At Colby—where environmental policy has been a major for 10 years—May demonstrated the intersection of science and politics.
First she analyzed the build-up of carbon in our atmosphere and the dire consequences already in evidence. Recalling predictions in the late 1980s about what was likely to happen in about 2050, she said, "I'm seeing that now.— From 1950 to 1996, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased four-fold. Carbon dioxide remained fairly stable and below 280 parts per million for 160,000 years, but the most recent figure was 379 ppm, she said. "We're swamping all of the natural systems that are capable of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.—
"And it's irreversible,— she said. "All the CO2 we release in 2005 will be with us for 100 years.—
Then she turned to the politics. In Ottawa one of the major news items of this spring was the Kyoto Protocol, and the week of the Green Campus Summit Prime Minister Paul Martin's government was on the brink of being replaced, in part over that issue.
May pointed to what she sees as a policy of denial in Washington. "These are accepted realities of international law that the Bush administration is denying,— she said. "Worse than that, they're sabotaging the efforts of others.—
Returning to her initial suggestion, that climate change be cast as a threat to security, she said, "When I think about who's a bigger threat to my thirteen-year-old daughter, whom I love more than life itself, it's not Osama bin Laden, it's George W. Bush.—
The Green Campus Summit was a student-planned and student-hosted conference that brought delegations from Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island schools to Colby for two days of workshops and discussions. It was funded by a grant from The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, which chose Colby as the host institution after foundation officials visited the campus last year and went away extremely impressed with the College's community approach to sustainability, led by its Environmental Advisory Group, according to Kendall Foundation Executive Director Ted Smith.