Harvard's Deep Green Pockets

Australian science writer Jo Nova estimates that since 1989 the U.S. government has spent $79 billion on global warming-friendly climate research. Nova notes that the "figure does not include money from other western governments, private industry, [or universities] and is not adjusted for inflation," and yet even this partial sum is 3,500 times the $23 million spent by Exxon in the same period. Global warming alarmists however continue to accuse skeptics of being duped by disinformation from well-funded carbon polluters, while they seem incapable of recognizing the far greater funding that supports their own efforts.

Case in point: I attended a "Harvard Thinks Green" program last week, which promised "6 all-star environmental faculty, 6 big green ideas." (According to the flyer, "Green is the new crimson.") The most polemical of the six speakers was medical doctor Eric Chivian, a founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the nuclear freeze group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. One of Chivian's big green ideas: "legal restrictions on oil consumption." Dr. Chivian lashed out at the evil Koch brothers, enunciating their middle initials as further evidence of their perfidy: "Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch," who together with "vested interests" like Exxon-Mobil, have spent "tens of millions of dollars" on a "disinformation campaign," aided by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

Vested interests? Take a look in the mirror, Dr. Chivian. His speech came from the podium in Saunders Theatre, a sumptuous wood-paneled auditorium in H.H. Richardson's Memorial Hall, a clubhouse for the 1% at Harvard University. Dr. Chivian earns his generous salary as Founder/Director of the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, which is "designated an official 'Collaborating Center' of the United Nations Environment Programme." The Center's Corporate Council includes 3M, Baxter (pharmaceuticals & medical devices), Johnson & Johnson, and Siemens. These are some deep pockets and vested interests.

Looking further: The sponsor of the evening was the Harvard Office for Sustainability, which is staffed by fifteen full-time employees, holding graduate degrees in things like Public Administration and the Sociology of Religion/Gender Studies. They hold titles like: Manager, Sustainability Communications; Manager, Sustainability Engagement; Coordinator, Business and Finance Sustainability Engagement Program; or Coordinator, FAS Green Resource Efficiency Program.

A separate department called Green Building Services employs seven full-time employees and manages student volunteer teams at Harvard College, the Business School and the Law School.

Harvard students can apply for the following 10-hour-a-week internships: Sustainability Innovation Challenge Engagement Assistant, OFS Events and Sustainability Engagement Intern, Housing and Real Estate Design Internship, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Research Assistant, Green Skillet Team Leader, Green Skillet Assessor, Green Office Liaison and the Green Ribbon Commission Internship.

Over at the Graduate School of Design there's the Sustainable Design program G(SD)2. And Harvard Business School has a Green Living Program, "a peer-to-peer education program" that...well, you get the idea.

These various activities are supported by the Harvard University Task Force on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions, commissioned by President Drew Faust, which is committed to reduce the University's GHGs through 2016. In other words, these people will not be losing their jobs any time soon, no matter what happens at COP-18.

(Obligatory disclaimer: investment in sustainability can produce good things; improving the efficiency of heating systems, for example, is a worthwhile goal that requires no further justification. If the foundation of the program is carbon dioxide phobia, bad decisions will be made.)

Dr. Chivian further explained that climate science is too technical for the public to grasp, leaving the masses "vulnerable to having the wool pulled over their eyes." I don't accept the premise that only experts are qualified to discuss climate science, but it is nevertheless interesting to note that none of the all-star environmental faculty is a climate scientist. James McCarthy, a professor of Biological Oceanography and one of the lead authors of the UN IPCC, comes the closest. His field is related to climate change, but he studies the effects of climate on ocean life, not the causes of changing climate. For comparison, here's the Wikipedia entry for Professor Richard Lindzen, one of the leading skeptics of the anthropogenic global warming theory:

atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology[,] Lindzen is known for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and books.

The other Green Thinkers were from Harvard Law School, Harvard's Graduate School of Design (Architecture), the Harvard Medical School, and two from the Harvard Business School (Management Practice and Environmental Management).

Dr. Chivian is trained in Psychiatry.

Might not these learned men be vulnerable to having the wool pulled over their eyes by agenda-driven organizations like the IPCC?

Imagine these considerable efforts at one university multiplied at thousands of private and governmental institutions. This lobbying network is not only well-funded and extensive, it also has a built-in mechanism for self-perpetuation: the green interns and all the students being taught by all-star environmental professors will supply the next generation with its Sustainability Engagement Managers. Exxon can't come anywhere close to competing with this.

Climate change skeptics have reason to be optimistic that global warming activists are fighting a losing battle. The Durban climate conference, described by the Wall Street Journal as "a wash out," passed another meaningless resolution promising action by 2020. At the Think Green event, Harvard Law professor Richard Lazarus lamented that President Obama used the phrase "climate change" or "global warming" in speeches 69 times in 2009, 73 times in 2010 and only once in 2011, leading to what he sees as "a crisis in environmental lawmaking"-his crisis being that nothing is happening. In other words, climate legislation like Cap and Trade is dead. The scientific front also brings promising news; mainstream Science magazine reports a study summarized by The Economist: "Good news at last? The climate may not be as sensitive to carbon dioxide as previously believed."

Despite this news, don't count on the environmentalists occupying our universities to pack up their tents and go home.

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