I was told about a letter signed by some Harvard faculty urging the president and the Harvard Corporation to eliminate the fossil-fuel investments from the endowment and to otherwise harass and discriminate against the fine folks who work in that industry and the other investors:
HarvardFacultyDivestment.COM (open letter)
Fortunately for Harvard and the system (because Harvard is considered a role model by many others), Drew Gilpin Faust – the new president that replaced Larry Summers – continues to be sensible. See what she recently told the brainwashed babe at the Harvard Yard.
This is not an actual Harvard-University-affiliated logo. Instead, it is a notorious Czech one but I won't be sued for having used that, I guess. ;-)
There are over 4,000 academic employees at Harvard and this letter has been signed by 97+20 or so professors so far. So they represent a tiny fraction. I am sure that this blog post itself will help to add some more signatures. It is surely not my goal ;-) but I don't really care much because I believe that the petition will remain extremist and it won't get above the 2,000 signatories when one could talk about a majority opinion.
Needless to say, the first thing I have checked was the list of the signatories. How many people do I know? What is the composition?
Among the 97 inaugural signatories, the humanity types are clearly prevalent. You see lots of fields like history, Asian art, women studies (repeatedly), sexuality studies (repeatedly), philosophy, American literature, early American history, Latin American history, divinity, early Christianity, colonial art, Romance languages (repeatedly), Germanic languages, Slavic languages, classics (repeatedly), African American studies, comparative literature, French history, social policy, sociology (repeatedly), general humanities (repeatedly), democratic values, psychiatry, ethics, and so on.
Law, economics is also represented.
I think that it's correct to say that professors of physical sciences represent a tiny subset of the signatories. I've looked at STEM fields and only found the following signatories I sort of know:
John Huth (physics), David Keith (applied physics), Barry Mazur (mathematics), Melody Chan (mathematics), Naomi "all papers are alarmist" Oreskes of course (history of science)
Barry Mazur is a nice guy and I know him very well – from the dinners in the Society of Fellows. Sad he's here. John Huth was a physics department chair throughout most of my 3 years as junior faculty. I have thought that he was the ultimate opportunist playing both sides. But when I see his signature under this extremist letter, it surely explains why I had no protection whatsoever against the assholes from other departments who were infringing on my basic human rights during the witch hunt on Larry Summers.
Moreover, Matt Reece (unfortunate) and Thomas Hayes of physics are among the two dozens of later added signatures.
The summary of the letter says that fossil fuels are unsustainable and their elimination is a moral cause similar to tobacco and apartheid in South Africa. Well, I might even agree that these three types of investment should be treated equally by the Corporation. None of them should be (or have been) eliminated. Businesses in South Africa and tobacco businesses are still making some people happy – and allowing them to survive. Tobacco and someone in South Africa during apartheid may have at least threatened the quality and dignity of life of others or the lives themselves. Fossil fuels are doing nothing of the sort so the claim that it may be a "moral cause" of a similar kind is a downright lie, I would say.
Finally, let me fix some inaccuracies in the letter itself.
Our University invests in the fossil fuel industry: this is for us the central issue. We now know that fossil fuels cause climate change of unprecedented destructive potential.
The word "know" is incorrect and the second sentence should read "We have been brainwashed into believing a scientifically indefensible, ideologically motivated superstition that..."
We also know that many in this industry spend large sums of money to mislead the public, deny climate science, control legislation and regulation, and suppress alternative energy sources.
The sentence is incorrect. The corrected sentence should say "We also know that the climate alarmist octopus has spent about $50 billion just for the shameless propaganda of the unfounded climate fears, thus beating the funding of the actual science of climate change – the skeptics – by the 1,000 to one ratio. We are not even mentioning the first trillions of dollars that have been wasted by policies inspired by this atrocious pseudoscience."
Another, short paragraph irrationally criticizes Drew Gilpin Faust. No comment.
Our sense of urgency in signing this Letter cannot be overstated.
The corrected sentence says: "The nonsensical nature of this [uncorrected] letter cannot be overstated."
Humanity’s reliance on burning fossil fuels is leading to a marked warming of the Earth’s surface, a melting of ice the world over, a rise in sea levels, acidification of the oceans, and an extreme, wildly fluctuating, and unstable global climate.
After the fix, it says: Fossil fuels represent the most important source of energy that the mankind – especially its poorer part – enjoys. The warming in the last 250 years, after the end of the Little Ice Age, was modest and quite certainly at least O(50%) of it was caused by natural factors. There hasn't been any increase of the global mean temperature in the last 17 years and 8 months. Ocean acidification is a misnomer because the oceans will surely remain alkaline; at any rate, the change of the pH from 8.1 to 8.0 or 7.8 in a few centuries will be undetectable by almost all marine species that tolerate changes of pH by several units. Fluctuations have nothing whatever to do with the changes of the global mean temperature, whether it is purely natural or not. Ice melts and water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and they have done so many times in the recent 13.8 billion years.
These physical and chemical changes, some of which are expected to last hundreds, if not thousands, of years are already threatening the survival of countless species on all continents.
The increased CO2 levels are primarily a benefit for all plants – whose majority stops growing beneath 150 ppm and increases the growth rate roughly by 0.5% for each 1% of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The climatic effects of CO2 are negligible in comparison and they will be fully reverted within a century or so after the CO2 emissions stop as most of the excess CO2 is reabsorbed by the oceans and the biosphere.
And because of their effects on food production, water availability, air pollution, and the emergence and spread of human infectious diseases, they pose unparalleled risks to human health and life.
We protest against calling CO2 "pollution". It's a gas we call life and it doesn't do anything bad to infectious diseases or water availability. The concentration at which CO2 starts to be uncomfortable to sensitive individuals is more than 10 times higher than the current atmospheric concentration. Food production is increasing at elevated CO2 concentrations. At any rate, these changes – mostly positive changes – are negligible because the CO2 concentration is only increasing by 0.5% (relatively speaking) per year. It means that the agricultural yields per acre are probably increasing by about 0.25% every year in average just to the increasing CO2. On the contrary, the experts should think what to do to avoid mass starvation in the foreseeable future when CO2 starts to decrease again.
The World Health Organization estimated in 2005 that climate change caused some 150,000 deaths worldwide each year. The heads of the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2009 joined leaders of medical colleges from 12 other countries in calling climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
Here I don't propose a correction, mostly a shortening: Before us, tons of deluded ideologically blinded organizations as well as individuals that have no clue about the actual mechanisms have promoted equally indefensible statements about the impact of CO2 emissions.
I have already discussed that only twisted ethical values allow one to say that the "divestment from fossil fuels" is an ethical issue, a claim elaborated upon in several following paragraphs. It is really unethical for these folks who easily get hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public sources to try to strip less fortunate people – and nations – from the right to use the most available and abundant sources of energy, the fossil fuels. In many cases, their bare survival depends on these things.
Financially, no evidence exists that planned divestment would damage Harvard.
In their egotism, what the writers refuse to look at are damages they may cause to someone else. It's totally plausible that due to Harvard's brand, similar letters written at Harvard will damage the fossil fuel industry and consequently kill millions of innocent people.
Recent pronouncements from authoritative quarters support our call for action. Christiana Figueres, ...
Corrected: There are numerous stupid, uneducated yet aggressive females among the climate fearmongers, too. (Aggressive enough to take over politically influential chairs.) Christiana Figueres whose only life achievement and training is dominated by her failed attempt to teach reading to some indigenous tribes in Costa Rica is among the examples from the third world. This is the type of the characteristic "spiritual and intellectual authority" that the climate alarmist movement relies upon. Three months ago, this "lady" said that democracy was detrimental for the war on climate change, too. If we were not brainwashed extremists, we would view this lady as a toxic product and we would never touch her. But because we decided to join an extremist movement, even this toxic lady – a potential threat for the freedom and democracy in the whole civilized world – is good enough to be praised by us, Harvard professors.
I won't discuss some of the other hacks in the following paragraphs; Given her negligible market price or value for the mankind, I have wasted enough time with Figueres.
If any doubt remains about long-term plans of fossil fuel corporations, consider the signature statement of the American Petroleum Institute: “a secure energy future for generations to come.” API corporations are determined to produce more of the same “for generations”: more fossil fuel extraction, more sales, more denial or evasion of science. Coal companies, similarly, proclaim plans to continue mining for hundreds of years.
Jesus Christ, is a petroleum institute, so of course that its business in the next century or centuries will be petroleum or whatever will be similar enough so that they will gradually switch to it. If it were a university, not a petroleum institute, it would probably plan to deal with research and education in the coming centuries. If it were a bakery, it would plan to bake bread and baguettes. The proven classical fossil reserves are enough for 50 years at the current consumption rate, the likely not-yet-proven classical reserves are enough for a century, and the reserves are probably doubled or tripled when the currently known shale oil reserves are added. 200 or 300 extra years of future with fossil fuels is entirely conceivable (and the period may further increase in the future if people find new sources of hydrocarbons) so it is completely sensible for API to talk about about "generations" – it could talk about centuries, too.
Instead, divestment aims to expose corporate attitudes and change corporate behavior.
If you sign an idiotic letter or push your bosses to divest, you don't expose any corporate attitudes at all. You only expose your own political opinions, values, and your (not only political) thinking – or, more likely, the lack of it.
It seems self-contradictory to argue that Harvard owns a very small percentage of shares in a group of stocks (shares that, moreover, represent a small percentage of its own holdings) yet can nevertheless exert greater influence on corporate behavior by retaining rather than selling that stock as protest. If Harvard were a major shareholder, that argument might make sense, but Harvard is not.
Harvard may be used as a role model that will be followed by others, and that's why it's not self-contradictory to say that the impact of the divestment on the stock market might be vastly greater than what the actual holdings suggest. However, it's likely that the main impact of similar divestment campaigns won't be a genuine threat for the fossil-fuel industry or any other industry. The main impact is the poisoning of the political atmosphere at Harvard by the climate extremists and the bullying that makes the life of those who disagree with them less smooth, to put it mildly, and the reduced rationality and less scientific character of discussions and research on topics that touch the themes that have been classified as politically (or even ethically) sensitive by the extremists.
The President and Fellows are working assiduously to reduce the University’s greenhouse emissions, while maintaining investments that promote their increase locally and worldwide. The President and Fellows are right to be concerned about the “troubling inconsistency” of these investments.
Faust is even playing the idiotic game of "reducing the emissions" and it has even signed to a "code of responsible investment" (what a language: just like in Orwell's 1984) but it's clearly not enough for certain people. I would be getting lots of spam e-mail from assorted alarmists and deluded idiots (including some of those employed at the Massachusetts and University Halls) – e-mails with a similar content as this letter – and I have never figured out the way to complain about this spam at Harvard – I am not even sure whether it's possible to complain.
How, exactly, will the University “encourage” fossil fuel corporations in “addressing pressing environmental imperatives”?
For example, I hope that the visibility of extremists such as those who wrote this letter will convince the fossil-fuel companies to invest at least tens of millions of dollars for the climate skeptic communicators – in the recent years, they paid virtually nothing to inform the public about the truth when it comes to the relationships between CO2 and the climate.
In short, how long will Business As Usual continue?
The business as usual will continue until the next violent coup or revolution similar to the October Revolution in Russia – and let's hope that this time, the perpetrators of this coup will be shot and the business as usual will therefore continue after that, too. What's your problem with business as usual?
The questions in this section are not rhetorical. They require answers.
I've given you some.
We know that fossil fuel use must decrease. To achieve this goal, not only must research and education be pursued with vigor, pressure must also be exerted. If there is no pressure, then grievous harm due to climate change will accelerate and entrench itself for a span of time that will make the history of Harvard look short.
As long as we talk about true "fossil" fuels that have been under the ground for millions of years, their use has to decrease at some point but it may be 300 years from now. So far, the use has been growing and it is still growing although there are hints that the relative growth rate has decreased. It is pretty much inevitable that all sufficiently easily accessible fossil fuels will be burned soon or later. People would be pretty much stupid if they failed to do so.
We the undersigned are faculty and officers of the University, many with knowledge and research in climate science, energy, business management, ethics, and the effects of climate change on health, prosperity, and biodiversity.
Many have knowledge about something but unfortunately, most of the signatories are ignorant about all the major questions that matter in this debate.
Many are alumni and donors. We appeal to our colleagues, fellow alumni, and donors to join us in signing this statement, as an act of conscience and fiscal responsibility, and in asking the Corporation to divest, as soon as possible, its holdings in fossil fuel corporations.
I urge this small minority of extremists at Harvard to stop intimidating their colleagues. I've gone through it and I know what it feels like. There are a few thousands of similar victims at Harvard who may be afraid – for existential reasons – to say how unpleasant this harassment is. The silent majority of your colleagues disagrees with you. Whether Harvard will or will not divest from fossil fuels is a political – and economic – question and by suggesting that the opinions of a few percent of Harvard faculty should be decisive, you are showing a remarkable disrespect towards your colleagues.
Eich and gays
The reason that despite the legal encapsulation, this must be considered an emerging totalitarianism in the U.S., is the fact that the people who agree with Eich – the victims – are both numerous and apparently not revenging for these grievances. Why aren't the socially conservative people screwing the lives of the left-wing activists as well? Is it just because the conservative people are ethically superior? No. It's because the current system in the U.S. – and obviously not just the U.S. – they have lost their freedom and their tools to defend their political and ethical values. The "progressives" have spread their agents into more or less all official would-be "neutral" or "mainstream" institutions and now even important enough companies. The conservatives have been paralyzed by a totalitarian left-wing movement that is imposing its power in every damn corner of the mainstream American society. It doesn't matter much whether this movement has a charismatic head similar to Hitler or Stalin or writes about their dictatorship in the constitution. What matters is that it is applying absolute power – by the organized paralyzing of the opposition – in a totally analogous ways as Stalinists and communists. Be sure that I know something about the society where people are fired from jobs and schools because they are politically inconvenient to certain people who consider themselves "more equal citizens". So a boycott by a group of LGBT (or climate or any other misguided) activists is enough to fire anyone or destroy anyone's life; no one has the balls – more precisely, no one has a sufficient de facto freedom of expression – to simply tell them "sc*ew you, fa**ots". Show me at least 5 boards that have replied in this appropriate way.
Tell me hundreds of times that the left-wing bigots and cowards in Mozilla have a right to fire the CEO for whatever reason. They may have the right. But others have the moral duty to fight against these individuals who are undermining the very basic fabric of the civilized Western society. No one is fighting them because everyone is scared by them and their Gestapo-like powers. Even in tense Russia, the Russian Academy of Sciences reverted its earlier decision to dismiss the historian Zubov who had said that the annexation of Crimea was just as bad as the Anschluss of Austria by the Third Reich.
In the video above, Stephen Colbert was apparently genuinely surprised by Andrew Sullivan's defense of Eich. Sullivan is a gay-married gay but he realizes that it is pernicious to fire people for their true beliefs. It seems that Colbert was really surprised because his general task to emulate Bill O'Reilly disappeared for a while, he didn't know what to say for a minute.