I met with students at Northeastern University recently, and they were gung-ho about going to work on climate change: They’d gone way past their old focus on recycling to start demanding that the college divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. They were nerving themselves up for a real fight; it was fun to see. But once the formal session was over, a student lingered by the edge to ask me, somewhat timidly, a question.
Ralph Nader, it turns out, had been there not long before. And he’d said that today’s college students lack “fire in the belly.” Indeed, according to published accounts of the talk, he’d said, “It is harder to get a rise out of college and university students today than any time in my 45 years of activity.” Did I think this was true, she asked. Was it all hopeless?