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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 12, 2024

TCI must publicize withing the Tufts community

Since the spring of 1999, when President John DiBiaggio committed Tufts to the Kyoto Protocol guidelines, promising to drastically reduce the University's carbon dioxide emissions, Tufts has shown unparalleled leadership in the fight against global warming. The Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI) and student efforts to promote energy conservation should be commended.

Two years later, it seems Tufts is on its way toward meeting its goals; specifically, reducing carbon dioxide levels to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. But Tufts is first and foremost in the business of education - in this case, promoting the cause of environmentalism in the University community and throughout American academia - a role that TCI should not overlook in its continued efforts to conform to the Kyoto Protocol standards.

Programs already in place at Tufts have the potential to educate an entire generation of environmental advocates. By capitalizing on campus-wide interest and activism, Tufts could graduate students prepared to take an active role in conserving energy into their adult life. A contest sponsored by Tufts' ECO to encourage electricity conservation in dormitories is an encouraging sign. TCI should likewise increase its outreach.

Tufts' commitment to protecting the atmosphere should serve as an example outside of Medford and Somerville as well. The US is the leading producer of greenhouse gases worldwide, but has thus far taken few steps to address its profligate polluting. In fact, America has yet to even ratify the Kyoto agreement it helped create. Change, therefore, must come from the grassroots level. The US environmental community has recognized TCI as a leader, as have a small group of students on the Tufts campus. But widespread publicizing of University initiatives has not been undertaken.

Massachusetts schools should follow Tufts' precedent. With a broad base of student knowledge concerning TCI, Tufts students can spread the message, and other local universities can use Tufts as a model to design their own energy conservation programs. Likely, if cost-conscious Boston area schools would adopt a similar program, they could eventually save over $1 million annually.

But before Tufts sells TCI to all of America, it must sell it to its own student body. Despite its impressive accomplishments, TCI has not spent nearly enough time or money publicizing its efforts within the Tufts community. And although program directors have renewed the goal to engage Tufts' student body, the results are not yet evident. The TCI/ECO coordination must only mark a starting point if Tufts is truly to be a civic-minded institution committed to both the practice and teaching of environmentalism.