Published: July 11, 2022 By

Image of a group learning about ecological education.

When we talk about climate change, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Degrees of warming. Tons of carbon. Feet of sea level rise.

It’s not that these measures aren’t important — they certainly are.

But the details that illuminate the climate change problem are the very details that obscure it and make it feel insurmountable.

I believe what’s easier to visualize — and what leaves me more optimistic — is how humankind is envisioning solutions to climate change that benefit human life.

As poor air quality in Nepal began contributing to more deaths, Prateek Shrestha (MMechEngr’15; PhD’18) designed an air-monitoring drone to indicate when conditions are best to leave home.

When conflicts emerged between development and conservation in the forests of Brazil, CU Boulder students journeyed there to learn how to work at the intersection of science and policy.

Climate change directly impacts humanity. That’s why I’m proud to co-host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights this December, with opportunities to participate on campus or online.

This summit seeks to make the problem tangible and visceral by focusing on how it impacts human rights and what we can do about it. It will highlight how this multifaceted challenge is affecting the lives and livelihoods of individuals around the globe, particularly marginalized peoples and communities.

Through keynotes, panels and other events, the summit will focus on solutions and encourage participants to commit to solving this problem for all of humanity by taking action.

CU Boulder’s long history of research, scholarship and innovation around climate change and sustainability, across the physical and social sciences, engineering, law, business, communication, athletics and more, ensures that our university community is prepared to lead, innovate and create impact in this important area. 

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights — and our first announced summit keynote speaker — put it eloquently in remarks several years ago before the London School of Economics: “The task of protecting future generations must start with ensuring fairness and equality in the current one.

“We will not succeed in fighting climate change and securing a safer world for future generations without first ensuring that the dignity and rights of all people alive today are respected and protected.” 


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Photo courtesy Peter Newton