Class of 1960s Lecture: Eban Goodstein ’82 on “Will Miami Drown? Fatalism, Activism and Global Warming”

Eban Goodstein ’82 is an economist; the author of several books including Economics and the Environment, now in its 7th edition; as well as the founding Director of Graduate Programs at Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and MBA Program in Sustainability. On October 1, 2013 Goodstein came to Williams and gave a lecture on the realities of global temperature rise, the current state of politics regarding climate change, and what students of this generation can do about it.

Goodstein began is lecture with Jeff Goodell’s article published this summer in Rolling Stone titled “Goodbye, Miami.” With the reality of Miami’s inevitable drowning, Goodstein asked the audience to think of the decisions that needed to be made now which will have profound impactson the future. His lecture was framed in his own personal narrative starting with the year 1963 when there were three billion people on the planet and 319 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. From there he moved in decade long increments until he caught up with the year 2013 with seven billion people on the planet and almost 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, he did not end the presentation at the present. Instead, he posed the question of what the earth was going to look like in the years 2043 and 2063 especially if there were to be no policy regulations to combat the issue.

Furthermore, Goodstein asked what we could do in 2013 to prevent catastrophe in 2063. He said, “If you’re going to get into this line of work, you have to be able to look at this climate data and be motivated, not paralyzed.” He discussed current activist movements such as Occupy Wall Street and how it raised awareness of wealth disparities and the White House protest against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline—during which Goodstein was arrested. But he also presented three different routes of environmental activism for careers: policy, business and education and encouraged students build leadership skills. In response to a question about what students could do during their time at Williams, Goodstein said, “Campuses need to lead; Williams should have a carbon target that’s twice as high as the state of Massachusetts’ target.”

Eban Goodstein '82 and Professor Ralph Bradburd,  Chair of CES

Eban Goodstein ’82 (left)  and Professor Ralph Bradburd, Chair of CES (right)