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Climate change is arguably the defining issue of our time — affecting every sector of society and every area of the world (although not equally). The challenge it poses to government, business, civil society, and us as individuals is immense. However, as we’ve seen throughout history, wicked problems also steel our resolve, spark our creativity, inspire us to form new collaborations, and spur us to action — ultimately leading to “wicked” solutions.

That is why I am delighted (and proud) that we are highlighting members of the YSE community who are forging novel pathways to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury. In this issue, you can read about Maggie Talmadge ’20 MEM, who, as the director of development at Navajo Power, is helping to lay the foundation for utility-scale renewable development on tribal land. You can also find out more about the work of Stafford Sheenan ’16 PhD, co-founder of Air Company, whose innovative work is rooted in his collaboration with Professors Paul Anastas and Julie Zimmerman at the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at YSE.

While innovation and technology are essential, it won’t be possible to achieve our climate goals unless we are all equally invested in achieving a more sustainable, equitable future. That is why I am so encouraged by the efforts of George Gemelas '21 MEM, who is working to improve the discourse and increase cooperation around environmental issues, particularly climate change, and the efforts of Simon Bunyan '22 MEM, who is working with the Department of Energy's Justice40 Initiative, helping to ensure that investments allocated through legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act benefit frontline communities.

This issue is filled with examples of how our alumni have used the interdisciplinary education and training they received at YSE to become climate leaders in a wide range of sectors. However, every year, some of our graduates find that to pay off student loan debt they must forgo climate-related work where they could have the greatest impact in favor of more remunerative positions. In November, we were thrilled to be able to launch the Bekenstein Climate Leaders Program, which, through a combination of scholarships, internship stipends, and postgraduate incentives, will help make it more affordable for emerging climate leaders to pursue high-impact careers in areas of high need, such as government and the nonprofit sector. We are extremely grateful to Anita and Josh Bekenstein ’80 for the opportunity to establish this transformative program. 

While our climate work can often be difficult, it can also be exhilarating, and even joyous. There is a deep sense of camaraderie to be found in the work we are doing to reach net-zero emissions and preserve our planet for ourselves and future generations, and, as always, I am so grateful for your support, guidance, and friendship. 

Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean