Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with Dan Bloom on his "Graduation Speech to the Class of 2099" (interview in May 17, 2009 issue of the Tufts Observer

Interview with Dan Bloom on his "Graduation Speech to the Class of 2099" (interview in May 17, 2009 issue of the Tufts Observer

In the year 2099:
Tufts alum Dan Bloom speaks about a future after climate change


The Tufts Observer -- a monthly student newspaper at Tufts University published since 1895-- spoke to Tufts alum, author, and
climate activist Dan Bloom, class of 1971. A native
of Springfield, Massachusetts, Mr Bloom has lived in Japan and Taiwan
since 1991. He has spent his professional life
as a newspaper editor and journalist for newspapers
in Alaska, Tokyo and Taipei. Mr Bloom has recently written,
published and videotaped "a virtual graduation speech for the class of
2099" that can be accessed on YouTube at

Tufts Observer: Why did you decide to write a
virtual graduation speech for the class of 2099?

Dan Bloom: I have been deeply involved
in climate change research for the past two
years, ever since I became aware that humankind
has come to a crossroads in terms
of how we approach the future. If we continue
using fossil fuels like coal and oil like
there’s no tomorrow, there might not be a
tomorrow. Several top scientists and climate
activists have inspired me to spend the rest
of my life trying to issue what I call “wakeup
calls” about global warming’s possible
future impacts, and at age 60, that is what
I am doing now. So I wrote an imaginary
graduation speech to the Tufts class of 2099
and put it on my blog. I recently published
the speech as an Op-Ed piece in the China
newspaper in Taiwan where I now live
and work.

O: Is there a particular reason you chose 2099?
DB: I chose the year 2099, rather than the
year 2009, in order to let people think about
the future. Will there even by a Tufts graduation
ceremony in 2099? What shape will Boston
be in by then? The numerals are similar
to 2009. I want to people to look twice at
those numerals, maybe do a double-take and
think: “Is that really 2099 and is that a typo?”
It is not a typo. It is meant to be a wake-up
call for today’s graduates. We are living at a
very important time in human history.
I am deeply concerned that by the year 2500,
there won’t be a human world anymore.
Earth will survive, but humans will be history.
This is not science fi ction. We have
about 100 years to change our ways. I think
we can do it. But time is running out. Most
people want to continue enjoying the good
life, buying more technological gadgets year
after year, driving their cars and SUVs all
over the place, living with the conveniences
of air-conditioning and central heating and
elevators and superhighways and airplanes.
We humans are on track to disaster if we
don’t wake up soon to the harm we are doing
to the Earth by the continued use of coal
and other fossil fuels.

What was the general theme of your graduation speech in 1971? Do you feel that it is still relevant today?

DB: Back in 1971, life was wonderful and full of promise, and the Tufts graduation speech in 1971
was about going out into the adult world
and fi nding your niche, finding your place,
doing your best, using our Tufts educations
to make a better world. I feel those ideas are
still relevant today, yes. I am an optimistic, an
eternal optimist. Tufts taught me to see that
the future can go on forever, if only we use
our hearts and our minds to forge a better
world. The world was full of promise for me
in 1971, and it still is. I am 60, going on 19.
I’m like a kid who never grew up.

O: Climate change has caused many people to rethink
their priorities and look towards the future.
How long do you think it will take for people to
understand that our actions not only effect the climate
but also the well-being of future generations?

DB: It will take a long time for most people
to wake up to the threats of climate change
and global warming. Even with all the books
and movies and documentaries out there
now, people are still sleepwalking toward
the future. It will take a natural tsunami of
untold proportions to really wake people up,
and by then it will be too late. But as an optimistic,
who refuses to give in to pessimism, I
want to believe we humans can wake up on
time and take action to stop global warming
in its tracks. That is why I created this speech
for the class of 2099.

O: Since you’re currently living
in Taiwan, what do you
think is the general perception of environmental
issues there?

DB: People in Taiwan are aware of global
warming and climate change as general
themes in the local newspaper coverage
and TV shows. Al Gore’s documentary “An
Inconvenient Truth”
has been shown here,
with Chinese subtitles, and the Taiwanese
people understand the situation the world
is in. But being an island nation, far away
from the centers of power in the West, most
Taiwanese don’t care very much about the far
distantfuture. When I asked a local reporter
to write about my speech to the class of 2099
for a news story, she laughed and said “Who
cares about 2099?”

O: Do you have a favorite memory from your time
at Tufts? [1967 - 1971]

DB: One of my favorite memories of my
time at Tufts was sitting on the grass on the
hillside outside the library with a small circle
of friends in the early evening, just after
sunset, and talking about our daily lives and
our future plans and dreams. Steve Tisch -- whose family the library would later be named for! --
went on to become a Hollywood producer.
John Blumenthal went on to become a Playboy magazine columnist and a Hollywood
screenwriter. Frank Siteman went
on to become an award-winning photographer in the Boston area and nationwide as well.
Jim Nollman went on to become
a world-renowned
whale researcher and
interspecies communications
author, based on the West Coast. Phil Primack
went to become a
journalist. We’re
all still in touch by

My favorite
class was Dr. Sol
Gittleman’s “Introduction
to Yiddish
and I
still keep in touch
with Dr Gittleman
now by email. He
has seen my video speech,

O: What advice do you have for
graduating seniors, whether job
related or just about life in general?

DB: Tufts taught me this during my four
years there, from 1967 to 1971; those were
the years I decided to make my life meaningful.
Not to become rich or famous, those
were never my goals. But my goal has always
been to try to fi nd meaning in life, and work
with others to ensure that there is a future
for our descendants. Don’t think about
being famous or being rich; think instead
about making a meaningful contribution to
this world you are about to enter as a fullfl
edged adult, whatever that contribution
shall be, big or small. The main thing is to
use what you learned at Tufts to go out and
make something of yourself. The future you
have inherited is going to need your brains,
and your heart. So give it your best shot.
Work to live, don’t live to work.

(c) May 17, 2009 THE TUFTS OBSERVER


Anonymous said...

In Chinese the speech goes something like this:


大家早安. 2099年畢業生,我不能親自來跟你們講話,因為我早就死了.不過,1971年美國波士頓大學畢業生之一的我,想把這個關於全球暖化和氣候變化對台灣和全球的影響的短演說,從過去的日子說給未來的你們聽.


現在我已經不在了,不過,希望你們能在網絡上看到或可以在大學圖書館的數位錄音找到我的留言. 祝你們萬事如意!台灣萬歲!

2099年要畢業的學生,你們處在人類歷史的轉折點.世界正站在需要做出重要決定的開端,要針對兩個大問題: 一,使用石化燃料的問題,二,在台灣已經習慣的 “消費! 丟掉! 燃燒!”的生活方式的問題.

我思索著:在你們的世紀尚認識詹姆斯拉夫洛克 (James Lovelock) 和高爾(Al Gore)的名字還是有新的名字取代他們了呢?2006年“不願面對的真相”(An Inconvenient Truth) 紀錄片的DVD還在大學流傳? 李奥納多狄卡皮歐(Leonardo DiCaprio) 的紀錄片“第十一個小時”(The 11th Hour)呢? 你們聽過DVD這個東西還是在你們的時代已經被忘記了?

2099年學生,我要把這十一個字說給你們聽: “我們需要拉緊煤炭的套索”

在1989年 - 一百年前 - 美國洛克菲勒大學的傑斯阿蘇貝爾博士 (Dr. Jesse Ausubel) 寫了這段預言的句子.你們的世界把煤炭和石化燃料的套索拉緊了沒有?你們已經開始解決人口過剩, 氣候變化和造成永續經濟的難題沒有?全球暖化是否會讓你們的未來走樣呢?

不論你自己對全球暖化的看法如何,你應該知道,剩下的時間不多了.我希望你們的時代找到禁止燃燒石化燃料的方法,也能找到減少氣候變化對未來地球的影響的方法.我剛說“剩下的時間不多了”, 或許該說“時間快用完了”,恐怕需要說“已經沒有時間了”.

2099年畢業生,出去創造你們的世界. 加油!


Glad it worked out. Thanks.

Kim Thurler
Director of Public Relations-Medford/Somerville
Tufts University
80 George Street
Medford MA 02155


'Imaginary graduation speech' to class of 2099 fueled by belief 'there might not be a tomorrow'

Marc Morano's ClimateDepot site

May 23, 2009

Anonymous said...

Creating awareness of the crossroad is crucial and I applaud you for your great work Dan.


Thank you, Mary. The real applause should go to Dr Jesse AUSUBEL of Rockefeller University, who first used the phrase, "tight the noose around coal" in an 1988 paper, that Andy Revin at Dot Earth NYTImes blog brought to my attention via his blog in 2007. So I give all credit to this to Dr Ausubel and Rr. Revkin (Rr. is abbrev for "REPORTER")

WE are all in this together, and your cartoon on this meme is wonderful, too. a real wake up call. But WHO IS LISTENING? I fear the worst case scenario by 2500?