Dear President Reif and the Executive Committee,
We, the undersigned MIT students, write to urge MIT to take bold and immediate action against the threats of climate change.
We inherit a warming world. In our lifetimes, we may see more than four degrees Celsius of global warming; our children, more than six. At this rate, by the time our children graduate from college, MIT will face the threat of up to seven feet of flooding from the next Hurricane Sandy-strength storm surge. By the time our children retire, their world could be one of forced migration on the scale of nations, of colossal species extinction, and of prospects of runaway climatic feedback cycles posing an existential threat to civilized society. This is a threat to our futures and to global and intergenerational justice. Around the world, climate change preferentially afflicts those who have contributed the least – the young, poor, and disenfranchised. And with the future on our minds, hope in our hearts, and passions on our sleeves, we MIT students face a world where the pursuit of our ambitions is jeopardized.
We represent a large cross-section of the MIT undergraduate and graduate student population. Many of us are already involved in climate, energy, and sustainability efforts across campus. We are diverse in our academic majors, personal interests, political views, religious beliefs, and cultural backgrounds, yet when it comes to climate change, we are united. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in calling on MIT to summon its moral courage and thought leadership so as to rise to meet this singular crisis and opportunity of our time.
MIT instills in us “the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.” This means avoiding false dichotomies and instead asking “what all can we do?” On campus and around the world, let us take courageous climate actions, which can include but not be limited to:
- Reinventing climate change education so that it is on the minds of all MIT graduates and on the agendas of decision makers everywhere.
- Launching an MIT Manhattan Project for climate science and renewable energy research, development, and deployment.
- Divesting MIT’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.
- Reinvesting in campus energy efficiency, which is a high-yield, low-risk investment.
- Transforming our campus into a living laboratory for sustainability, efficiency, and energy, with emissions reductions consistent with holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
- Engaging with our public and politicians, demanding meaningful leadership and legislation, starting with an effective price on carbon.
We applaud the initial steps your administration has taken by launching the MIT Climate Change Conversation. We understand that it was calls for climate action from MIT students, many of whom are signatories to this letter, that in large part precipitated this Conversation. It is therefore with a sense of duty, pride, and expectation that we urge you to build quickly on this positive progress by making MIT a global climate action leader. Students and student groups can cultivate local changes, but MIT can move a nation, rewriting the course of climate change.
Please make climate change action the defining legacy of your presidency and the generational mission of this Institute.
Albert Einstein said, “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” Here at MIT, we know that climate change will bring suffering and injustice, and we know what we must do to stop it. Now it is our duty to act boldly, courageously, and without delay.
The undersigned students and student groups of MIT.
MIT Dept. of Urban Studies & Planning Students of Color Committee
MIT Sloan Energy Club
MIT Sustainability Club
Add your voice!
Help call on President Reif to make climate change action the defining legacy of his presidency and the generational mission of our Institute.
(Sign on behalf of your student group or add your name as an individual.)