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Posted on on April 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

C2C Fellows  /  National Climate Seminar  /  Bard 04.02.13

Dear friends and colleagues,

This Wednesday at noon eastern on The National Climate SeminarKatharine Wilkinson will discuss her book  Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change. What is the source of this unexpected support for climate action? Is this a growing movement, or was it a “2008 moment”? Can creation care create space for conservative politicians to engage on climate?

Dial in: 712-432-3100
Conference Code: 253385

Join us for this important conversation. Send advance questions for Dr. Wilkinson to  If you can’t make it live, all National Climate Seminar conversations are available as podcasts 24 hour after the calls.

In two weeks we have a National Climate Seminar EXTRAVAGANZA, with a 4/17 evening webinar featuring Executive Director, May Boeve, Island President Director Jon Shenk, and Thilmeeza Hussain, former UN Representative from the Maldives.

The webinar is part of our National Conversation on Democracy and Climate. It follows a nationwide screening of The Island President. I include my Grist review of this amazing film below. Here’s the punchline:

“This is the best film dealing with global warming in years. It is a story of classical proportion: of true heroism, courage and nobility, of eloquent soliloquy, of intimate moments, and of political intrigue, compromise, and betrayal.”

The focus for the day is on the link between democracy and climate justice. With the US political system awash in fossil fuel money, the link holds as true in the United States as it does in the Maldives.  Close to 100 colleges, universities, faith and community groups are participating. You can still sign up here to host a screening, and to participate in the interactive discussion!

And finally, it’s not too late to sign up for our final C2C Fellows Leadership training of the spring, in Portland Oregon over the weekend of April 12-14. Please spread the word to undergrads and recent grads aspiring to sustainability leadership in policy, politics and business! Applications are due April 5th.
Thanks for the work you are doing,

Eban Goodstein

Director, Bard CEP & Director, Bard MBA in Sustainability

Triumph, tragedy, and climate change: 
‘The Island President’

“A cross between paradise and paradise.” This is how Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives describes his nation in Jon Shenk’s powerful new film, The Island President.

Shenk follows President Nasheed over a one-year period, leading up to the Copenhagen climate summit, in a beautiful, courageous, and strangely hopeful story. The film resonates all the more deeply following last month’s coup in the Maldives. The story’s ending — perhaps tragic, perhaps a powerful continuation — is today unfolding in real time.

The Maldives is a string of 2,000 islands off the coast of India, home to about 300,000 people. The highest point in the country is only a few feet above sea level. Until 2008, the islands had been under dictatorial rule for decades.

After returning home from college in Britain, in the late ’80s, Nasheed became an activist for democratic reform. He was imprisoned 12 times, and tortured, enduring 18 months of solitary confinement. In 2008, he led the nation to free and fair elections, winning the presidency.

Shenk, with unprecedented access to a head of state, films a year-long journey of this charismatic, newly elected president. With climate change a clear and present threat to the very existence of his nation, Nasheed begins speaking out globally, and passionately, for all those on the front line of climate change. Finally, he arrives in Copenhagen to play a pivotal role in crafting a global climate deal in 2009.

This is the best film dealing with global warming in years. It is a story of classical proportion: of true heroism, courage and nobility, of eloquent soliloquy, of intimate moments, and of political intrigue, compromise, and betrayal.

The film is also visually stunning. The vast blue ocean is both a serene paradise, and a powerful, threatening force, driving Nasheed’s political urgency. The Maldives capital, Malé, looks like an oasis of buildings rising out of the ocean. When asked by a reporter what was his plan B, should there be no action to slow global warming, Nasheed responds, “We will die.”

Shenk follows Nasheed in strategy sessions with his cabinet as the team seeks to leverage their moral argument as the first victims of climate change, canaries in the coal mine. Nasheed gives speeches, and makes his case with heads of states and ministers at the U.K. Parliament, at the U.N. General Assembly, in India, and finally — during the dark, crushing days of Copenhagen.

I won’t spoil the ending, though it does surprise. I will say that this is a movie for a post-Copenhagen world. Copenhagen put a brutal end to a naïve view that the leaders of the world, pushed forward by a moral imperative, would overcome petty domestic politics and sign an enforceable deal to cut global emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 years. Instead, the meeting advanced a new framework of what could be a race to the top, anchored by national commitments, and driven by domestic political organizing, in the U.S., China, India, Europe, and Brazil.

This approach will be insufficient to save the people of the Maldives. But it is a start, and we are not done yet.

Last month, just after I screened the movie, President Nasheed was forced at gunpoint to resign from his office. Political opponents seized on the economic crisis and fundamentalists objections to Nasheed’s modernizing Islam. At clear and ongoing risk to his life, Nasheed decided to remain in the country, writing, speaking, leading marches, and fighting for democracy.

And this is the enduring lesson from the movie. President Nasheed and thousands of others in the Maldives understand that their land and lives are threatened both by the rising seas, and by the corrupt politics of business as usual. They continue to fight for both democracy and climate justice, in the face of imprisonment, beating, torture, and murder.

Back here in the U.S., there is no outside force stopping any one of us from declaring our candidacy to run as a clean energy/clean money candidate, for mayor, or city council, or the state legislature or Congress. There is nothing stopping us from starting a green team in our business or workplace, and driving sustainability changes there from the ground up.

And maybe, like this island president, we don’t win the first time, and maybe our victories are followed by setbacks. Nevertheless, action at this scale, sustained, by all of us, is what must happen to change the future.

New York City, says Nasheed, is no higher than the Maldives. A cross between paradise and paradise: this is where each of us lives, and that we all must defend. Check out the screening schedule ( to find out if The Island President is coming to your town soon.
Mohamed Nasheed
Former President of the Maldives
Mohamed Nasheed is a Maldivian politician and one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party, who served as the fourth President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012.       Wikipedia
Born: May 17, 1967 (age 45), Malé
Presidential term: November 11, 2008 – February 7, 2012
Previous office: President of the Maldives (2008 – 2012)

National Climate Seminar  /  Spring 2013 Schedule
Climate Seminar calls are Wednesdays at 12pm EST and held twice monthly via conference call. Assign the half-hour calls to your students for a chance to hear top scientists, analysts, and political leaders discuss climate and clean energy solutions. Have questions for the speakers? Email them beforehand or during the call to
Date         Presenter                                                                                                                      Conversation

Feb. 6 Daniel Lashof , Director, Climate and Clean Air Program, NRDC                                     Cutting Carbon at Power Plants
Feb. 20 Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network                                                      Offshore Wind: Potential &Politics
Mar. 6 Brenda Ekwurzel,Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists                              After Sandy, What Next?
Mar. 20 Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby                                      Lobbyists for Climate Action
Apr. 3 Katharine Wilkinson, Author, Between God and Green                                              Between God and Green
Apr. 17 Bill McKibben*, Author, Educator, Environmentalist,                                      Corruption, Democracy, Climate
May 1 Manuel Pastor and James Boyce, University of Southern Cal., University of Mass.           Co-Benefits and Climate Justice

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