Editorial: Tripod Supports Declaration of National Climate Emergency

The Tripod’s lead story this week centers around efforts by various constituency groups at Trinity to make our campus and our wider community more focused on the troubling state of the environment. The faculty considering a resolution declaring a “climate emergency,” student government taking up the same, and continued efforts by faculty to bring climate education into the fold of the curriculum demonstrates a heartfelt and impassioned commitment to making a difference in this important policy area.

The Tripod, in witnessing this overwhelming support from a wide array of constituent groups, is thus unequivocal in concurring that there exists a legitimate climate emergency in this country that must be addressed. It is undeniable that the future state of our nation and our country are no doubt entwined with the fate of our planet.

We emphatically support those groups on campus that have taken action—and encourage those others who have not—to declare a climate emergency and take all steps within our purview to combat it.

The Tripod believes that these solutions do not lie with a partisan solution but recognizes that in this instance there is a limit to the question of compromise. We cannot continue to operate in the perpetual manner of inaction that has for decades limited our nation’s ability to effectively confront this problem.

Perhaps one action well-within the ambit of each of us is a commitment of faith. In a recent conversation on the state of liberal education with Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, we learned of his concern that there is a general “lack of faith” in institutions of all sorts today.

We concur wholeheartedly. This lack of faith has expanded from the echelons of educational institutions to our nation’s revered arbiters, the court system, and to every agency and department of our federal government that, in theory, should hold the interests of the people in mind. Of course, theories do not always resolve as they should.

The Pew Research Center has reported that the percentage of individuals who “trust the government in Washington always or most of the time” has hovered between an average of 15% and 17% for most of President Obama’s and President Trump’s terms. Even during the turbulent years of the Nixon administration, Pew indicates that the average faith did not drop below 36%.

We do not call here for your faith in the President, or the Senate or House, or to any federal agency. Rather, the Tripod calls for your faith in those non-partisan institutions of government which aim to operate for the good of society: the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, the National Weather Service, and the Food and Drug Administration continue to do important work each day for the welfare of citizens irrespective of political upheaval.

Now more than ever, we must put our trust in something. Our faith should be in those who have resolved to dedicate their life to studying climate and humanity’s complex relationship with it. Our faith should be in those who have undertaken the Herculean task of protecting and warning our nation’s citizens of climate-related issues, of health issues, and of all catastrophes that impact our country.

At a local level, the Tripod pledges to print less issues of the paper, reducing our run by 200 copies. At Trinity, continued education regarding sustainable practices is crucial to maintaining our commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Trinity should continue to actively support sustainability initiatives. Composting is an excellent first step, but Trinity must commit itself to  greater climate solutions. Trinity should seek to make a genuine effort to reduce its carbon impact and should commit itself to partnerships with other educational institutions dedicated to addressing the climate issue.

We cannot and should not ideally stand by while attempts to ignore the imperiled state we are in are endorsed and propagated. The climate emergency is real and the Tripod stands with all who seek to redress it.



Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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