“Climate Change has clearly become a driver of conflict”

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

“Climate Change has clearly become a driver of conflict,” former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power told a full house at the 2019 Borah Symposium at the University of Idaho.

This year’s symposium centered on “Climate and Conflict,” and Power delivered the keynote presentation on October 9.

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“Unlike threats like nuclear proliferation, or even this human rights recession,” Power told the audience, “Climate is the rare challenge about which each of us can do something immediately. Whether that is working to elect state and local officials who will pledge…to meet and then expand the Paris commitments; or divesting from carbon intensive companies, as a number of religious institutions and philanthropic organizations have already done; there’s lots to be done, and there’s our individual practices, how we live our lives, and how we even think about our emissions and our contribution to the problem.”

Power served as the 28th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017.

She began her career as a war correspondent covering the Yugoslav Wars. From 1998 to 2002, she was the Founding Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and later she was Harvard’s first Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy.

“My family and I have a saying when we’re about to do something hard,” Power said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.

“All of us, I think it’s safe to say, feel small in the face of climate change. All of us prepared to confront the facts and the science are afraid for our kids, our grandkids, and our planet, our natural world.

“But we really don’t have the luxury of allowing ourselves to be daunted by the gravity of the challenge. We, somehow, together, collectively, have to do our part, as citizens, potentially as well as public servants, as members of the private sector, as teachers, in so many roles, in this struggle, but we each have to do our part to return the United States to a leadership role and to help rally the world to address this gargantuan crisis.

“We need to overcome our fear of failure and find the courage and the resilience…to make up for lost time,” Power said.

During her day at the Borah Symposium, Power met with students from the Martin Institute. “I try to meet them where they are,” Power told us in an interview.  “They’re asking the question in a way that I wouldn’t have been at their age. They’re saying, what can I do? I want to make things different than they are right now.”


This was the 72nd Borah Symposium at the University of Idaho. Since, 1948, the symposium has brought together world leaders, diplomats, scholars and activists to discuss current problems and offer solutions.

Past presenters have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Frank Church, Thurgood Marshall, Stephen Jay Gould, David Halberstam, and  Philip Habib.

Posted October 10, 2019




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