Political Blog Covers Albright Institute "Politics of Climate Change" Conversation

February 27, 2014

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright '59 visited campus in January for the 2014 Albright Institute Wintersession. Her conversation with former EPA Administrator Carol Browner on January 22, “The Politics of Climate Change,” was covered recently by political blog The Daily Kos. The article, titled “We are not Doing Enough to Counter Climate Deniers” (a quote from the conversation), gives a run-down of the critical issues addressed during the talk.

From the importance of STEM education to the consequences of fracking, Albright and Browner spoke on a wide range of growing environmental concerns. The discussion was moderated by Peter Thomson, Environmental Editor for Public Radio International’s The World. After reading a painfully long list of recent news headlines covering climate change, Thomson opened the conversation by asking “how close are we to meeting the challenge of climate issues?”

The Daily Kos’s Marcia Yerman describes Albright as both funny and direct, and quotes Albright’s reference to climate-change deniers as “flat-earth people.”  She mentions Browner’s emphasis on educating more of the population on environmental issues, which is a major impediment to meeting climate challenges both in the United States and abroad.

Browner, who for the week prior had served as the Institute's Distinguished Visiting Professor, pointed out the important role of government in addressing environmental problems. She acknowledged, however, the widespread distrust in government as a considerable setback to meeting such challenges. Albright called for the combined efforts of media, government, and the electorate to resolve the climate debate. She later added on the role of government, “It is the price of living in a civilized society. Government is not evil. It’s on your side.”

In the spirit of her institute, throughout the discussion Albright highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of addressing environmental problems. She spoke on the challenges facing megacities, on global conflicts and their connections to water, and on the necessity of both strong leadership and a communicative and informed population. Though Browner and Albright both seemed to agree that the current situation was dire, they were not pessimistic: “We can solve it,” Browner said.

The talk was held in Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Auditorium and marked the conclusion of the fifth annual Albright Institute for Global Affairs. The conversation and other Albright Institute talks are available for viewing on Wellesley’s YouTube channel.

- Reporting by Susan Puente '14