Chase Mack, a sixth semester environmental science and political science major and a history and environmental ethics and policy minor at the University of Connecticut, is a paid intern at the UConn Office of Sustainability, as well as the interim president and vice president of EcoHusky. He spoke about his experiences attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference and how they relate to his climate activism.
EcoHusky, according to UConntact, is a club dedicated to teaching students about their interactions with the environment and how these interactions are different from others who may not have access to similar resources throughout the world.
Mack said his interest in the environment began in high school and stemmed from his interest in international relations. He said he has been heavily dedicated to learning about the political views of different countries, and this slowly turned into knowing where each respective country stands on environmental issues.
“Around maybe 15 I was awakening to the idea of a climate crisis.”Chase Mack, interim president and vice-president of EcoHusky.
Mack said he found his curiosity and advocacy for the environment while having a conversation with his father about the detrimental effects plastic items have on the planet. He said he then slowly began to research renewable energy and ways to create change through policy.
Once at UConn, Mack took two classes that inspired him to deepen his involvement with the environment on campus: ANTH 1010E, Global Climate Change and Human Societies, and NRE 1000E, Environmental Science.
As well as working with EcoHusky, Mack said he’s had several remarkable experiences related to climate activism, like going to the November 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Mack said his pass to the climate summit was donated to him by Linda Mearns, a geologist and climate scientist who has written many reports about the environment, including a Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, according to IPCC.
While there, Mack said he aimed to document his experience and was able to write about seven pages in just his first two days there. He explained how there was always so much going on that he did not want to forget any details or experiences.
“I don’t know, it’s like a little story. It was such a rush of emotions, you didn’t get a moment to sit. You don’t sit at this conference.”Chase Mack, interim president and vice-president of EcoHusky.
Mack said he was able to meet a large number of politicians including Barack Obama, Gov. David Ige of Hawaii, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.
In addition to politicians, Mack also met some well-known climate activists such as poet and activist Emtithal Mahmoud and chief executive officer at Rwanda Green Fund Teddy Mugabo.
During the conference, Mack said he had sat at the Rwanda booth for two hours talking about private finances for climate mitigation and climate adaptation.
“The cool thing about Rwanda is they banned single use plastic items in 2018. They banned plastic bags in 2010. They’re ahead of the US, since the United States has a fascination with it [plastic],” Mack said.
Mack said he also conversed with those representing Burundi because he knows some French and ended up helping translate for them for two days of the conference. He saw protests outside the conference while coming and leaving, and listened to the communications officer for the World Health Organization speak along with the leader of Fridays for Future South Africa.
“I think I was living off a high for the moment. I enjoyed it because I really focused on going to more nations you wouldn’t really think about.”Chase Mack, interim president and vice-president of EcoHusky.
After he finishes his studies at UConn, Mack said he plans on going to law school and graduating with a joint degree in environmental law and a masters in environmental management. After that he hopes to work for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection here in Connecticut.
“At the end of the day there’s not enough awareness of the environmental field, or not enough people care about it, and I don’t hope for the latter,” Mack said.