AN OPEN LETTER TO ALUMNI LEADERS:
Dear Fellow Alumni:
As alumni leaders, this weekend we will re-energize our connection with the Institute. And this year in particular, there is no need to grasp at straws to have at least one key conversation about reconnecting. MIT is grappling with the most important problem of our lifetime: climate change.
In a world where other leading universities like Harvard have stonewalled millennial students’ demands for action toward a fossil-free world, MIT has leaned into the problem with a year-long, campus-wide Conversation on Climate Change. The culmination of this process was a detailed report released in June, full of bold recommendations for how MIT can most effectively lead the world in tackling climate change.
As a community, we’ve learned that the time to act is now. The scientific consensus is clear. To stay within the 2 degree centigrade threshold that governments around the world have agreed is necessary, we need to transition towards a clean energy society and cease building new fossil fuel infrastructure by 2017. If we don’t do this, extreme weather events, threats to water availability, and cascading impacts on food production and the cost of living threaten to destabilize societies around the world within this century. Our crisis includes a moral dimension, as the most vulnerable populations are the least economically and politically resilient.
Can we avert this bleak future? With your help, we believe the answer is yes. MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership (MITACAL) encourages all reunion organizers to put their shoulders behind the Institute’s emerging climate leadership.
First, dig into the resources available. Even as we await word from President Reif on which of the recommendations MIT will implement from the Climate Change Conversation Report, the report itself is a treasure trove of opportunities for alumni engagement. For example, the eye-opening divestment debate would make a riveting video screening for local MIT Alumni Association gatherings. In signature MIT style, the debate is focused on making change happen. Is it more effective to divest to make a moral statement, or to stay invested and work from the inside with greater shareholder oversight?
Second, connect alumni to the opportunities for innovation. MIT is incubating exciting new approaches to renewable energy research and non-fossil-fuel-based economic models. The Sloan Sustainability Initiative is training a new generation of business leaders who think proactively about building climate-resilient businesses and contributing to the clean energy transition. Reunions are a great opportunity for alumni to step into this current of innovation and help make technologies designed at MIT mainstream.
Third, encourage everyone to give what they can for the sake of future generations. Attention comes first. At a minimum, MIT alumni must be even more conscious of the choices they make to support a sustainable world. But we are asking for more than the gift of attention and conscious consumption. Now more than ever, a donation to MIT is a gift to the world.
We are aware that our fellow alumni have deeply rooted convictions when it comes to giving. Some will be energized and engaged by supporting MIT’s technical innovations. Others will balk at contributing to an endowment still invested in fossil fuels. For climate-conscious donors, giving to the Multi-School Divestment Fund will only disburse tax-deductible gifts to the Institute if it establishes a divestment plan by 2017. So there is a vehicle to put your dollars behind your convictions!
MIT is a wellspring of scientific know-how, innovation, and talent, all of which can be applied to the critical issue of climate change. The Alumni Leadership Conference this weekend is an ideal opportunity to energize the alumni community around this subject. Afterwards, we can work together to transform the Institute into a global leader on all aspects of climate action.
—MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership (MITACAL)
Jahangir Akbar, MCP ’12
Warren Atkinson, ’70
Jorge Colmenares, SM ’92, MBA ’96
Dave Damm-Luhr, PhD ’79
Gerald Gras, ’69
Marcia Hnatowich, MArch ’77
Donald Hnatowich, PhD ’68
Sudhanshu Jain, ’83, MS ’85
Christine Jantz, MBA ’99
Bradford Johnson, MS ’04
Rajesh Kasturirangan, PhD ’04
Nina Lytton, SM ’84
Chris Nidel, MS ’95
Aditya Nochur, MCP ’13
Christina PioCosta-Lahue, MCP ’09
Rebecca Romatoski, ’06
Walter Whiteley, PhD ’71
Britta Voss, PhD ’14
Quinton Zondervan, SM ’95