By Natalia Asis, Staff Reporter

Murphy next to a polar bear mascot

Murphy Doughty at the Rally against the
Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline in Washington
D.C. (Courtesy of Murphy Doughty)

   Murphy Doughty, a senior and Geology major at The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is known to be a natural leader who is very motivated about the climate change policy and the introduction of divestment on campus and the UMaine system.

   Doughty chose to study Geology because it helps him view a variety of different perspectives. “I really liked the way Geology gives you a different way to look at the world,” said Doughty.

   Sarah Lavorgna, a senior and a Geology and Geochemistry major, has had the chance to get to know Doughty very well through classes, the Geology Club, a May term trip to Ireland and Scotland and a summer internship. She thinks he chose this major for a different reason. “He really loves to be outside all the time,” said Lavorgna, “and our internship this summer involved hiking. He appreciates all things natural.”

   He is currently working on a divestment project to try to get the UMaine system off fossil fuel. “It is about divesting from our inversion in fossil fuel to more socially responsible forms of energy,” said Liz Dunn, a senior at UMF who is acquainted with Doughty’s project. “He has been really active about getting this petition around to students and faculty. He is very ambitious in this project because it is a lot for one student to take on.”

   Doughty met with President Kathryn Foster and the Sustainability Coordinator Luke Kellett to discuss divestment on campus. “He [Doughty] was excited but realistic,” said Lavorgna. “She is planning on expressing UMF’s interest in divestment from fossil fuel to the UMaine system. We have been petitioning and he brought her some of these petitions.”

  Doughty’s main goal is to raise awareness on climate change and divestment. “The way I see it is that there are these organisms that died and are deposited in the ground and we are taking them from their natural habitat, burning them and throwing CO2 into the atmosphere,” said Doughty. “We have, as a society, an addiction to fossil fuel. We don’t get to see what’s behind the scenes, though. The use of fossil fuel is causing levels to rise as we have never seen before.”

   One of Doughty’s “heroes” is the environmentalist Bill McKibben. In his 350 project, McKibben argues that the Earth needs to have an atmospheric concentration of CO2 of 350 parts per million to have a stable climate. “McKibben measured we are at 390,” said Lavorgna. This has really inspired Doughty. “It gave him one of the first big pushes to start leading this campaign for climate change policy and divestment.”

   Lavorgna emphasized the leader qualities Doughty has. “He is very passionate. He gets a tunnel vision and really really goes for it,” said Lavorgna. “He has a tendency to recruit people to follow him rather than to push his view down people’s throats.”

   “I’m focused on building a momentum on divestment and to get people to realize different things,” said Doughty. “It is a global movement; it’s not only for school.”

   “What he’s written on behalf of this movement is very well written,” said Dunn. “He is very eloquent and you can tell he is very passionate about this topic. He has definitely done his research.”

   Doughty, Lavorgna and other UMF students assisted the Rally against the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline in Washington D.C. last Feb. “It was the largest climate change rally in history,” said Lavorgna.

   The Associate Professor of Geology Julia Daly thinks Doughty is fun to have in class. “He is a thoughtful participant, and [he is] always up for fieldwork,” said Daly. “I’ve had him in two classes, plus he worked for me all of last summer as a research assistant. I admire his conviction to do what is right, his thoughtfulness and consideration of others, and his sense of humor.”

 The research assistant position “was basically to go hiking all summer to study high elevated ponds in Maine,” said Doughty. “We studied the temperature of the water and when the ice comes in and out. The fact that ice is leaving early means that fish are being killed [by that process].”

   The professor of Geology David Gibson is Doughty’s advisor and has had him in several classes “He is great to have in class,” said Gibson, “because he displays a lot of interest in what he is doing.”

   Gibson describes Doughty’s personality in a friendly and lively way. “He is attemptive, fun and he likes to joke around,” said Gibson. “He is very committed and he’ll follow through on it,” said Gibson, “because he doesn’t give up easily.”

   Doughty is also the President of the Geology Club. “Some members feel a positive change since he got appointed,” said Lavorgna. “He really stepped up this year. He started getting motivated and getting things done.”

  Doughty travelled abroad for the first time during a May term trip to Ireland and Scotland. “We were in the field all day long looking at rocks,” said Doughty.

   When Doughty graduates, he wants to work in something related to climate change. “I don’t see myself stopping,” said Doughty. “This is a meaningful direction for me.” However, he does express interest in continuing his academic education. “I like the idea of grad school at some point down the road,” said Doughty.

   “He is very interested in making the world a better place for all of us,” said Gibson.