Environmental activist and Falmouth Academy class of 2000 alumn Jay O’Hara is making headlines this week for an act of civil disobedience. National attention focused on the former student after Bristol County District Atty. Samuel Sutter dropped charges against him for a protest against the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, MA.
You can hear a recording of O’Hara’s interview on “Living Lab,” which aired Monday on WCAI, the Cape and Island’s NPR station.
O’Hara, a sail maker living in Bourne, was facing criminal charges and up to two years in jail after he took to a lobster boat to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to the power plant in May 2013. O’Hara and co-defendant Ken Ward were poised to plead the “necessity defense” in blocking the shipment on the grounds that climate change was at a crisis point.
Their defense was persuasive to the district attorney.
In a statement to the Boston Globe, DA Sutter said, “They were looking for a forum to present their very compelling case about climate change. I do believe they’re right.”
The dropping of these charges may set a precedent for climate change protesters.
Through the generosity of the Woods Hole science community, Falmouth Academy’s student scientists were mentored in the fields of microbiology, geology, biological analysis and aquaculture. One student, Alec Cobban ‘15, will be a co-author on a scientific publication to be submitted soon for peer review, and he was invited to present his work at a national conference in his field.
Cobban, a senior, under the mentorship of Edward Leadbetter of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, investigated the ability of deep-sea spore forming bacteria to survive selected conditions found on several extraterrestrial bodies like Mars and Europa. Cobban isolated the cultures he worked with from deep-sea sediment samples collected from deep hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. He was invited to present his findings professionally, at the NorthEastern Microbiologists: Physiology, Ecology and Taxonomy annual meeting in Blue Mountain Lake, NY, this summer. Leadbetter, a mentor and founder of the annual meeting, persuaded the current sponsor of the event to bring Cobban in to present the project.