The Financial Times has an article on how corporations, which formerly touted their commitment to the environment as a marketing ploy, now really believe in the eco-cause. More and more business schools have "infused" sustainability into the curriculum due to student and corporate demand:
A cynic might question how deeply companies believe in the value of social responsibility but Tom Lyon, director of the Erb Institute at University of Michigan who holds an endowed chair at the school from Dow Chemical, insists that companies that approach him are “sincere”. “I am sure there’s some degree of reputation and image building, but there is also a sincere effort to be connected with a university. These companies want to be up to speed on the latest thinking, to know what students are thinking and to understand how to get the next generation’s best and brightest to come work for them.”
A sustainability director at Yale said, “We know you can get filthy rich destroying the planet, but now we’re starting to think about how you can make lots of money saving the planet.”
I have been reading Karl Popper's Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume I and am awestruck with Popper's scholarship and its relevance to currently percolating issues such as social justice education, political correctness and climate change research. Popper shows that Plato is at the root of totalitarianism. Plato re-defined justice to mean the individual's existence for the good of the state; conceived of a ruling elite given politically correct indoctrination; and advocated total social control of day-to-day life. Popper argues that Plato bases all of this on his tribalist and naturalist morality, that is, his belief that morals are rooted in nature. Much like today's environmentalists, Plato favored a return to primitive olden times before the innovation that had occurred in Athens. Plato defined justice just as social justice educators do, namely, that the just is what is socially good. The guardians, the ruling elite, were to receive a social justice-based education. Plato intensely disliked Athenian democracy and the steps that Pericles and others had made to define justice as equality before the law. Rather, public morality would be defined by the politically correct guardian class. Morality, moderation and justice would mean adherence to one's place and obedience to authority. Like Plato, today's environmentalists believe that the primitive is best and that human innovation is evil. Much as the cap and trade bill attempts to assert nationally centralized authority over day-day-life, overseen by a Platonic "administrator" or philosopher king, so Plato believed that the greatest virtues were to be obedient or to lead others.
This is a guest article from Alex Berezow, a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology at the University of Washington. The opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the official position of the National Association of Scholars. Remember when President Obama said that he was going to “restore science to its rightful place”? Apparently, that statement needed to be translated from the vagaries of “hope and change” to modern English: Right-wing anti-science policies are out; left-wing anti-science policies are in. To Mr. Obama’s credit, he has extended federal dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research far beyond what President Bush allowed. However, that executive order marks both the beginning and the end of his love affair with sound science. For starters, President Obama appointed Cass Sunstein as the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Sunstein believes that all recreational hunting should be banned. He also believes that meat consumption should be phased out in the United States, and he holds the unique belief that animals should have the right to sue humans in court. Naturally, the animal would be represented by a human lawyer—a policy other than that would just be silly. But who exactly would represent the animals in court is unclear at this point. Dr. Doolittle might be available, though. All satire aside, with someone this disconnected from reality working in the White House, one wonders what impact he could have on the ability of scientists to conduct biomedical animal research. Also, remember Mr. Obama’s obsession with creating green technology jobs as a way of leading us out of the recession? According to a report described by George Will in his Washington Post column, Spain’s massive subsidization of renewable energy has cost that country 110,000 jobs. Far from helping Spain’s economic crisis, this foolish subsidization appears to have contributed to its mind-blowing 19.3% unemployment rate. As if this weren’t bad enough, a fantastic op/ed by Joel Frezza brought up several more examples of “junk science” coming from the White House, a few of which I’ll summarize and expand upon. Firstly, the administration has given in to unsubstantiated claims by the Left that certain vaccine components are unsafe, despite the fact that studies have proven the claims to be false. (For instance, medical experts like Jim Carrey insist vaccines cause autism.) Unbelievably, the Obama Administration has ignored the research findings of modern medicine and issued a decree that our nation’s swine flu vaccines should have lower amounts of thimerosal. (Thimerosal is the preservative erroneously believed to cause autism.) This last-minute decision has caused backups at the pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine, and it has contributed to the swine flu vaccine shortage. Additionally, the Obama Administration has neglected to remove a federal ban on the use of certain adjuvants (immune-stimulating chemicals) which can help stretch limited vaccine supplies. This, too, has contributed to the national flu vaccine shortage. Mr. Frezza goes on to describe how the Obama Administration is asking for areas of Alaska to be deemed “critical habitat” for polar bears. This move could severely limit the ability to drill for oil and gas in the region, in a time when our nation is in desperate need of energy sources. It appears that, once again, Mr. Obama has caved to propaganda-spewing environmentalists who have ignored recent evidence indicating that polar bear populations are increasing. In fact, polar bear researcher Mitch Taylor claims that of the 19 populations of polar bears, only two have exhibited declining numbers. As a side issue, it’s also interesting to note that people like Captain Planet (Al Gore) who refer to polar bears as “endangered” don’t even have their facts straight: Polar bears are officially listed as “vulnerable”—an entirely different conservation status. This status is given to animals which may become endangered if conditions don’t change. Arguably, however, conditions are changing because their population has been increasing. Finally, Mr. Frezza points out the economically ludicrous and scientifically unsound subsidization of biofuels. Liberals see the subsidization of biofuels as killing two birds with one stone: Fixing the planet and helping out America’s farmers. However, science has something entirely different to say about biofuels. The production of biofuels emits nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas. The planet, unfortunately, doesn’t find it very funny, since nitrous oxide is a much more potent contributor to the greenhouse effect than is carbon dioxide. As The Economist points out in this article, a policy meant to make things better is merely an expensive way of making things worse. Honestly, this list could go on and on. What is so infuriating is the fact that Mr. Obama self-righteously proclaimed to be the protector of science, when the truth is that he simply replaced Mr. Bush’s special interests with his own. In what has to be the most stunning broken promise in Mr. Obama’s presidency, instead of “restoring science,” he has simply resorted to “politics as usual.”
Watch for this new eco-trend on campus: parking restrictions. At the University of Toledo, according to the Reformer's Blog, the best parking is reserved for hybrid vehicles, making drivers of regular cars walk further. And the University of Colorado at Boulder is "seriously considering" a ban on parking on campus. The proposed ban would be part of UC-Boulder's efforts to fulfill its ACUPCC commitments. Although it would reduce emissions, it would not save the university money, but would cost over $1 million in parking permits. It also costs the students, who already pay a fee to cover bus transportation and who would, under a parking ban, be forced to pay for alternate parking and transportation to campus.
NAS has published an interview with Holly Swanson, the founder and director of an Oregon-based group called Operation Green Out! (the exclamation point is part of its name!). We first learned of Operation Green Out! while researching Second Nature, an organization that seeks to make sustainability the “foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.” We found that thus far Operation Green Out! seems to be the sole challenger of Second Nature’s education for sustainability agenda, and that it has launched a campaign “to get green politics out in the open and out of the classroom.” Holly Swanson, the organization’s founder and director, is the author of Set Up and Sold Out: Find Out What Green Really Means, and she is a nationwide speaker on the “Green movement” and its “plan to use public education to politically indoctrinate.” By way of introducing NAS members and readers to Ms. Swanson and Operation Green Out! we present this interview. We are glad to have found an organization that sees the dangers the sustainability movement (Swanson calls it "the Greens") poses for education. As Ms. Swanson puts it,
The Education for Sustainability movement is harmful because this movement is swiftly changing the role of public education in America from a ‘politically neutral system’ to a ‘politically driven system’ rooted in the ideology of the Greens and designed to produce mass compliance and predictable support for one ideology or single party rule.
It's good to know we're not alone in saying this.
“Sustainable Sausage,” a blog that promotes “sustainability for twenty somethings” features the views of three New Zealanders, Lisa, Kavi, and Janelle. One of the Kiwi sausage-makers found her way to Ashley’s and my provocative press release from a month ago, Sustainability is a Waste: 10 Reasons to Oppose the Sustainability Movement on Your Campus, and was appropriately provoked. She imagines we invite “huge piles of garbage all over the world,” and also accuses us of confusing Soviet communism with the Green movement. Ah, no. Communist regimes proved themselves in the last century to be the most environmentally destructive in human history. The Soviet Union gave us not only Chernobyl, but massive pollution in the Urals; uncontrolled radiological releases including the now famous Chelyabinsk-65 release in 1957 that contaminated 20,000 square kilometers and the Tomsk-7 release in 1993 that poisoned another 100 square kilometers; chemical dumps on the Baltic Seabed; the attempt in the 1970s to re-channel northern-flowing rivers with nuclear explosions; and the destruction of the Aral Sea to irrigate deserts. The modern West has not always been a good steward of the environment, but there is nothing in the West in the last century remotely on the level of heedless destruction of the environment carried out by communist regimes. It might, however, be a good thing if promoters of the sustainability movement with its emphasis on central planning and an ideology of shared sacrifice showed a little awareness of where public policy based on those principles has led in recent times. We never drew or implied a comparison of communism with the sustainability movement. Yet Lisa-Kavi-Janelle are so baffled by our criticisms of the sustainability movement that they jump to the idea that when we said “sustainability” we really meant “communism.” Sorry, Kiwis. When we said “sustainability” we meant “sustainability.” And we are not at all keen on having “huge piles of garbage all over the world.” We are just keen on making sure that people like you—people who seem ignorant of recent history and determined to promote the latest feel-good cause without any understanding of its larger social implications—are put on the spot.