CC series features S4CD advocate Posner ‘13

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Erica Jiang, Staff Writer

Alex Posner ’13 discussed his experience at the school, climate change, and Carbon Dividends at the first installment of the Community Council (CC) Alumni Series on Monday during I period. CC member Eshan Mehere (11) hosted the event, which showcased Posner’s work as president of Students 4 Carbon Dividends (S4CD), a student-led movement that advocates for carbon dividends as a possible solution to climate change. Posner also spoke to various science and history classes on Monday.

Pioneered by Posner, S4CD is an initiative launched by college students across America in the summer of 2020. The movement aims to use carbon dividends to bridge partisan divides, protect the environment, and strengthen the economy, according to its website. “Where our political leaders have been unwilling, or unable, to forge agreement around common-sense solutions, we on college campuses are showing them how it’s done,” the website says. 

The Carbon Dividends policy proposes collecting money generated by a carbon tax and returning it to the American people as a check. Currently, S4CD’s team consists of more than 400 student government presidents from all 50 states and represents more than four million students, according to their website.

The new Alumni Speaker Series was inspired by the Career Lecture Series Jaden Kirschner ‘21 started two years ago. Monday’s event began with an introduction from Posner on what S4CD and carbon dividends are, and how the school prepared him for his career in D.C. “A Horace Mann education equips you with the skill set to ask penetrating questions, communicate effectively, and take on any challenge,” he said. 

Posner also discussed how the extracurricular activities at the school encouraged him to take initiative and risks. In particular, Posner was part of student government at the school, which helped him begin to understand politics in D.C., he said. 

Sofia Kim (10) enjoyed hearing Posner talk about how his experience at the school shaped the way he writes, communicates, and advocates for himself in college and beyond, she said. “I liked hearing from an HM alum who looked back on his experience and really appreciated what the school did for him. It inspires me to not take my experience for granted,” Kim said.

In Posner’s introduction, he urged audience members to take immediate action against climate change. “Climate change is ultimately a human challenge. The planet will be fine, it was here before us and will likely be here after us,” Posner said. He also discussed the consequences of hesitating to combat climate change. “Climate change is a threat multiplier and a conflict catalyst, and could even make pandemics more frequent,” he said.

At the forum, Josh Anderman (9) learned that his generation needs to pave the way for the future of their environment and that this generation cannot let it slip away from them. “One of the most inspiring things Posner said was, “in order to see the future, you must create it,’” Anderman said.

The key to being able to take action now is a bipartisan solution like carbon dividends, Posner said. A student of the Global Environmental History class, Ana Aguilar (11) found it refreshing how Posner spoke about climate change solutions that appeal to both political parties, she said. “Today, climate change seems to be very politicized even though it is an issue that will affect everyone, so I think hearing the way he works to diminish that was promising,” Aguilar said. 

CC Alumni Series Committee member Ariela Shuchman (11) enjoyed learning about Posner’s specific carbon dividends framework, she said. “Posner is refreshingly realistic and speaks with no bells and whistles. He recognizes that we can’t just say slogans and broad policy claims because that will never work. We have to be smart and frame our rhetoric to individuals and parties.”

Mehere was the primary force behind this installment of the series, Schuchman said. “I have to give Eshan all the credit because he really took charge and assumed a huge logistical undertaking. I’m really impressed with what he pulled off,” she said. 

Mehere chose to invite Posner because he wanted to shift the lecture series to focus on alumni in order to make it more personal and meaningful to the community, he said. One of his goals for the series is to show students the significance of the education the school provides. “Everything you learn at school helps you develop into an adult, no matter your career path,” Mehere said.

In preparation for the series, Mehere reached out to Posner to see if he would be willing to speak at school, and pitched the idea of inviting Posner to Dean of Students Michael Dalo and Registrar Chris Garrison, he said. They hoped to include more opportunities for the students to talk to Posner, so Mehere reached out to various science and history classes that Posner could visit. “We first thought about Dr. Bales’ environmental history class, and then also other classes such as Voices of Protest which are tied to Posner’s work,” Mehere said. “In addition, we wanted another forum opportunity for more students to attend.” 

In the future, Mehere hopes to host one or two more installments of the series before the end of this school year. “Now if we want to invite someone else, we have the same framework to work off of,” he said. He hopes to invite a scientist or a historian, as well as someone with a less traditional career, such as professional chef Alex Guarnaschelli ‘87, he said.

Shuchman also hopes to connect with Barry Scheck ‘67, founder of the Innocence Project, she said. “Eshan and I are ambitious in that the speakers we want are hard to get. We’ll see what happens with them but people should expect another great speaker before the end of the year,” she said.

Mehere was pleased with the feedback he received from all the students Posner talked to in classes during the day and at the forum, he said. “In all three of the classes he visited, students were asking questions up until the end of the period and he was really engaging,” Mehere said. “I’m happy [Posner’s] talks had an impact on all of the students he spoke to and it makes me optimistic for the future of the series.”