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Baldwin: Solve the 'insoluble'
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - Calling global climate change "one of the greatest challenges of our time," Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, on Sunday urged the graduating class of Smith College to attack issues like it and others that many deem "insoluble."

Baldwin celebrated her class' 25th reunion at the liberal arts college for women by delivering the commencement address Sunday. She was one of four women to receive honorary doctorate degrees from the college. Baldwin graduated from the school in 1984 with a degree in government and mathematics.

"Polls tell us that Americans are highly concerned about global warming," Baldwin said during her address. "They also show that Americans aren't eager to act. They see climate change as an insoluble problem."

But Baldwin told the graduating class that many "insoluble" problems have been solved in the past. And she urged the students to be a part of "a national transformation in what we believe is possible."

That, she said, "means it will take the combined force of billions of small gestures" to reverse climate change.

"Buy a smaller car. Start a car pool. Ditch the car, get a bike. Start a fluorescent light business. Urge Congress to act. Back candidates who share your views. Run for office," she said.

Baldwin shared with the graduating class her own run for office, which included addressing what she called another once "insoluble" problem - "the denial of equal rights to millions of gay and lesbian people all around the world."

Baldwin said she started out her first political campaign, for the Dane County Board of Supervisors, by taking a terrifying risk.

"I gave an interview to my local newspaper. And I told them I was a lesbian," Baldwin said.

Baldwin won that election, and in 1998 become both the first woman and the first non-incumbent openly gay person to be elected to Congress from Wisconsin. She was elected to her sixth term last year.

"Today it looks like we have reached a tipping point," Baldwin said of the battle for gay rights.

And, she told graduates, with hard work the tipping point on reversing global warming will come, too.

"History teaches us that we can take these actions and make these sacrifices. With the constant application of pressure, we can solve insoluble problems."