Testimony on Massachusetts Sen. Barrett’s Carbon Pricing Bill S.1747

27 10 2015

I got to the Massachusetts State House in what I thought would be plenty of time for the 1pm hearing on Sen. Barrett’s carbon pricing bill, S. 1747, before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy.   Ha! The room was packed, standing room only. I could barely get through the door. As the meeting began, the accumulated body heat was already sweltering.

A packed room for MA Sen Barrettʻs carbon pricing hearing #S1747

When my turn to testify came at 5:21 pm, here is, to the best of my recollection, what I said.

My name is Nina Lytton. As a resident of Beacon Hill, I am cognizant of the important role Massachusetts has played in the great moral moments in our country’s history.   We are at such a crossroads now, and once again have the opportunity to lead.

As a Princeton undergraduate, I wrote my thesis on incorporating market externalities into the price system. That was in 1978.   Over the years, I have become discouraged that our society would ever recognize what is truly priceless, the earth, our home. So you can imagine what a pleasure it is for me to testify here today. Thank you Senator Barrett, thank you committee, thank you fellow citizens.

As a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management, I endorse the previous testimony of MIT Professor Christopher Knittel and David Miller of the Clean Energy Venture Group.  As a fellow member of the MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership (MITacal), I support the previous testimony of my MITacal colleague, Jorge Colmenares.

I speak in moral support of the MIT student group, Fossil Free MIT, which is in the 6th day of a sit-in outside MIT President Rafael Reif’s office. Fossil Free MIT is asking the MIT Corporation for a more aggressive action plan on climate change. When I look into the eyes of these courageous young people, I see myself 37 years ago, graduating into a world that I was fairly sure would not be kind to my generation’s children. This indeed has come true.  My heart aches in empathy with the anguish of this generation: their reproductive choices are at stake.

We have been in this room already for 4 hours and 23 minutes. In the one minute that remains of my testimony, I have just enough time left to speak briefly for voices who have not yet been heard in this room.

First, I am testifying here as a community leader in The Humanist Hub in Harvard Square. We are a morally charged community comprised of the Religious “Nones.” The Religious Nones are a large demographic group in America. According to the Pew Research Center’s massive 2014 Religious Landscape Study, 23% of adult Americans and 36% of those born after 1990 are not affiliated with traditional religious organizations. The Humanist Hub supports Religious Nones in the Boston and Cambridge area, including humanists at Harvard and MIT. Our executive director is Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University.

Some Religious Nones are atheists or agnostics. Others are spiritual but not religious. Some are agnostic, non-congregating members of their childhood faith traditions. Others are indigenous people whose spirituality is part of their cultural practices or who, as I do, engage with an indigenous spiritual practice.

The Humanist Hub is a role model for how people can connect in a secular setting to support each other in personal growth as humans and also to act ethically together to make the world a better place.

As a humanist, I believe that carbon pricing is where reason, science and business meet compassion for young adults, for poor and vulnerable people around the world, and for the unborn – in a way that supports freedom of choice by individual citizens.

Second, by virtue of my extended family in Hawaiʻi, I am testifying here as a member of the Indigenous People’s Climate Change Working Group. Carbon pricing is a way to begin to respect the interdependent web of all existence to which we all belong.  Aloha kākou.  Mahalo nui loa.

I stand with Massachusetts Senator Barrett in support of Carbon Pricing Bill, S.1747.

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