Can Higher Ed Solve the Climate Crisis?

SolutiongenerationBy Deborah Fleischer

At the AASHE conference, three different speakers evoked Ronald Heifetz’s concept of adaptive challenges — problems that can’t be solved with a simple, technical fix.  If ever there was an adaptive challenge, climate change is one of them: It will require systemic change at a large scale, collaborative conservations and  engagement of many sectors to solve.

At the opening ceremony of the conference, Dr. John Anderson, president of Millersville University, announced MomentUs, a new cross-sector climate solution, and the launch of  Solution Generation, a new initiative to engage higher education in climate solutions. Read on for an overview of MomentUs and Solution Generation.

MomentUs launches Solution Generation

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 8.03.09 AMMomentUs, a program of ecoAmerica, is a strategic, multi-sector organizing and communications initiative that is designed to build personal and institutional support for climate change solutions.  It includes an ambitious cross-sector marketing campaign to engage more Americans in climate change, where they “live, work, learn, play and pray.” Sectors targeted for engagement include higher education, business, faith, health, communities and stewardship. Under the umbrella of MomentUs, each sector is launching its own campaign, with unique branding, to motivate more people to take action on climate change.

Faith was the first sector to launch (see Blessed Tomorrow).  Solution Generation, targeted to higher education, now has its own brand and website, including success stories and resources for making progress on the “Path to Positive.”  According to Dr. Carlton Brown, president of Clark Atlanta University, “Solution Generation provides higher education leaders with tools, resources and best practices they are generally not able to create on their own.”  Dr. Anderson and Stephanie Herrera, the AASHE executive director, sit on the Solution Generation Executive Committee.

Herrera sees Solution Generation as a great opportunity to help get the word out about success stories and best practices.  “AASHE has successes throughout all our member campuses and we want to share these stories,” she explained.  The words she uses to describe Solution Generation seem to fit in well with the emergence operating system discussed in my post on Tuesday.  She describes it as “a convener and a network on climate, making connections to other stakeholders and high-caliber people.”  Herrera attended a MomentUs cross-sector meeting in Chicago, where she was able to dialogue with a rich mix of unusual allies. “I appreciated the opportunity of meeting with leaders from different industries during the MomentUs meeting,” stressed Herrera.  “It was a rare chance to have discussions on the role of higher education with corporations, mayors and faith-based groups.”

The ‘Path to Positive’ pledge

PathAt a lunchtime presentation, Andrea Putman, higher education director for MomentUs, explained, “With the input of over 120 national leaders from many sectors, we have developed the ‘Path to Positive.’ The commitment is to simply to lead by example and engage others.”

You can read more about the pledge and explore taking it here. There is no fee for joining Solution Generation, and the pledge has no reporting requirements.  It is the first step in helping MomentUs begin to build broader support for climate solutions.

13 steps to communicate on climate

MomentUs identified 13 steps and guiding principles for communicating on climate, based in part on extensive research of past social movements, such as healthcare reform and the campaign to regulate tobacco, as well as extensive social science, communications research. You can read more about the 13 steps and principles here.  They are summarized below.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.43.35 PM

Images from the Solution Generation.

Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic sustainability consulting practice that helps universities, companies, and nonprofits amplify their green impact.

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23 responses

  1. Just be smart! End the enormous subsidies and tax breaks for animal agriculture!

    With 60+ BILLION food animals on the planet our best chance to mitigate climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods. More than 1/3 of human induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 but takes only 7 years to cycle out of the atmosphere. CO2 takes around 100 years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!

    “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

    “A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other. But no one wants to talk about it…

    Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet

  2. There is no ‘climate crisis’… This is a MANUFACTURED ‘crisis’, folks… Damn, can people at least TRY to critically think for themselves for a change?

    1. “can people at least TRY to critically think for themselves for a change?”

      You are asking yourself a very important question. Answer it, please.

      The fact that CO₂ warms planets was first proven by John Tyndall in 1859:

      “In January 1859, Tyndall began studying the radiative properties of various gases… Tyndall’s experiments… showed that molecules of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and ozone are the best absorbers of heat radiation”

      Are you saying he was manufacturing a crisis meant to affect people living over 100 years later?

      Is that what you actually believe?

        1. Dishonest Climate Denier propaganda is not an answer to my question. Why are you having difficulty with it?

          The fact that CO₂ warms planets has been known for almost 200 years.

          …so why are you saying it’s a “manufactured crisis”?

          If you weren’t mentally ill and trying to turn established science into a conspiracy against you, why should that be?

        2. “Did you read any of those articles?”

          Of course not. Each and every one of them comes from a source well-known for lying about climate science.

          How could you possibly not be aware of this by now?

          The fact that CO₂ warms planets was proven in the 19th century. If the scientists who proved it were engaging in a scam, what precisely would have been the point?

        3. How convenient… What a lame ass cop out. You morons use that stupid shitty excuse anytime a website doesn’t conform to your worldview… Pathetic…

        4. “You morons use that stupid shitty excuse anytime a website doesn’t conform to your worldview”

          You are talking about yourself very specifically in the wrong person.

          This is common Climate Denier behaviour.

          I’ve already shown you that CO₂ was proven to warm planets in the 19th century. Let me do it again:

          “In January 1859, Tyndall began studying the radiative properties of various gases… Tyndall’s experiments… showed that molecules of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and ozone are the best absorbers of heat radiation”

          CO₂ and other greenhouse gasses are what are driving climate change… so when you say it’s a “scam”, do you think it was started by scientists living over 100 years ago and continuing to this day?

          How could anyone believe something so ridiculous?

        5. Thanks CB, but these as far as I can tell these people are paid trolls… they copy and paste the same garbage all over the internet. It’s kinda sad but there isn’t point in engaging with them :-)

        6. “as far as I can tell these people are paid trolls”

          Some must be, to be sure!

          …but I’m not sure if compensation explains all of the Climate Denialism we see out here.

          To my mind, if MoreSnare1970 were being paid for her dishonesty, it should be slightly more convincing…

          I actually believe Climate Denialism is evidence of a suicidal mental illness. It’s not possible for people to be ignorant of facts so plain at this point, and not possible for people to be ignorant of what they are risking by refusing to acknowledge the problem.

          Even if the people I interact with were all paid propagandists, no amount of money could compensate for the damage they are doing to themselves…

        7. It’s apparent that you are hopelessly brainwashed and beyond reaching… It’s ok, though, there are many other people just like you here in America, so you’ve got plenty of company. As with all the past predictions of doom and gloom that never happened, the same will happen with the current doom and gloom predictions and the sky is falling bullshit… When the corrupt powers that be want to start charging a ‘carbon tax’, well, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. This ‘climate change’ scam is all about money and control, nothing more… You’ll see… Hey, try to have a better day, ok? : )

        8. “It’s apparent that you are hopelessly brainwashed and beyond reaching”

          No! I don’t think you are beyond reaching, though you clearly have been brainwashed.

          If you weren’t, why would you be having such difficulty explaining what you believe?

          The facts behind climate change were proven by scientists over 100 years ago… so what scam were they engaging in?

          Why would they bother scamming people who hadn’t even been born yet?

  3. Sad how out of touch and irrelevant the comments below are… especially the guy who mentions critical thinking. I’m sure he has 3 quack scientists to back him up though.

    1. Yeah, in the last 6 months or so any article we write that mentions climate change gets a sea of copy/paste comments like this. It’s very obviously the same bunch of people/robots every time. Desperation at best… but rather annoying.

  4. A physics-based equation, with only two drivers (both natural) as independent variables,
    explains the ups and downs of measured average global temperatures since before 1900 with 95% correlation, calculates credible values back to 1610, and predicts through 2037. The current trend is down.

    The drivers, method, equation, data sources, history (hind cast to 1610), predictions (to 2037) and an explanation of why CO2 change (fossil fuel burning) is NOT a driver are

        1. You clearly lack the statistical skill to really understand data, as you’ve shown in your funny comments about temperature trends on several comment boards.

          So who knows why you of all people are lecturing others on what they lack.



        2. What is the best rejection for the method you have used to fulfill your wish that you have seen? Oh, wait: you haven’t seen one. Never mind.

          Everyone in the world will look to the scientific literature now.

          Buh-bye. Buh-bye now!



  5. It’s also important to remember that – with about 4.5 million members – the highly politicized teachers’ unions are among the most powerful special interests in the US.

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