PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - Speaking at Pace University on Saturday, a former adviser to Presidents Clinton and Carter called for “a new environmentalism” based on “going back to the ideas of the 1960s and early 1970s, rediscovering their more radical roots, and stepping outside the system in order to change it before it is too late."
“The environment continues to go downhill, fast,” James Gustave “Gus” Speth told the annual conference of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities. “We environmentalists can legitimately claim many victories but we are losing the struggle--losing the overall effort to pass our beleaguered planet on to our children and grandchildren. . . My hope is that you can help redesign the university's approach to environmental studies, and environmental education generally, in a way that embraces the true keys to environmental success."
Speth was presented with the Environmental Consortium's Great Work Award, in honor of Father Thomas Berry, former Riverdale resident and environmental author.
Now a professor at Vermont Law School, Speth made headlines in 2011 when he was arrested and jailed for three days following an environmental protest at the White House.
Echoing Speth’s theme, Michelle Land, director of the Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies and director of the Consortium, told the 170 representatives from colleges and universities, “It is our duty in the decade ahead to use our unique resources to transform our region into a world capital of environmental research, education and knowledge. . . . Never have our collective talents and resources been more needed. And never has our duty to the future of the human and natural world been more clear.”
Land said there are 130 colleges and universities in this region, with 870,000 students and 93,000 faculty and staff. All together they occupy more than 40,000 acres of land and consume more than 20 billion gallons of water annually. “Collectively, we are the largest community in the Hudson-Mohawk watershed, and the second largest community in the state of New York,” she said.