After an introduction by Eleanor Mallett’18, Sophie Robinson’07 walked to the center of the Assembly Hall’s stage and delivered a compelling speech. She mentioned her career at Phillips Exeter Academy and focused on the production of her movie, The Age of Consequences that discusses the impacts of climate on increased resource scarcity and migration through the lens of national security and global stability. Throughout her speech, Robinson’s enthusiasm and diligence resonated with many students who were excited to see such a successful alumnus.
When Sophie Robinson studied at Exeter from 2003-2007, the environmental program at the school wasn’t substantial and she was a member of one of the few student organizations on campus that focused on the environment, called the Environmental Leadership Club. As Robinson explained, her club “focused heavily on campus recycling and composting projects.” The movie director shows excitement when she emphasizes the fact that Exeter currently has twelve environmental clubs on campus, “That’s awesome,” she says, and encourages students to make a change. She believes that members of the Exeter student body should pursue change on a personal level by reducing their carbon footprint, eating less red meat and other small actions, while also thinking about a career or hobbies that help boost environmentalism in the world.
Sophie Robinson also thinks that our school has to take more substantial action to make our campus truly eco-friendly. She claims that the first step is divesting from fossil fuels because of the constant release of carbon dioxide. Robinson questions the school’s integrity, “How can we say we take climate change seriously when we profit from it happening?” The director of The Age of Consequences wants the school to become one hundred percent renewable campus and, consequently, turn into a leader other private schools look up to. Aside from divesting and building a more sustainable campus, Robinson claims that the school should provide more courses regarding climate change. She says playfully, “We can wait to push for that until I'm ready to come back and teach them.”
After sharing her opinion about Exeter, the young director described the process of making her movie and shed a light on the struggles she faced during the production of her first film. “A big challenge as a young woman entering a profession I wasn't experienced in was finding my voice and being confident that I was a valuable member of the team even though I was figuring out what do as we went along.” Although there were difficulties, Sophie Robinson is certainly positive about her experience because she learned a plethora of new skills that have made her even more qualified. She is also pleased with her audience’s reaction because her movie has enabled the general public to “have a story twist to what they’ve previously heard about climate change. At the same time, environmental groups are pleased to find a bipartisan perspective to climate change and security organizations are excited to have a new tool to spread their information.
Looking at future, Robinson says she is focusing on finishing the campaign for The Age of Consequences, through which she will help veterans have more renewable energy jobs. She also plans on finishing her masters in Sustainability and, subsequently, producing a movie that focuses on her thesis: The Intersection of Climate Change and Racial Justice in the United States. While she continues to raise awareness towards climate change, Sophie Robinson wants to see a public opinion shift regarding the environment and thinks that “the crucial pieces for that to happen are: renewable energy becoming increasingly cheaper than fossil fuels; removing fossil fuel subsidies and implementing a price on carbon; acknowledging that climate impacts are already hurting low-income population; developing strategies to cope with the impacts.” She also believes that when white privileged members of society start to feel the impact of climate change, when more wars start becoming fueled by climate change, refugees, or resource scarcity and politicians begin to take climate change more seriously, people’s mindset will actually change and the population will truly act on this pressing issue.
Although she acknowledges that there are many issues regarding climate change, Sophie Robinson is hopeful about the future. She thinks that more and more people are becoming aware, especially teenagers, and that is the key to fighting this world crisis. “There is an exponential awareness and level of concern about climate change. As younger generations start to take power, more and more will be done to tackle this problem in all areas.” Robinson also addressed potential solutions and affirmed, “The solutions to our energy crisis already exist, and it’s just a question of political will to implement them. We don't yet know the next technological discovery that may allow us to take CO2 out of the atmosphere at an efficient rate, create massive amounts of renewable energy at scale, or technologies that will allow us to create fresh water without using massive amounts of energy.” Although our fight towards a greener environment seems to have a long distance to cover, Sophie Robinson positively emphasizes, “Don't forget to be grateful for what is wonderful about the world, and create joy with what we do have.”