Rajesh Kasturirangan

I am a mathematician and a cognitive scientist, not a climate scientist or policy professional, so it's somewhat surprising that I am one of the cofounders of ClimateX. After living in India for several years, I realized that climate change, environmental degradation and ecological collapse harms the weakest among us and it's our duty to act as soon as possible. Even better if we can create new technologies and platforms while doing so.

That's what brings me back to MIT after many years away from Cambridge. When I first arrived at MIT in 1998, I was pleasantly surprised that what differentiated MIT wasn’t technical ability but the ability see ideas and opportunities before anyone else. When it comes to new opportunities, the best way to make progress is to identify low hanging fruit where no one else is looking. MIT taught me how to do so.

We have only one earth and our species is destroying it. We have perhaps one or two generations to shift from an extractive to an ecological civilization and I strongly feel that I have to do whatever it takes to enable that transition. MIT has an unparalleled reputation for technical genius. It’s also one of the most entrepreneurial institutions in the world. Why not direct that talent and energy toward the greatest challenge of our times: climate change?

We need to shift from an extractive to an ecological civilization in one or at most two generations. My dream is that MIT is a disruptive agent that helps the world shift toward a new way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.