Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Cathy Buckley ’71, SM ’73

“Champion of the planet” works to make climate sustainability a reality.
October 23, 2018
Photo of Cathy Buckley ’71, SM ’73
Photo of Cathy Buckley ’71, SM ’73
Photo of Cathy Buckley ’71, SM ’73

Years back, after taking her mother and son to see former US vice president Al Gore’s environmental documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Cathy Buckley ’71, SM ’73, had “an amazing moment.”

“We were three generations,” she says. “I realized I wanted my son’s generation to have the kind of habitable Earth that I had, and I also wanted to honor my mother’s generation who fought in World War II for us to have a better world.”

A transportation planner in metropolitan Boston for 36 years, Buckley planned bicycle and pedestrian projects, but seven years ago she traded her routine to become a full-time champion for the planet because “nothing felt more important to me.”

She joined the Climate Reality Project, founded by Gore, which advocates climate action in communities across the world. Nearly 14,500 Climate Reality Leaders work to mobilize communities in more than 100 countries, with 80 activist chapters across the United States that push for practical clean-energy policies.

“Our main challenge is to get enough people to know that our situation is extremely threatening to civilization, yet solutions are already here so we must move very quickly,” says Buckley, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. Now she speaks publicly on the topic “to anyone willing to listen.”

She credits her MIT education with giving her an edge when it comes to grasping the science behind the crisis. “MIT’s logical, rigorous way of thinking is so worthwhile in this work,” she says. In addition to working with Climate Reality, she serves as lead ambassador for the Environmental Defense Fund, recently served as chair of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, and was an organizer for the Democratic Party.

Buckley grew up in a family of 10 children. “There wasn’t a lot of peace and quiet,” she says. “I craved it then and welcome it now, especially the serenity of nature. I love being near trees, the ocean. It’s primordial.”

She moved last year from Boston to Raleigh, North Carolina, where she tries not to drive a car, takes Amtrak to Boston to avoid flying, and has happily acclimated to setting her thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer. Last year for Mother’s Day, her son, Sean, 28, got solar panels installed on his townhouse. “It was my best Mother’s Day gift ever,” she says.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

close up of baby with a bottle
close up of baby with a bottle

The baby formula shortage has birthed a shady online marketplace

Desperate parents just want to feed their babies. They’re having to contend with misinformation, price gouging, and scams along the way.

"Olive Garden" NFTs concept
"Olive Garden" NFTs concept

I tried to buy an Olive Garden NFT. All I got was heartburn.

Our newest issue spells out what you need to know about the dizzying world of digital money.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.