Inspiration Not Contamination

This weekend the College of the Environment is co-hosting an important conference on Carbon Pricing. We are welcoming scientists, public policy experts, and elected officials (including 4 representatives from Congress) who will be discussing a broad range of topics. Wesleyan students will also be participating with the more than 500 registrants. It’s inspiring to see the COE already participating at a level that will advance our understanding and our capacity for action.

This weekend the Theater Department is mounting Shakespeare’s  The Tragedy of Richard III, directed by David Jaffe, and I had the great pleasure of seeing it last night. As part of their honors theses in Theater, Emma Sherr-Ziarko and Ben Vigus both played the diabolical Richard. They were marvelous, as was the rest of the cast. The play is dipped in blood and paranoia, and part of its tragedy is the failure of almost all the characters to see the murderous rage that has contaminated their lives. The rage is self-consuming in Richard, as paranoia must be. The paranoia is Richard’s but so is the murderous intent. He must be defeated.

I’m not sure I should draw any connections between the conference and the play except to say that they both represent work at the highest level. Some people I respect see fear about climate change as paranoia or worse. Others I admire see murderous intent or lethal apathy in our failure to confront looming environmental disaster. In any case, it’s my hope that this weekend at Wes you can find inspiration not contamination, whether you spend your time with Shakespeare’s villain or with friends in search of ecological understanding and responsible action.

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