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Dartmouth Engineer Bikes on a “Climate Journey” to UN Conference

By Anna Fiorentino
April 2015 • CoolStuff

Morgan Curtis
Morgan Curtis ’14, Climate Journey

This June, Dartmouth engineering graduate Morgan Curtis ’14 will ride her bicycle to begin a six-month "Climate Journey" collecting stories of climate change from individuals throughout New England and eastern Canada, all the way to Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and finally across Europe. Sharing those tales through social media along the way, Curtis’ international trek will build momentum for her final destination: the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

“I came up with the idea of embracing my discomfort with climate inaction and to listen to stories of climate change impact and action,” says Curtis, a modified environmental science and engineering major who recently returned to Hanover to speak about her upcoming Climate Journey to the Dartmouth Council on Climate Change. “I hope to come away from this trip with a better sense of my own place in this world.”

The UN Climate Change Conference—the formal meeting of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—is expected to produce a global treaty that establishes obligations for all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent human interference with the climate system.

“I am hoping to become a youth delegate at the UN Conference so I can push for a just, ambitious, and binding climate treaty in Paris,” says Curtis. “I am distressed by our societal response to climate change so far, though buoyed by the strength and optimism of the grassroots climate movement.”

Of course getting to Paris, even on a bike, requires capital. Curtis is seeking sponsorship and endorsements and hopes to crowd fund $10,000 for the trip.

As for bicycle maintenance costs, the engineering skills she acquired at Dartmouth will certainly help defray those. For example, she was part of a team project called, “The Campus Bicycle: An Eco-Redesign Case Study” which involved disassembling a bicycle down to sub-components, analyzing the materials and manufacturing process of every part, and then making recommendations for alternative materials for each part to minimize CO2 and water impacts while optimizing functionality.

“My Thayer education infused me with a belief that with a solid plan and a willingness to deviate wildly from it, most anything is possible,” says Curtis.

Since graduation, Curtis has been teaching environmental issues and energy solutions classes at Chewonki Semester School in Maine.

“I’ve been thinking and dreaming alongside my inspiring and motivated high school students about our collective futures,” says Curtis. “I have had the chance to slow down and contemplate the climate crisis and the opportunity our generation has to build a better world.”

Tags: alumni, climate change, energy, environment, international, leadership, public policy

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