Category: Tufts Community News (page 3 of 38)

Why might the US reasonably be expected to pay into a Green Climate Fund?

This morning one of my interns came into my office and asked about the Green Climate Fund that President Trump claimed was unfair to the United States when he withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Putting aside that he didn’t seem to understand the numbers, it does beg the question, “Why should America have to pay anything when China is emitting more than us and all these other countries also have a role to play?” I provided her with this allegory:

Consider this thought experiment:

John owns a house with a lawn. His buddy Rex owns a garage next door where he changes oil in vehicles. Every day for the past twenty years Rex has been dumping used motor oil on John’s lawn. At 2 quarts of oil a day (he works slowly), even if he takes 4 weeks of vacation in France every year, over 20 years that adds up to a lot of oil on John’s lawn. John even pours some quarts of oil onto his own lawn once in a while, it’s easy after all. In fact, a few years ago some of the other folks on the block had oil to get rid of so they started leaving it at John’s house too. They weren’t mechanics so they only dumped a little every week.

In the last week Jim from across town started his own garage and started carting his oil over to John’s house, dumping 5 quarts of oil a day (he was a faster worker than Rex). John’s lawn suffered. The oil spilled over into his neighbor’s yard, making them sick. His dog’s hair fell out.

Rex, meanwhile, had built a ditch around his property so the oil he was adding to John’s yard didn’t run back onto his garage’s parking lot. He was doing well. After all, he hadn’t had to pay an environmental fee to get rid of his oil. He lived in a big house farther down the street so although the smell of the oil was annoying he could get away. He’d also used some of his profits to try out some new-fangled synthetic oil, which just evaporated when removed from the car! He even started teaching other folks how to change their car’s oil more efficiently.

Eventually John realized that this oil was affecting him – 97% of the doctors he went to said it was the cause of the weird rash on his skin and his neighbor’s ailments. The vet said the oil caused his dog’s hair to fall out. John decided something needed to be done. He gathered up all the people who had been dumping oil on his lawn and said “this is not sustainable, I am living in a house surrounded by a lake of oil! My grass won’t grow, it smells terrible and I have this gross rash! Oh, and my neighbor is sick and can’t afford medical care. We need to stop putting oil here.”

So what would be a fair solution?

Your initial thought might be, “Well, stop dumping any oil at all!” But there’s no infrastructure set up in the town (after all everyone had just been dumping it on John’s lawn) and it would take time to build it. So, they convinced John to let them keep dumping it, at least until there was an alternative. The new, synthetic oil had been gaining popularity so they decided to develop a solution that would allow everyone to wean off of the oil over time. But how should it happen? Should everyone stop at the same rate? Rex was a lot wealthier than everyone else, and was dumping a lot every week, should he reduce the amount he was dumping faster than, say, Sally? What about the (unnamed) neighbors’ medical bills? Should the dumpers help them out? The neighbors hadn’t dumped any oil and yet were suffering the most.

If you look at the amount of oil dumped last week it looks like Jim is the biggest culprit so you might say he needs to be the one to reduce his dumping. Or you might say everyone needs to cut their amount in half – just to be fair.

However, if you were to look at it over time, you might choose a cap – everyone can only dump 40 quarts of oil a year. And even though that’ll impact Rex more than anyone else you decide that’s okay because Rex is rich and can afford the more expensive synthetic oil.

Or you might look at the total amount of oil dumped over the past 20 years and decide, “Wow, Rex dumped WAY more oil than anyone else, even after he knew it was bad for the lawn.” You also might decide he should pay for some of the clean-up. Maybe even the neighbor’s medical bills.

But he doesn’t think that’s fair because he’s already worked hard to be more efficient and switch to synthetic oil. Plus he doesn’t have the money to pay for the cleanup or the medical bills (don’t they have insurance for that?) – after all he’s spent most of the money he’d earned building his new house.

What do you think would be fair?
So how does this relate to the Paris Climate Accord and the Green Climate Fund? Consider this diagram:

This is a snapshot. This is the equivalent to last week’s oil dumping in our fictional town. China is like Jim, the biggest dumper.

Then consider this graph:

This shows how the US and the EU, like Rex have been emitting carbon for a lot longer than China.

Lastly, consider this graph:

GDP is a proxy for wealth showing that the US, like Rex, has been in business for a long time and is much wealthier than China, who like Jim, recently joined the industrial revolution.

This graph kind of says it all:

Interested in reading more?

Check out these graphs of global carbon emissions:

The Stockholm Environment Institute has developed an equity share approach to addressing the competing needs of countries to develop and to reduce emissions. See their report here:

You can also watch a video of Sivan Kartha, the lead author, explaining the basis.

Design your own solution with the World Resources Institute Equity Explorer!


A Tasty, Zero-Waste Celebration

It’s that time of year again! Tufts Catering fired up their grills and showed off their dessert-making chops (biscuits with berries and cream, anyone?) for the first of three year-end celebrations.

We were excited to see so many students, faculty, and staff attend one of Tufts University’s most delicious annual traditions–the President’s Picnic–on the Medford/Somerville Campus this past Wednesday. Find out when and where upcoming picnics will be taking place!

As a zero-waste event, the picnic only provides recyclable and compostable items. While recycling and composting are great for the environment, it’s even better to reduce and refuse. We encouraged everyone to bring their own reusable place setting and were so impressed with the number of people who participated in this year’s BYOP – Bring Your Own (reusable) Place-setting (plate, utensils, cup/water bottle) initiative. Click on the photos to see them full-size!

Families, students, staff, faculty, and even dogs came by the President’s Lawn to get together and celebrate the conclusion of yet another busy academic year.

A huge shout-out goes to Facilities for managing several waste stations to ensure all materials were properly recycled and composted!

Along with the zero-waste materials, we’ve worked with Catering to eliminate individually packaged condiments and drinks and switch to bulk methods.

Need some tips on how to be waste-free at the next event? Check out this helpful post. Happy picnicking!

Click for recaps from the Boston President’s Picnic and the Grafton Presidents Picnic.

Go to our Facebook album to see more photos from the picnic!

3 Reasons to BYOP to the President’s Year-End Celebrations

It’s that time of the year again — Commencement is over and summer awaits. To celebrate, each year President Monaco hosts picnics on the Medford/Somerville, Boston, and Grafton campuses. As part of the annual tradition, the picnics will be zero waste, so we encourage you to bring your reusable dishware to keep the event environmentally-friendly.

Although recyclable utensils and compostable dishware will be available to use, it’s even better to bring your own (reusable) place setting (BYOP). Here’s why:

  1. When you BYOP, you help reduce overall waste from the event.

    Although it’s great to use the utensils and plates provided at the picnic, these items still require resources to be created and disposed of. When you bring reusables, you preserve resources and prevent waste from being generated.

  2. Your food won’t blow away.

    Reusables are much less likely to blow away since they are heavier and more durable. Bringing a glass or ceramic dish will keep food, dishes, cups, etc. grounded while you enjoy the picnic. Let’s face it — with so many delicious items on the menu, you’re going to want to enjoy every last bite.

  3. You can win a prize!

    To be eligible to win a prize at this year’s picnic, you’ll need to bring a complete reusable place setting. A complete place setting includes:

    • Reusable utensils
    • Reusable plate
    • Reusable cup, mug, or water bottle
    • Optional: A reusable bag to carry everything
    • Optional: A reusable napkin

Please do not bring disposable dishware to the picnic. Because this is a waste reduction initiative, unfortunately, those who bring disposable dishware will not be eligible to win prizes.

We’re giving away custom People Towels (reusable personal hand towels made from 100% Fair Trade certified organic cotton & printed with eco-friendly dyes) to the first 50 people who BYOP.

You can use People Towels instead of paper towels at work! For example, take them with you to the kitchen sink or bathroom to avoid using disposables.

Everyone who chooses to BYOP will be entered to win the grand prize: a reusable BBQ kit!

We hope to see you at the picnics!

First International Flyingless Conference

Image from Professor Wilde’s Twitter Account @flyingless.

On Friday April 28, 2017, Professor Parke Wilde from the Friedman School—in collaboration with Tufts Professors Richard Auner in Music and Ani Patel in Psychology, graduate students Mehreen Ismail, Victoria Chase, and Ola Ozernov-Palchik, and Professor Mary Farbood from NYU, Andrea Norton from Beth Israel Deaconess, graduate students Maximilian Burkard and Nils Meyer Kahlen, and Professor Richard Parncutt in Graz, Austria—put on the first international flyingless conference called the Global Arts and Psychology Seminar (GAPS). This event was created with support from David Kahle, the Chief Information Officer; Tina Woolston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability; and Bill O’Brien, a Multimedia Specialist. With audiences in Graz, Austria; Sydney, Australia; Sheffield, England; La Plata, Argentina; and Boston, MA, USA, GAPS was quite a successful event.

So why a flyingless conference? Well, Professor Wilde explains this event as a hopeful one in the times of climate change. He continues that communities of universities must be leaders, yet contribute to climate change in traveling to conferences to share research and knowledge. This conference aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a lifestyle change in the academic world. He believes that while some may claim these changes are impossible or will hinder economic activity, “thoughtful people will innovate new ways of living prosperously that have less impact on the environment.”

Part of the solution can come through the many ways we can find fulfillment with minimal impact on the environment. Professor Wilde encourages his audience to think of the list of things that bring joy and happiness without being resource intensive. The professor points to music, mental health, and well-being, a direct link to the topic of the conference that before may have seemed out of place. The professor makes it clear the connection the environment has to so many other fields of studies and aspects of life.

He reminds everyone involved and participating in GAPS, “here today, you are part of something important.”

View the GAPS here:



Amazing Classes on Civic Engagement, Social Justice, and the Environment

If you are still unsure of what classes to take this coming year, and your interests lie in civic engagement, activism, social justice, and environmental protection, take a peek at the following list for the Fall’s courses. All of these courses offer the opportunity to see where environmental activism links to other important movements working for protections in our political systems.

Fall 2017:

ENV 110/HIST 170- Environmental Humanities

This course focuses on place-based knowledge, land ethics, indigenous knowledge, and traditional ecological knowledge, to social change, justice, narrative conventions, and connections with science and technology including contributions from indigenous and local communities. Primary source analysis will include literature, historical texts, and visual works.

HIST 128/PJS 128 – Civil Rights Movement

This course examines the modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States and its impact on race relations, politics, society, and culture. Topics discussed during the semester include debates over non-violence vs. self-defense; integration vs. separatism; protest vs. politics; Martin Luther King vs. Malcolm X. The movement’s geographic, racial, and ideological diversity will also be explored, as will the evolution from civil rights to Black Power.

PJS 0099 -Internship- Social Change

This course utilizes supervised fieldwork in a wide range of community, peace, justice, and social change organizations. Readings, guided group discussions, and written reports integrate analysis and experience. Recommendations: PJS 1, one intermediate course each from core areas A through D, and one intermediate course from core area E which may be taken simultaneously.

PJS-0135/AMER-0050-01/SOC-0135-01Social Movements

This course analyses circumstances under which organized efforts by the powerless to affect history are attempted. The course studies the motivations, processes, and impact of social movements and reviews major perspectives in the field. Selected use of films to illustrate major themes.

ENVS 195-01/FMS 94-04/TCS 94 – Media and Environment: CREATING CHANGE

Now, more than ever, the environment needs engaged informed and skilled advocates. This class will explore current issues ranging from the Dakota Pipeline, to deforestation, to pollution of the oceans, to climate change, and give you ways to sharpen your skills to use the media for getting out effective and targeted messages. We’ll be bringing in a diverse group of important environmental advocates, organizers, filmmakers and journalists as guest speakers who will tell their stories of creating environmental awareness and change. Our focus includes the powerful role media can play in giving voice to underrepresented voices and illuminating issues of environmental justice. Learn to make a difference in local, national and global communities on the environmental issues that are most pressing.

SOC 0111/PJS 0111 – Making Social Change Happen

Social change and social justice work often begins at the local level. Historic struggles of workers, racial-ethnic groups, women, immigrants, low income people, and others started in local communities. This course focuses on theories and practices of community-based activism and local grassroots organizing. Why and how do people organize? What are the limits and potential of grassroots organizing? How do grassroots efforts connect to larger social change and to politics?

PS 099: Fieldwork in Politics: Fieldwork in Local Government

Internship placements with such employers as legislators, campaigns, news media, lobbies, law   firms, and administrative agencies. Twelve to fifteen hours of work per week. Written assignments, with supporting readings, on organizational structure, goals and strategies, and occupational socialization.

This spring the following courses were offered, so keep an eye out for them when registering for classes next spring!
Spring 2017:

English/ENV 160 Environmental Justice and World Lit

Who is most hurt by environmental degradation and abuse and who benefits? In this course we’ll examine what contemporary world literature has to say about environmental racism, ecofeminism, toxic colonialism, homophobia and the social construction of nature, globalization, food justice, and urban ecological issues. We will ask: What is the role of art in the struggle for social change?

This course meets a number of articulated English Department objectives, especially in its  emphasis on critical thinking, historical and socio-political contexts, and diverse aesthetics. Above all, the goal of this course is empowerment for social change. How can each of us participate as a change agent in the struggle for environmental justice, locally and globally? How can our understanding of literature contribute? Group work, a field trip, one paper, and active class discussion will be important parts of the course.

PS 108: Public Opinion and US Democracy (M)

Addresses the impact of public opinion in the United States on the political process and vice versa. Emphasis is on the linkage between U.S. citizens and the democratic process. Examines what public opinion is and debates about how it can be measured. Topics include the nature of attitude formation, stability and change; the role of the media in opinion-formation; the link between attitudes and behavior; group differences in opinions; how elites influence mass opinions; political inequality; polarization; and the relationship between public opinion and policy outcomes. Requires the completion of any PS foundation course (PS 11, 21, 41, 42, or 61).

PS 118-02: Organizing For Social Change

This course will trace community organizing to some of its early roots in the United States, as well as drawing connections between community organizing and other movements, including the labor, civil rights, and environmental movements. Presentations and discussions with other Boston area community organizers will be included as will be opportunities to visit with and observe local community-based organizations.

PS 118-03: Massachusetts State Government: Learning While Doing

Students will be placed in one of a dozen State House offices—for a legislator, committee, in the governor’s office, or for an executive branch agency—to serve in a policy-focused internship. These experiences will be supplemented with a class built around discussion of shared experiences, as well as on the interplay between policy and politics. The primary goal is for 3 students to develop real world skills and a deeper understanding of how politics and policy intersect to create law, regulatory programs, and social change.

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