Thursday, March 26, 2015

Climate Change and the Academy

There are small groups forming on many campus locations whose goal is to eliminate any investments in what they see as "dirty energy" companies, and to support a program of "sustainability". At one extreme it is the banning of bottled water, never really drink the stuff, to reverting to a zero carbon footprint existence. Now I can appreciate that as I sit amongst my 4,000+ seedlings sprouting up around my office ready for their outside potting once the winter ends, it is the longest in 30 years here in New Jersey.

Now Harvard has had a bit of a time on this issue and their President has decided to answer the call to have a Campus wide discussion. As the Crimson announces:

University President Drew G. Faust will convene a panel about climate change on April 13, following several requests on behalf of a faculty group calling for an open forum about Harvard’s investment in fossil fuel companies.The panel will be moderated by talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose, who has interviewed Faust on television in the past. The roster of panelists is scheduled to include Harvard science and public policy professors as well as experts from outside the University.

The Harvard President has done a superb job on all she has handled and this is one way to address the campus debate. On additional consideration the choice of Rose is frankly quite wise. He has an amazing manner to evoke what a guest, presenter, position taker, really has to say, more so than any others in today's market. Unlike many other PBS types who spend time telling listeners what they think, Rose get to people and get them to tell what they think, which is useful.

This is an interesting approach and worth following.

In contrast MIT has a Sustainability Program. It allegedly purports to:

The Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan is built on the promise of a new future. We believe that environmental, societal, economic, business, and personal wellbeing are parts of an interconnected whole. The strains we face in each of these domains demand that we think differently and invent new ways of living and working. We are committed to creating a new vision for progress and prosperity and a world that will flourish and thrive for generations.  We empower students, faculty, researchers, and business leaders to join together in this endeavor.

 Somehow the above is reminiscent of my old days at MIT in the 60s with one small protest group after another. Now however they seem to set up Centers, appoint faculty, provide space and resources and put it on the students tab. Again, we see an ever growing cost of getting an education.