Re: [asa] The Climate Science Isn't Settled

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Wed Dec 02 2009 - 10:15:19 EST

I have often had a very similar thought myself, as Cameron expressed it below. The one difference is that I wasn't usually thinking specifically of Kyoto; I was thinking of lots of other things that could also be plugged into this. IMO, Cameron is on target about the irony here: many academics in the US and elsewhere rail against aspects of the economic system that created the opportunities for them to rail against that very system. This is esp true for "elite" academics who hold endowed chairs at the "top" private universities--since those chairs were and often still are funded by investments in companies that are creating wealth by producing things. At places like Penn State (to pick an example Cameron offered), more support is coming from tax dollars generated from people like me (a citizen of PA), which is a broader basis of support in terms of the underlying economics. But still, our wealth in PA (despite very real budget challenges at the state level) comes from lots of things, some of which might be too "capitalistic" for some faculty at Penn State.
 
There is a dynamic here that probably goes well beyond this particular issue. And, it's not easy for me to be so critical of my fellow academics, b/c I also need to be critical of cultures and systems that have empowered me, even at a place like Messiah. The role of the university (or college) is to advance and pass on knowledge, and as part of that role we have to look at how we got to where we are and how we might do it differently in some cases. If I stick narrowly now to the evangelical colleges, what value would they have if no one ever questioned aspects of evangelical culture and beliefs? Then, we would merely pass on knowledge, and the "knowledge" we'd be passing on would IMO be of less value than the knowledge that comes *after* critical reflection.
 
Ted
 
Cameron had written:

I wonder whether -- if in the original Kyoto Accord there had been a policy
of "sharing the burden", whereby every industrial job lost to due to
compliance with Kyoto had to be matched by the shedding, in the affected
country, of one faculty position in climatology or political science or
sociology (e.g., in the U.S.A., at Harvard or Cornell or Michigan State --
or Penn State!), with the academic salaries saved being diverted to keep
another industrial worker in his job, or at least to alleviate the distress
of the families of the unemployed workers -- I wonder, in that case, how
many university professors would have so warmly supported Kyoto? Or what if
one left-wing, pro-Kyoto newspaper editor had to lose his job for every ten
industrial workers who lost theirs? Or what if the energy-use-regulating
branch of the civil service had to be trimmed at a comparable rate? Would
the journalistic and political and bureaucratic sectors have been so big on
Kyoto then? It's easy to be sanctimonious about saving the world when your
own position is never put at risk, and Joe Blow on the assembly line in
Milwaukee will have to take 100% of the hit.
 

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Received on Wed Dec 2 10:16:22 2009

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