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Because what universities need is more activists

06 Nov 2019 | OP ED Watch

Over a thousand British academics signed a letter asking for time off work to “save all life on our planet” from climate change. Oh, and also a lot more money in the form of “new programmes” and “fellowships”. Because they are so great: “Universities are the bastions of wisdom and knowledge that are urgently needed to combat the climate crisis.” And they said all this with a straight face. So we predict they will feel genuinely mystified when a year from now their whining for more cash and less work hasn’t yielded the hoped-for response.

The letter is full of red-hot eco-panic. “The impacts of climate change are being felt more rapidly than predicted, with Himalayan glaciers melting twice as fast as expected and the Arctic warming to a full 4°C above average.”

These would, presumably, be the same Himalayan glaciers that the IPCC said would be gone by 2035 only to later admit they knew the claim was phony and if the glaciers disappear at all it will be much slower than predicted. And where do the UK academics get the idea of a 4C Arctic temperature rise, since according to the UK’s Hadley Centre the Arctic has warmed by a little less than 2° C since the mid-1960s, bringing it back to temperatures observed in the 1930s and 40s.

The indispensable UK academics continue: “As the United Nations warns that climate crisis-related disasters are happening at a rate of one a week, the risk we face is that impacts may soon run away from us with changes too swift and unpredictable to mitigate.”

The crisis is that we speculate that a crisis may happen. Yet while radical climate alarmist protests may be hitting us at the rate of one per week, the global annual death rate from natural disasters has fallen by about 90 percent since the 1920s, despite the huge increase in global population. Something about the world getting more resilient as a result of the availability of fossil fuels.

Nevertheless even though the world has done a splendid job of mitigating the risks of climate-related disasters without the help of these geniuses, it seems only the gown-clad heroes can save us now. “The Grantham Research Institute just published a report which found that half of all major companies do not factor the climate crisis into decision-making.” It is not surprising that people who have to put their own money where their mouths are pay lip service to the crisis but privately do not think the matter is as urgent as those who want to put other people’s money where their pockets are by shouting fire on a crowded planet. (As we’ve also noted, celebrities who howl about climate then buy fancy beachfront mansions or jet set about are surely voting with their dollars against believing their words. As for the Forbes piece saying the rich including Ted Turner are secretly buying huge tracts of land in the middle of the US because they know the seas will wash away hundreds of millions by 2050, well, rich people have always bought ranches… including Turner, with 15 acquired over decades.) Still it is sobering to think that half of all major companies have fallen for the game.

They conclude their letter “We need to transform our universities into action-oriented institutions.” Wait, aren’t they supposed to be bastions of wisdom and knowledge? And what if the taxpaying public set them up to be places of scientific inquiry and scholarship away from the pressure of relentless political activism? If the universities propose to abandon that mission it’s only fair if the taxpaying public asks the professors earning six figure salaries to teach eight months per year to quit their jobs and launch into activism on their own dime. Or is personal sacrifice out of the question here since only “the very future of life on earth is in question”?

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