'Harvard Thinks Green' Returns to Sanders

Above the stage of a packed Sanders Theatre hung two green signs reading in bold letters, “Green is the new Crimson.”

On Tuesday night, six Harvard professors spent 10 minutes each sharing their ideas about how to address the growing challenge of sustainability during “Harvard Thinks Green 2.”

“The idea was to inspire students to think about sustainability in interdisciplinary ways,” said Office of Sustainability Assistant Director Jaclyn Olsen. Environmental science and engineering professor Daniel P. Schrag showed satellite images of ice caps in 1980 and 2012.

As the audience observed the difference, he said, “We are beginning to see signs of what I call a ‘planetary emergency.’”

Chemistry professor James G. Anderson illustrated the issue by showing images closer to home. He described the problem of climate change by showing how rising sea levels would affect the Harvard campus.

“Here we see three meters of rise in sea levels. The athletic fields are now under water,” he explained, and waited a minute before adding, “It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘River House,’ doesn’t it?”

In their speeches, professors also suggested solutions to environmental issues. Joseph E. Aldy, an assistant professor of public policy, encouraged a market-based approach to sustainability, promoting natural gas over coal.

Assistant professor of urban planning Joyce K. Rosenthal and Business School professor Amy C. Edmondson ’81 offered a different approach.

“We must build a shared culture of innovation,” Edmondson said, as she explained that the solution lies in building ecologically effective cities that foster urbanization and sustainability.

The six professors, though unique in their approaches to solving this issue, all agreed on the necessity and importance of education.

“Let’s make sure every student leaves Harvard with some basic understanding of the climate energy challenge,” said Schrag. “Whether through science or social science, it should be part of every student’s education.”

The second annual “Harvard Thinks Green 2” is part of the Harvard University Office for Sustainability’s efforts to address global environmental challenges.

The Office for Sustainability is accepting applications for grants from student interested in sustainability and innovation from now until October 18.

Bringing the event to a close, chemistry professor Daniel Nocera said Harvard faculty and students are well-equipped to find an answer to tough environmental dilemmas .

“It’s up to you guys,” Nocera said.

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