to approach everything from political and economic angles as well. Some questions I’ll be asking myself, and hopefully questions that you’ll begin to consider, are:

  • If it’s in everybody’s interests to protect the environment, why do politicians from different political parties present such conflicting approaches to sustainability?
  • How might a scientist’s understanding of the environment differ from that of a politician or an economist?
  • What sustainability movements exist on the local, state, and federal levels of the United States’ government? How do public citizens interact with the government in promoting environmental awareness?
  • What does sustainability look like where I live, here at Georgetown University and in Washington, DC? And how do college students across the United States exhibit environmental awareness?

Finally, if you are ever interested in communicating with me directly, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Looking forward to a great year, und viele Grüße!

Brandon Greenblatt


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.
 
Brandon Greenblatt // 15 October 2015 //  #Experts #GoingGreen

Aaron Silberman

Aaron Silberman, a fellow student at Georgetown University with a strong interest in environmental and energy issues, currently serves as both a director of Georgetown Environmental Leaders and as the Deputy Secretary of Sustainability for the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA).  Aaron, originally from Austin, Texas, is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service considering a major in Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a concentration in Environment & Energy.  I asked him about his work with Georgetown Environmental Leaders and his perception of sustainability movements across the country.

Aaron, thank you for taking the time to share some of your experiences related to environmental activism with the Going Green community!

Tell us about Georgetown Environmental Leaders (GEL).  What is its purpose on Georgetown University’s campus, who are its student leaders, and how does it interact with the university and student administrations?
GEL was formed approximately four years ago to provide a framework that would allow different environmental organizations on campus to unite with each other.  Our goal is to communicate both with each other and the Georgetown University community in a cohesive manner.  GEL is led by four Student Directors who help organize events each semester such as a “Meet and Greet” hosted for new students, as well as a student evaluation of the university’s new Sustainability Plan.  It’s important to realize that GEL is non-hierarchical, so our intention is to unify Georgetown’s different environmental advocacy groups and not favor a single organization or policy over another.  Right now, we’re interacting with the administration to generate student input on the university’s Sustainability Plan, but our future work will be focused mainly on making sure that student, faculty, and staff voices are inherent in all aspects of university planning.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge with regard to coordinating environmental advocacy efforts on a university campus?
First, I must say that the benefits of uniting many of Georgetown University’s environmental groups under one framework outweigh any potential drawbacks.  Membership in GEL is entirely optional, and individual organizations always have the choice to include or exclude GEL from their work.  In this sense, there’s very little tension among the environmental groups at Georgetown because membership in GEL is entirely non-binding.
Second, university students’ focus on environmentalism has undoubtedly increased in the last four years, and this is a national trend not specific to Georgetown.  This means that, in general, university administrations have become increasingly receptive to organizations such as GEL and its constituent members.  Much of our work is a conversation about the nature of student involvement in the discussions regarding sustainability on Georgetown’s campus.  That is, we don’t advocate that the university adopt specific sustainability policies.  Rather, we focus on emphasizing the need for student input while discussing those policies.  Overall, throughout my time with GEL, I’ve found the university administration to be incredibly responsive to this approach, and I must say that we haven’t encountered any significant challenges thus far.

If you had to name one activity or campaign that an individual should support to encourage sustainability, what would that be?  Divestment, organic agriculture, using electric cars, etc.?  Why?   
This is a tough question, but I would have to say divestment from fossil fuels, both individually and at the corporate or university level.  In my opinion, divestment is a rather timely mechanism for causing environmental change.  Additionally, I think the notion of divestment raises broader and important questions about our society’s values and what has developed as the building blocks of the United States economy.  Divestment is predominantly a moral argument, but it’s also interesting to see how financial systems interact with the fossil fuel industry.  Most businesses promote fossil fuels as a cheap and easily accessible form of energy, but I firmly believe that it is possible to align morals with financials and have a return to investment.
As a public awareness issue, divestment is particularly interesting.  University students who campaign for their schools to divest from fossil fuels truly help to raise awareness about the danger of a reliance on fossil fuels.  If institutions are complicit with the fossil fuel industry and a citizen is unaware of such an arrangement, then change cannot occur.  On the international level, we already see that such change has happened.  At a recent G-8 summit in Germany, the United States pledged to cease the usage of fossil fuels by 2100, a decision I wholeheartedly support.
At the university level, I think divestment is a great mechanism for students to promote environmental sustainability.  I firmly believe that the motto of environmentalism should be “Do what you can!” and divestment is a clear avenue for students to lobby their university administrations.  As we saw with GU Fossil Free’s efforts lobbying Georgetown University just last semester, divestment is an opportunity uniquely available to college students.

How would you characterize the sense of environmental stewardship on Georgetown University’s campus and on other college campuses across the United States?
I’m immensely proud of both the work that Georgetown University students and students at other American colleges have done to protect the environment.  Our generation is keenly aware that our lives will be impacted by climate change; we’re unique in that we keep one eye on the future and one eye on the present.  I feel very lucky to be a part of this movement, and I’m eager to promote environmental awareness to all of my colleagues and peers.  “If you are interested in X, the environment is relevant and will affect X,” I like to say.  Climate change truly is the great equalizer, but at any age you are capable of making a positive change.

If you are interested in learning more about Georgetown Environmental Leaders, please visit their website or find their page on Facebook.


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 20 October 2015 // #Experts #GoingGreen 

One of my recent posts on this blog included an interview with Aaron Silberman, the student director of Georgetown Environmental Leaders (GEL), a sustainability and environmentalist advocacy group at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  Aaron spoke with me about the value of divestment as a tool for college students to advocate for greener energy resources.  To follow up on the topic of divestment, I spoke with Grady Willard, a fellow student at Georgetown University and a member of GU Fossil Free, Georgetown’s divestment organization. 

Hi Grady, thank you for letting us peek into your work.

During the Spring 2015 semester, GU Fossil Free began petitioning the Georgetown University administration to divest from fossil fuels. What exactly is divestment?  Moreover, what are the ethical and moral principles that guide individuals advocating for divestment, and what environmental studies substantiate your mission?

From gofossilfree.org, divestment is the opposite of an investment - it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Fossil fuel investments are clearly unethical - when you invest in fossil fuels, you are perpetuating a system that leads to global climate change, human rights abuses, health problems, and poverty that disproportionately affects politically disenfranchised communities.  New research also shows that investing in the fossil fuel industry is also not financially sustainable.

Please describe GU Fossil Free's divestment campaign at Georgetown.  More specifically, what are your ultimate goals and what has been achieved thus far?  

GU Fossil Free’s goal is that Georgetown University will divest from the top 200 coal, oil, and gas companies (in terms of proven carbon reserves.) So far, we have received a commitment from the university administration to divest from direct investments in coal ONLY. Yet, as far as I know, the actual divestment process has not begun.

What are some of the biggest benefits in working with a university administration to achieve divestment on such a large scale, and what are some of the struggles you have faced?

One of the hardest parts of the campaign has been trying to get the university to listen to students and to be more transparent about who is making decisions and where our money is going. One of the best parts of working with the administration has been the fact that many administrators are excited about how they can make Georgetown more environmentally friendly.

Georgetown University was founded in 1789 as the first Jesuit university in the United States. How do Georgetown University's Jesuit values and/or its position as a prominent university in Washington, DC influence your campaign for divestment?

Jesuit values teach that we should not be harming others - think "Faith and Justice" and "Women and Men for Others." GU Fossil Free argues that we should align our investments with our morals and not be complicit in a system of oppression.

What do collegiate divestment campaigns look like around the country?  Are other university students petitioning their administrations to divest, or do most hope to promote environmental awareness through different mechanisms?  

Some schools have declined to consider any divestment, while others have divested from all fossil fuels entirely.  Additionally, other universities have done a "half measure" like Georgetown has. And still, other schools have yet to consider the issue of divestment entirely. You can find a full list of commitments here.

Unrelated to university-level divestment, what advice would you have for high school students, in the US and Germany, to reduce their carbon footprint and help protect the environment?

Don't just try to reduce your own carbon impact, try to make an impact on a larger scale - whether in your community, at your university, at your workplace or at your state level.

If you would like to learn more about GU Fossil Free, please visit their website.  In particular, I would encourage students interested in collegiate divestment campaigns to read the full divestment proposal released by GU Fossil Free in August 2014.


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 27 October 2015 // #GoingGreen


Brandon Grenblatt - Licoln Memorial
A few weeks ago, when I had some free time and the sun was shining outside, I decided to leave my university campus and go for a bike ride around Washington, DC. I set off for the National Mall, a prime tourist destination located in the heart of the US capital. This being my first time on the Mall this semester, I was excited to visit some of the iconic city landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the White House. (For our German readers, the National Mall is an outdoor space in the center of Washington, DC where most of the national monuments and memorials to influential presidents are located!)

My ride took me through the Georgetown neighborhood, along a bike path next to the Potomac River, and finally into the center of the city. I found my trip to be a great opportunity for exercise, reflection, and some time outdoors. It got me thinking…why don’t my American peers and I ride our bikes more often?

Germany is notable for its green transportation - from lower-emissions vehicles to bicycles - as a convenient and environmentally friendly way of getting around. While the United States is definitely making progress towards offering greener forms of transportation (bicycle use in particular), it still has a ways to go.

Brandon Greenblatt - Washington MonumentIn the United States, one’s socio-economic status can be a major barrier to owning a bicycle. A 2009 study conducted by the Community Cycling Center, a nonprofit organization located in Portland, Oregon, found that African and Hispanic individuals are disproportionately unable to afford a bicycle. Even those who are able to purchase a bicycle still struggle to maintain it and pay for repairs. Of course, this economic barrier is not unique to bicycle ownership and is even more widespread for other forms of green transportation. Low and middle-income individuals across the United States struggle to afford many forms of high-tech transportation, such as hybrid and electric cars, which exhibit high financial barriers to entry.

Luckily, many cities in the United States offer programs to make bicycles more accessible to the average citizen. Capital Bikeshare, founded in 2010, provides low-cost bicycle rentals to individuals in Washington, DC and the surrounding Virginia area. Nice Ride Minnesota is a program similar to Capital Bikeshare and provides 1,550 bicycles for rent at 170 kiosks throughout Minneapolis and in nearby St. Paul. In my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, the Knight Foundation Cycling Fund just recently gave Sustain Charlotte (a nonprofit that promotes green development patterns) a grant of $204,000 to promote bicycle use in the city.

Brandon Greenblatt - Capital Bike ShareStill, cycling is a viable form of transportation only as long as cities possess the infrastructure to support it. Living in Washington, DC, I’m lucky to be able to ride through a city with designated bike lanes that allow cyclists to ride outside of busy city traffic. In other cities, however, where automobile use is prioritized over cycling, it will take political haggling to convince city leadership to provide more bike lanes and cyclist-friendly infrastructure. The availability of such infrastructure is perhaps one of the most important determinants for whether or not a population will use bicycles as a form of urban transportation. In fact, a Forbes Magazine study in May 2015 ranked the top 20 most bike-friendly cities in the United States, and half of the evaluative criteria (including miles of bike lanes and road connectivity) were directly related to public infrastructure.

Ultimately, cycling as a form of green transportation will materialize only if a population wills it. In the United States, citizens are endowed with the opportunity to petition their local, state, and federal governments to implement cyclist-friendly policies. For that to happen, however, Americans have to intrinsically value green transportation as an alternative to automobile use. Americans – and individuals across the globe – would need to place a lower premium on their time and a higher value on protecting the environment. Clearly, this transformation is already occurring, and urban programs such as Capital Bikeshare and Nice Ride Minnesota show that many Americans hope that daily bicycle use can become a reality. For many Germans, however, this practice already is a reality.

This is a critical point and, I believe, a poignant opportunity for Germany and the United States to cooperate on sustainability issues. What makes bicycle use so widespread in Germany, and how can it become integrated into American culture? Do Americans need to increase access to bicycles, do they need to provide infrastructure that supports safe transportation, or is there a broader societal norm that needs to be addressed? Conversely, where has the United States made strides in sustainability, and which of those policies can Germany modify and adopt for itself? Germany and the United States are continually innovating and “going green,” but it is only with communication and transatlantic cooperation that we will truly make a difference.


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 07 December 2015 //   #GoingGreen

Panel "Women and Climate Change: Impact and Agency in Human Rights, Security, and Economic Development"Earlier this month, I attended a panel hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.  It was truly eye-opening.  The discussion, entitled Women and Climate Change: Impact and Agency in Human Rights, Security, and Economic Development featured a number of important figures in gender equality and sustainability movements.  Ambassador Melanne Verveer (Executive Director of the Institute, most recently having served as the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues) moderated the session.  The panelists included Mary Robinson (UN Special Envoy for Climate Change), Tarja Halonen (former President of Finland), and Radha Muthiah (CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves).  I’d like to share a brief summary of the panel discussion as well as my thoughts on the intersection of climate change, international development, and gender issues.

»Climate change is exacerbating existing global inequalities.«
Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change

 

 My biggest take away from the panel was that women in developing countries, particularly those living in sub-Saharan Africa, are disproportionately disadvantaged by climate change.  Though climate change is undoubtedly a global issue affecting all people – and thus we all have a duty to commit to sustainable living practices – the three panelists emphasized that impoverished women in rural communities are the most vulnerable to climate change.  H.E. Robinson remarked, “Climate change is exacerbating existing inequalities,” and, indeed, this does appear to be true.  Abnormal weather patterns, such as droughts, can harm everybody’s standard of living, but those already living with a limited water supply, such as women in sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly vulnerable.

 

»Women are the victims and agents for change.«
Radha Muthia, CEO Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Ms. Muthiah offered a poignant example that illustrates how women are not only disproportionately impacted by climate change, but also how the circumstances of their poverty create a never-ending cycle of suffering.  Women living in developing countries lack the resources and modern technology to cook efficiently.  Rather than having access to a microwave or stove, as many of us do, these women are forced to gather timber and kindling from their natural environments for fuel. Not only does this contribute to deforestation, but the women often collect wood coated in moisture, dung, and leaves.  Burning this wood releases a toxic chemical known as black carbon.  Understandably, these women cook in their homes to provide heat for their families.  Yet doing so only traps the toxic smoke in enclosed dwellings, which leads to serious health issues.  Ms. Muthiah estimated that this cooking practice leads to 4 million deaths annually, most of those women, and to 25% of global black carbon emissions every year.  Unfortunately, over 500 million households across the world cook this way.  Without the modern technology so many of us take for granted, women living in the developing world are both the “victims of and agents for climate change.”  They simply have no other options.

»Everything is impossible before it has been done.«
Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland

 

 Trying to address gender roles, poverty, and climate change all at once is certainly a major undertaking!  Luckily, President Halonen offered some words of encouragement.  She reflected on the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP-21) that will be held in Paris later this year.  There, global leaders are expected to draft new sustainability and development policies. President Halonen noted, “Everything is impossible before it has been done.”  She emphasized the opportunity that world leaders will have, not only to address climate change, but also to make sure that those women marginalized by it have a greater voice in policy discussions.

How does all this relate to our school project?  In my opinion, our participation in Going Green is already a huge step in the right direction.  This unique project fosters transatlantic dialogue on environmental issues and helps us develop global solutions to pressing environmental problems.  Yet, even as we continue to learn and grow with one another, let’s think about sustainability beyond Germany and the United States. 

We can certainly protect the environment around our own homes, but what can we do for the world community?  How can we think about those people most impacted by climate change – especially women and residents of the developing world – and make sure our policies benefit us and them?  We can talk about using hybrid rather than diesel cars, or using solar panels rather than coal.  But how does this relate to a woman living in rural Africa who doesn’t even have access to transportation or electricity?  We need to work together to develop sustainability solutions for the entire world: solutions specific to each environment and each way of life.  Let’s continue to Go Green, but let’s make sure we’re going green for everyone on the planet!

If you are interested in learning more, please view the report entitled Women and Climate Change: Impact and Agency in Human Rights, Security, and Economic Development published by the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace, and Security here.

(Photo courtesy of The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; From left: Ambassador Melanee Verveer, Radha Muthiah, Fmr. President Tarja Halonen, and H.E. Mary Robinson)


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 07 December 2015 //  #GoingGreen

Disruption film posterI’m no cinematographer, but I would guess that it is incredibly difficult to make an impactful documentary about climate change.  You have to spend hours gathering footage of the natural world.  You have to spend hours interviewing prominent politicians and scientists, synthesizing their expert opinions into something your audience can understand.  Beyond all of that, you have to not only convince people that climate change is occurring, but also convince them that it’s human caused and that they can take action to combat it.

Disruption, a film by Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott, accomplishes all of these goals.  It is an excellent and impactful documentary.  Released on September 7, 2014, the film describes the process of organizing the People’s Climate March, which occurred on September 21, 2014 in New York City, two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Summit.

Disruption is a successful documentary on a couple of fronts.  The visual images show the astounding transformation our planet has gone through due to man-made pollution and ecological interference.  The film opens with original footage of Earth as seen from orbit around the Moon during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.  You see Earth in its entirety and really gain a sense of the vast beauty of this planet we inhabit.  Almost immediately, the film cuts to scenes of natural disasters, including footage from typhoons in the Philippines, Hurricane Katrina, and droughts plaguing Africa.  Disruption proclaims, poignantly, that the beautiful planet we initially witnessed in the film is no longer the planet we live on.

A significant portion of the film contains brief interviews with prominent politicians, philanthropists, climate activists, and scientists—in short, the people we should trust the most to know about climate change, care about, and do something about climate change.  Disruption distills complex environmental and political jargon into something that a common person can understand, and it makes an incredibly compelling point: It’s bad enough that humans have known about climate change for decades and have only just started to take action.  But the action we’re taking now is insufficient to preserve life as we know it. 

One point from the film really stuck with me, and it illustrates this idea perfectly.  During the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change held in Berlin in April 2014, a group of scientists determined that the highest amount by which we can permit global temperatures to rise until humanity is significantly threatened is 2°C (3.6°F).  Disruption points out, however, that even if we abide by current policies to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, the global temperature will rise by over 6°C.  If we keep placating ourselves with policies that we know to be ineffectual, how will we every truly combat climate change?

The film offers a solution, one derived directly from its title.  The documentary emphasizes scientific understanding and personal environmental stewardship as vehicles to combat climate change, but what it really promotes is public protest and a call for action.  Disruption.  While depicting the process of organizing the People’s Climate March, Disruption showcases the power of peaceful, civil protest.  It shows us that activists come in all shapes and sizes – those with experience and those newly empowered, rich and poor, black and white, longtime environmental stewards and common but concerned citizens.  When people unify and make their voices heard, their impact can be monumental and even compel the United Nations and local governments to action.

As we approach the Conference of Parties (COP-21) to be held in Paris at the end of this month, the power of citizen protest needs to be utilized.  As my most recent blog post detailed, COP-21 is going to be huge.  Global leaders are gathering to outline an updated strategy for combating climate change, with particular focuses on renewable energy, gender roles, and international development.  As all of these new goals are set, people in Paris and around the world have an exciting opportunity to make their voices heard.  They can take the lead from those who participated in the People’s Climate March and ensure that the next round of climate talks will truly change the course of environmental activism for years to come.

Disruption opens with a quote that I’d like to leave you with.  It’s from Frederick Douglass, a famous abolitionist leader who helped overturn the policy of slavery in the United States during the 19th century. His words compelled people to civil rights activism then, and it can compel us to environmental activism today.  “Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.”

Disruption can be watched online for free at watchdisruption.com.

Disruption film poster (photo credit: pfpictures)


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 15 December 2015 //  #Experts #GoingGreen
 

Film director Jared P. Scott

In my most recent post, I reviewed Disruption, a film released in September 2014 that described the organization of the People’s Climate March in New York City.  I had the chance to interview Jared Scott, one of the film’s producers, to talk about Disruption and his thoughts on citizen protest and environmentalism.  Jared spoke with me via Skype from Paris, where he’s currently attending the COP21 climate summit.

 

Mr. Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Tell us, what was the initial inspiration for producing Disruption, your latest film about climate change?

Climate change has always been a particular area of focus for my producing & directing partner Kelly Nyks and myself.  In 2013, we released a film called Do the Math that followed Bill McKibben, who is arguably America’s most renowned environmentalist and also the founder of 350.org, a grassroots global movement rising up to keep emissions down.  In Do the Math, we explored the movement as it played defense against proposals to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline and offense as it promoted divestment from fossil fuels. That film became a catalyst for discussions about climate change, KXL, and Divestment in over 10,000+ member-led house party screenings, high schools, and universities worldwide.  The film also made its US broadcast premiere on Al-Jazeera America and was aired internationally in over 10 territories.

While directing and producing Do the Math, I got involved with the movement's campaign – seeing filmmaking and the reciprocal nature of content and campaigns from a front row seat.  At the film's premiere in New York, Bill told the audience that we had become “the chroniclers of the movement.”

»We saw the opportunity to make a film that would cornerstone the one prevailing action: get off the couch and take to the streets.«

After making several more short films to rally the movement, Kelly and I heard that the UN Climate Summit was taking place in September 2014 in New York, and that organizers were in the nascent stages of planning the largest climate march the world had ever seen.  As the People's Climate March campaign started taking shape, we saw the opportunity to make a film that would cornerstone the one prevailing action: get off the couch and take to the streets. Disruption was born. We had an incredibly ambitious film and an even more ambitious timeline, but the support from the 350.org, Jon Warnow, the People’s Climate March organizers and the filmmaking community provided the right tools and talents to create a beautiful film.  The stars really aligned. Looking back, I really don't think we could replicate that intensity again. 100 days before the march, we filmed our first organizers meeting.  We spent time with environmentalists, religious groups, climate scientists, social justice campaigners, and a whole array of diverse people. We wanted to include all of these people in the film - it was important to bring everyone under the tent on this one – truly make it a kitchen table issue for people who don't consider themselves self-identified environmentalists and activists. We wanted to reach a broader audience.

 

Disruption emphasizes the power of citizen activism and people vocalizing their opinions, but how do you view your own profession, filmmaking, as a mechanism for social change?

We want you to watch these films because it strikes some kind of chord which allows you to want to be a better citizen.  These films answer a question, one that I ask myself every day.  “What can I try to do to make the world a better place?”  These films become primers, starting points, jumping off points for those dialogues and personal endeavors of civic activity, policy engagement and activism.  Member organizations, universities, and communities organize around our films and lead discussions afterwards.  We hope to make action accessible for the viewer.  We use film as a tool for social change.

»Filmmaking extends beyond just having a camera, going out, and cutting footage. It's an immersive process, where you have to think about how you're going to inform, inspire, and entertain.«

Filmmaking extends beyond just having a camera, going out, and cutting footage.  It’s an immersive process, where you have to think about how you’re going to inform, inspire, and entertain - you have to make the facts interesting, have more ideas than information, and tell a good story.  Making a quality film – not just the broccoli of entertainment - is the cornerstone of any social action continuum, if you want to have a social reverberation.  You want the film to go viral.

I started making these films because I wanted to tell stories about the critical issues I’m passionate about.  I wouldn’t call myself an activist, because I’m a storyteller and filmmaker first. I sometimes refer to myself as a messenger.  In fact, I don’t know what to do at a rally when I’m not filming or thinking about filming.  It’s my way of getting a front row seat to the action.  A filmmaker’s hunger, drive, and passion all goes into making the film the best it can be – and you have to care about the issue you are covering.  Documentary filmmaking is essentially a nonprofit industry – the rewards come in other forms of currency.  The best currency is change – when someone comes up to you and says they made a change in their life because they watched your film. That's what it is all about.

 

You actually released Disruption two weeks before the People’s Climate March was set to occur in late September 2014.  Could you explain the rationale behind that decision?  Why not follow the movement through until its end?

Disruption was the ultimate example of using film as a tool for social change and giving people a direct action on which they could follow through – on September 21st, we need you to march. We need you to be a part of history. This is our moment. 

»We made an educated guess with organizers that 14 days would be the sweet spot.«

We released the film 14 days before the march because we had to have enough lead time to get people fired up to go out to the streets in New York or join a solidarity march somewhere else in the US or around the world.  We thought that releasing the film too early would lead to people's excitement dissipating, but releasing it too late might not allow the film to spread fast enough.  We made an educated guess with organizers that 14 days would be the sweet spot.  Over 1 million people watched Disruption within the first six days online, at house parties, at community screenings and in larger venues around the world.  Vimeo made us a staff pick, Upworthy posted us, everyone from Al Roker, Chris Hayes, Huff Post, New York Times – and celebrities on Twitter – shared the film. We ended up making history - 400,000 people marched in New York City and thousands more in 162 countries around the world.

 

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge when producing a documentary that distills complex scientific information into something other people can understand?  You might have a burning passion to protect the environment, but maybe the public doesn’t.  How do you spark that passion in them?

It’s tough.  In filmmaking, you have to be able to take a lot of information and keep enough of it so that you’re doing justice to the facts, yet you also have to realize that there’s only so much data people can take.  We want to inspire and educate people, but we also need to entertain them.  If you’re not entertained for 54 minutes watching Disruption, it’s not going to have the impact that it needs to have.  We had to find the right balance between facts, figures, and emotional content.

Facts alone don’t move people; it has to be emotionally resonant content.  Ideas trump information, but there has to be enough information there so that the ideas and insights stick.

 

The COP21 is currently taking place in Paris – a city still recovering from the insidious terrorist attacks of November 13 and the capital of a country which has declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of those attacks.  What impact do you think the absence of citizen activism in this particular situation will have at the UN summit right now?  As somebody who is currently in Paris, what contrasts do you see with the People’s Climate March from last year?

The People’s Climate March truly was a huge victory.  400,000 people protested in New York City and thousands of people protested in 162 different countries.  It was peaceful, large, diverse, and exciting.  There were far more people there than even the organizers expected. Van Jones said that “1/3 of the people in New York were there because they watched Disruption,” which was a really incredible thing to hear.  Last September, you felt this collective effervescence: watching the film, going to the march, and seeing leaders respond.

»Today, Paris is a little different.«

Today, Paris is a little different.  Unfortunately due to the savage attacks on November 13, Paris is still in a state of emergency.  From what I’ve experienced here, there are more police out, and you get the sense that it’s a city still recovering from those horrific attacks.  That has cast a shadow, unfortunately, over the ability to organize and march in a way that calls attention to climate issues in a peaceful way that is disruptive on a scale but tolerant to the people still reeling from the attacks.  The march scheduled here for November 29was cancelled.  That was a big blow to organizers who had worked on it for a long time.  Having the Champs-Élysées filled with 300,000 people would have sent a message to world leaders that the people are demanding they need to do more. 
But being here in Europe, I would say that there is a lot of mainstream attention around COP21. It’s definitely visible – there are windmills placed around the city, art (like a giant whale cut-down on the Seine), exhibits, kiosks - not to mention it is all over the news.
There is a lot more to the climate change conversation than just taking to the streets – there is a penumbra of ways to get involved.


 

 

What advice would you have for students in the US, Germany, and around the world who still want to protest but may not be able to attend a big rally like the People’s Climate March and make an impact?

I think it’s interesting that you say “protest” because protesting isn’t the only way to make an impact.  As a filmmaker, I go out and make films.  If I was an economist, I might go out and try to write some kind of treatise or a paper.  If I was a dancer, I might dance.  If I was a playwright, I might write a play about climate change.  What I mean to say is, try to harness your passion and figure out how to get involved.  That might be through art, policy, or organizing.  Your passion will guide you.

»Try to harness your passion and figure out how to get involved.«

I also think it’s helpful to get involved with larger organizations and see what they’re doing.  You might find that work inspiring, or you might find it stifling – in which case you’ll go out and do something else.  Being involved in your local community always helps, because you’re always able to connect with people in your own backyard. That sense of community and solidarity is incredibly important.

There are many different levels of engagement across a variety of different areas.  As long as you find what works best for you, you can’t go wrong.

 

Mr. Scott, thank you so much for speaking with me today.

 


 

Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
Brandon GreenblattJulianne Troiano // 23 December 2015 // #Experts #GoingGreen

experts_cop21.pngLast week, world leaders attending the COP21 climate summit in Paris announced that they had reached a historical agreement in the global effort to combat climate change.  The Paris Agreement, drafted by representatives of nearly 200 countries, includes pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.  Many have lauded the agreement as a monumental step towards worldwide cooperation, while critics have claimed that it does not do enough to protect the environment.  Julianne and I spoke with Mark Giordano, a professor at Georgetown University, and Dr. Daniel Horton, of Northwestern University, to hear their thoughts on the agreement.

Mark-Giordano.jpgMark Giordano is the Director of the Program in Science, Technology and International Affairs at Georgetown University.  He serves as the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environment and International Affairs and is an Associate Professor of Environment and Energy in the School of Foreign Service.  Professor Giordano’s research focuses on cooperation and conflict over natural resources, particularly water.

 

Professor%20Daniel%20Horton.jpgDr. Daniel Horton is a climate scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University. His research group investigates how to detect and elucidate the cause of extreme weather events and studies how the Earth’s climate has changed over time.

 

The Paris Agreement, finalized last week at COP21, has been met with both praise and criticism.  What is your initial reaction to the new plan to fight global climate change?

Horton: I’m excited! It’s not a perfect agreement, and it doesn’t necessarily ensure a low-carbon future, but if we take a step back and realize that we’ve unsuccessfully been trying to forge a global agreement to combat climate change for a couple decades, the fact that we’ve gotten everyone on board this time round is rather monumental. It’s a hopeful moment.

»It's a hopeful moment.«

Dr. Daniel Horton
Northwestern University

Giordano: The general direction of what came out of the agreement is a reflection of the mood outside of Paris. Change is happening in public attitudes and private companies. The agreement might not be as strong as some would like, but it reflects that the tide has turned. Whether it turned early enough is another question, but the signal that it has turned is powerful.

 

One of the aims of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in the global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  What consequences of a rise in global temperatures have we experienced already, and what could happen if we approach this 2°C limit?

Horton: To date, our climate has changed quite a bit due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Perhaps the most acute change is the increase in heat extremes. Increases in the global average temperature have shifted the distribution of temperatures that we experience. Our coldest days are warmer than they used to be and our hottest days are hotter. There’s also evidence that precipitation characteristics have changed. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. The increase in global average temperatures means that when it does rain there’s more moisture in the air that can fall out as rain or snow. Due to this increase in moisture we’ve seen an increase in the frequency of high impact rainfall and flooding events.

»Our coldest days are warmer than they used to be and our hottest days are hotter.«

Dr. Daniel Horton
Northwestern University

Further warming beyond what we’ve already experienced, will continue to exacerbate the temperature and precipitation changes, but it also has the potential to substantially raise sea levels, melt glaciers and ice sheets, and alter our food supply. These are the sorts of changes we either need to prevent from happening or plan to overcome through adaptation and human ingenuity.

 

How do scientists investigate the consequences of climate change and predict future issues?

Horton: To predict how future climate might change scientists use multiple approaches. One approach is to examine conditions during periods in the geologic past when greenhouse gas concentrations were similar to those of today. Those periods all occurred before humans, so much of that research relies of geologic analysis. A second approach is the use of climate models. Climate models simulate the physics of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surface. We can use these models to test what happens when heat trapping greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, and then make projections about how our climate might change.

 

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions to halt the rise in the average global temperature will involve moving away from nonrenewable resources.  Is the science and technology necessary to accomplish this goal available?

Horton: There are definitely some options available for moving away from fossil fuels. As nations go, Germany is at the forefront of the renewable revolution. Wind and solar power are rapidly growing options, and their use and efficiency continue to expand. Outside of changing energy sources, one of the most beneficial options moving forward is to increase conservation. Creating energy efficient (or retrofitting preexisting) homes, factories, and automobiles can reduce the energy burden, and reduces our consumption of fossil fuels without relying on new energy creation innovation.

»As nations go, Germany is at the forefront of the renewable revolution.«

Dr. Daniel Horton
Northwestern University

Giordano: I work mostly on water myself and people talk constantly about a water crisis. But actually there are many options to solving our water problems ranging from technology to finance and from better management to new incentive structures for users. We just have to make the political decisions to act. There is no question in my mind that we are foolish not to invest more in science and technology for an energy transition because of climate change, but even leaving that aside, because it is economically and ethically the right thing to do. Revolutions are about to happen in bio-technology and materials science that will help with the climate goals because of that kind of investment. But we could do a lot with what we already have if we decide to.

 

What do you see as the greatest hurdle in implementing changes in the US to live up to the Paris Agreement and cut greenhouse gas emissions?

Horton: Our largest hurdle in the U.S. is ideological. There are those that believe action should be government mandated, those that believe action should spring from the free market economy, and those that believe no action should be taken. Each of these factions in the U.S. is maneuvering to win the day and it’s largely playing out in the arena of politics.

»The politics are changing.«

Dr. Mark Giordano
Georgetown University

Giordano: Politics. But the politics are changing. You can sense it globally from this agreement but also from rhetoric in the US and the changing actions of the private sector. Finance is already moving in different directions than it used to. People whose primary concern is profit are moving away from the status quo because of the investment risks associated with the old ways of doing business and the opportunity from the new.

 

What can students in the US, Germany, and around the world do to help in mitigating climate change and protecting our environment?

Horton: As individuals, we can turn the lights out, take public transport, reuse a plastic bag, think about where the food we eat comes from, support sustainably minded companies, teach our parents the science of climate change, consider the future when making decisions, and most important of all, register to vote and then vote for who and what you believe in.

Giordano: Live what you believe, especially before you ask others to change.

 

The Paris Agreement offers a ray of hope in recent efforts to combat global climate change, but this is still much work to be done.  As Professors Giordano and Horton emphasized, a global agreement still requires the active participation of citizens and governments.  With the Paris Agreement in the back of our minds, it’s now more important than ever to remain committed to Going Green!

 


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.
Julianne Troiano is a graduate student at the Center for Chemical Innovation on Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN) at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Julianne is interested in environmental science and has experience as a blogger (www.sustainable-nano.com). She recently travelled to Iceland to study glaciers and alternative energy and will share her experiences with us.

 

 
Brandon Greenblatt // 21 January 2016 // #Election2016 #GoingGreen

Our last blog post contained an interview with Professor Mark Giordano of Georgetown University and Professor Daniel Horton of Northwestern University.  The two professors kindly discussed their initial reactions to the COP21 climate summit held in Paris this past December.

When asked about the greatest obstacles to combatting climate change in the United States, both professors noted the immense partisan divide between our two major political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  Many in the Republican Party have historically emerged as climate change skeptics, initially arguing that global warming was not occurring and then ultimately acknowledging that any changes to global temperatures are naturally caused.  Democrats, in contrast, tend to accept climate change as a man-induced phenomenon and support policies to increase energy efficiency, protect the environment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Today, the overwhelming majority scientists agree that global warming is real, it is human-caused, it is happening now, it is a threat to our well-being – but also that it is solvable. 

Still, this partisan divide was evident not only in how individual Americans responded to the COP21 summit, but also in how it was covered by the American news media.  As I followed along with the climate negotiations, I made a few observations about this issue that I’d like to share. 

Overall, and somewhat remarkably when you think about the political climate a few years ago, most Americans and the news media were pretty receptive to the COP21 summit.  Prior to the meetings in Paris, many Americans hoped that COP21 would be an opportunity to radically alter the way we approach climate change.  COP21 was perceived as a time to step up and accept our responsibility – both for past transgressions against the environment and for the duty of improving future sustainability practices.

»COP21 was perceived as a time to step up and accept our responsibility – both for past transgressions against the environment and for the duty of improving future sustainability practices.«

In its initial coverage of the summit, the American news media largely reflected this popular sentiment.  While the reporting remained objective, factually reporting on the summit’s proceedings, the general tone of news reports remained largely hopeful and appreciative.  The Washington Post – a national and nonpartisan news agency – published an article on December 12, 2015 with the headline “196 countries approve historic climate agreement.”  Though subtle, this headline certainly showcases how the news media was undoubtedly impressed with COP21’s outcomes.  The article went on to reflect a sense of appreciation for all those parties involved and expressed optimism regarding the tenets of the agreement. The article stated, “The agreement, adopted after 13 days of intense bargaining in a Paris suburb, puts the world’s nations on a course that could fundamentally change the way energy is produced and consumed, gradually reducing reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy.” 

»196 countries approve historic climate agreement.«

washington-post-logo.jpg
December 12, 2015

Of course, many members of the American media establishment were critical of the proceedings at COP21.  Fox News, a conservative and Republican news agency, published a series of pieces decrying the negotiations in Paris.  From the very beginning of the summit, Fox News commentators and reporters expressed their displeasure.  An article published on December 1, 2015 was headlined, “In Paris, Obama worships at the altar of Europe’s real religion: Climate change.”  The article continued with an equally critical tone, stating that, “For the twenty-first time, diplomats and camp followers are gathering to bemoan the possible future effects of the four percent of Earth’s carbon cycle for which human activity is responsible.” 

 

»In Paris, Obama worships at the altar of Europe's real religion: Climate change.«

Fox%20News%20Logo.png
December 1, 2015

Other articles published by Fox News criticized the United States’ involvement in the negotiations, but not for the reasons you would probably expect.  One article began by immediately attacking not the perception of climate change as being caused by humans, but rather that, “car service, hotels, and accommodations for the president [President Obama, a Democrat] and other administration officials to attend climate change talks in Paris are costing taxpayers nearly $2 million,” implying that President Obama’s participation in the conference is too costly for the American taxpayer. 

Conservative news organizations, such as Fox News, were not the only ones to express strong political opinions.  MSNBC, a news service often characterized as left-wing and liberal, was optimistic about the deal reached at COP21.  On December 14, one day after the summit’s conclusion, MSNBC published an article claiming, “Obama’s success at climate summit puts world on a new path.” MSNBC’s article went on to reaffirm that climate change is man-made, stating that, “This [COP21 negotiations] is all very encouraging, but anyone dusting off their hands and hanging a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner is missing the point: there’s an enormous amount of hard work ahead.” 

 
»Obama’s success at climate summit puts world on a new path.«

MSNBC_2015_logo.png

December 14, 2015

These radically different responses to COP21, particularly between Fox News and MSNBC, clearly highlight the deep tensions that climate change evokes among American citizens.  In my opinion, it is almost inconceivable that Fox News would ever acknowledge climate change and that MSNBC would criticize a Democratic president such as Barack Obama. 

Of course, nothing illustrates this partisan divide more clearly than the statements of politicians themselves.  On January 12, 2016, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress.  During this annual speech, the President of the United States updates the American people and members of his government on issues facing the country.  Often times, the President outlines his upcoming policies and calls for cooperation between the political parties so that progress can be achieved.  This State of the Union, President Obama’s last such speech, was a little bit different.  Rather than outline policies, President Obama laid out his vision for the future of the United States – a vision that he hopes will extend far beyond his time in office. 

One of the four issues on which President Obama spoke was climate change.  He expressed optimism that many Americans have started to accept the reality of climate change, but he also levied a criticism at those who still resist.  President Obama stated, “Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it.  You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.” As participants in the Going Green project, I think many of us have acknowledged the reality of climate change and have committed ourselves to pursuing a sustainable lifestyle.  And this post is not meant to praise those who agree, such as MSNBC, or criticize those who disagree, such as Fox News.  What it does show, however, is that although more and more people across the US acknowledge the fact that climate change is happening and that it is an issue that deserves increased political attention, it still continues to polarize political debates in Congress.  Ultimately, the way to move forward on the issue of climate change is to accept that Republicans and Democrats are going to disagree but that, if we want both our planet to survive and political climate to remain intact, we need to engage in these sorts of conversations in a respectful and healthy manner.

»Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it.  You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.«

President Barack Obama 
January 12, 2016

 


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

 
 Brandon Greenblatt // 29 January 2016 //  #Election2016 #GoingGreen

Democratic%20Debate.jpgAs the 2016 Presidential Race intensifies in the United States, now is an opportune time to examine the role that the environment and sustainability have played in the election thus far. 

It’s important to recognize that this election cycle has been different from most presidential elections in the past, simply because there have been so many candidates running for office!  Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are currently seeking a nomination from the Democratic Party.  Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and businessman Donald Trump are all competing for the Republican Party nomination.  With just less than nine months until the general election, that’s certainly a long list of candidates to choose from!

Republican Candidates Onstage at a DebateFrom my perspective as a university student, this immense volume of candidates has had one significant impact on the election cycle thus far.  More so than other presidential elections in recent years, any candidate who considers entry into this race is immediately forced to distinguish him/herself from the rest of the field.  With such a large field of competitors, it is incumbent upon each candidate to prove to the American people why he/she is the absolute best choice for the party’s nomination and, later on, to be president.  A number of candidates have distinguished themselves well: Bernie Sanders touts his commitment to fighting income inequality, while Donald Trump focuses on combatting illegal immigration and reforming the debt crisis, while Chris Christie emphasizes his expertise on homeland security issues.

To a large extent, the political, economic, and social issues of this race have largely been those defined by the candidates’ areas of expertise.  Donald Trump frequently credits himself with sparking the discussion on illegal immigration, stating that it wouldn’t have become a centerpiece of this race unless he had called for serious reform.  Bernie Sanders has galvanized America’s young adults with calls for tax reform and regulation of Wall Street that will better protect those entering the nation’s workforce.  Unlike in previous years, candidates have actually been forced into a thoughtful discussion on issues of poverty and income inequality.  Unfortunately, by my personal perception of media attention devoted to the 2016 election and the public statements that candidates have made, no candidate has demonstrated particular expertise on – or extended engagement with – issues of environmental and energy policy, and therefore sustainability has yet to enter into the conversation. 

 

 

»Unfortunately, by my personal perception of media attention devoted to the 2016 election and the public statements that candidates have made, no candidate has demonstrated particular expertise on – or extended engagement with – issues of environmental and energy policy.«

Sure, the traditional debates have resurfaced, from concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline to a need to establish energy independence as a pivot away from Middle Eastern oil.  Candidates have expressed a general awareness that we need to reduce carbon emissions, develop alternative forms of energy, and create sustainable infrastructure that spurs economic development.  Martin O’Malley has framed the global warming debate as a moral issue and as the biggest concern for young voters, and Hilary Clinton has called for increases in solar energy capacity.  John Kasich and Carly Fiorina have exhibited moderate stances on climate change, acknowledging its anthropogenic nature but simultaneously prioritizing economic concerns over an expensive energy transition.  Ted Cruz, in contrast, has accused scientists and politicians of distorting scientific evidence and falsely inventing the concept of climate change.  You can read a brief summary of each candidate’s position on climate change here.

 

»Candidates have expressed a general awareness that we need to reduce carbon emissions, develop alternative forms of energy, and create sustainable infrastructure that spurs economic development.«

For the most part, however, climate change has not been a significant focus of this year’s presidential race.  With the exception of COP21, which sparked interest in international climate change negotiations and the United States’ role as a global power, many of this year’s news events have prompted candidates to focus on domestic issues.  Recent crises, such as the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California and a spike in gun violence, have caused the American electorate, presidential candidates, and the news media to focus more on topics such as immigration, gun control, and homeland security.  While those concerns are absolutely valid and an incredibly important part of public discourse, by my estimation this year’s presidential race has focused too little on climate change.  

Within the next few weeks, Americans will begin to cast their ballots in a series of primary elections that will help to narrow down the Democratic and Republican fields.  The Iowa Caucus will occur on Monday, February 1st while the New Hampshire primary elections are slated for Tuesday, February 9th.  Voters will use these primaries to solidify their preferences for the November presidential election, but I also think that they present a fantastic opportunity for voters to start voicing this issues that really matter to them.  If voters demand that we make environmental awareness and sustainability a centerpiece of this upcoming election, candidates will be forced to outline more comprehensive policy plans.  Voters can then develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the candidates available for election, and then they can truly make sustainability an issue of focus for the next presidential administration.  Only with a greater public impetus to start the conversation can we truly hope to go green.

 


Brandon Greenblatt is a student majoring in International Affairs and studying German at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and originally from Matthews, North Carolina. Brandon is no stranger to writing and publishing as the editor of the Western Europe section of The Caravel, Georgetown's international affairs newspaper.

 

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