2014 college graduates have never experienced a month that was not warmer than average. These same graduates have seen the fossil fuel divestment movement and anti-Keystone XL activism grow at their schools, as more and more recognize how fossil fuels affect them now and in the future. This year, their commencement speakers — political leaders, scientists, and journalists — realized that too, using their platform to talk climate change.
These five speakers did more than just give a nod to the issue, however. They called for 100 percent clean energy, slammed climate deniers, and linked it to worldwide stability:
1. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, at University of Maryland, had a jab at climate change deniers. “To those who say climate change is not caused by human activity or that addressing it will harm the economy, let’s encourage them to go to college, too, and to study physics and to study economics, but for the rest of us, let’s get to work.”
2. Bill Nye the Science Guy, at University of Massachusetts Lowell, called out the conspiracy theorists delaying action on the climate. “Conspiracy theories are for lazy people,” he said. “People that don’t want to get down to the business at hand. Instead of just doing less, we have to find ways of doing more with less. That’s the key to the future.”
3. Secretary of State John Kerry, at Boston College, said the “Flat Earth Society” is taking a gamble with world stability. “You might not see climate change as an immediate threat to your job, your community, or your families,” Kerry said. “But let me tell you, it is.” He continued, “climate change is directly related to the potential of greater conflict and greater instability. I’m telling you that there are people in parts of the world — in Africa today, they fight each other over water. They kill each over it. And if glaciers are melting and there’s less water available and more people, that is a challenge we have to face.”
3. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, at University of Massachusetts Amherst, delivered an unexpected call for the state to go coal-free in four years. “Two [Massachusetts coal burning power plants] remain: Brayton Point in the South Coast region and Mt. Tom, just down the road. Within the next four years, both should shut down and Massachusetts should finally end all reliance on conventional coal generation.”
5. New Yorker Magazine Editor David Reminck, at Syracuse University, singled out President Obama. “[W]hat about our refusal to look squarely at the degradation of the planet we inhabit? In the last election cycle many candidates refused even to acknowledge the hard science, irrefutable science, of climate change. The president, while readily accepting the facts, has done far too little to alter them. How long are we, are you, prepared to wait?”