• Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

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Hey, Dr. President -- get ready for a road trip!

Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has two recent NYT op-ed pieces, It's Easy Being Green and Cassandras of Climate. Krugman points out that the reason we (the whole world, but most clearly the USA) aren't doing something about climate change is that we lack the political will that results from looking further than the end of our collective nose. The truth is too inconvenient to the economic powers that be.

September 29, 2009
 

Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has two recent NYT op-ed pieces, It's Easy Being Green and Cassandras of Climate. Krugman points out that the reason we (the whole world, but most clearly the USA) aren't doing something about climate change is that we lack the political will that results from looking further than the end of our collective nose. The truth is too inconvenient to the economic powers that be. No surprise there -- Krugman has "gotten it" for quite a while. Changing the energy base of the economy will create both winners and losers; yesterday's winners are likely to be tomorrow's losers, and they're spending vast quantities of money to make sure that doesn't happen.

The more recent convert (and, until recently, a devotee of globalism uber alles) is Tom Friedman. But now not only does Friedman now "get it", he recently pointed out an even more inconvenient truth: in terms of the development of green energy, China is positioning itself to beat our pants off.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (business operations, not academe or punditry), three major utilities have just dropped membership in the US Chamber of Commerce in protest of its antagonistic stand on climate action, and Nike is reportedly considering doing the same. All this within a single week, so (we can hope that) maybe it's the start of a tsunami within business politics as usual.

Maybe, just maybe, major players outside the beltway are starting to re-tilt the playing field to favor facts over well-funded fantasies. Inside the beltway, of course, the fantasy world is still spinning in all its glory.

On the off chance that Congress ever figures out how the USA can afford to save all the money on health care that every other developed country is saving (while achieving better outcomes than we do), its focus will shift to climate change. When that happens, we need business executives, pundits, and everyone else who "gets it" to make as much noise as possible.

And we need all those PCC signatories -- you know, the 600+ college and university presidents who proved themselves willing to stand up in public figuratively -- to stand up in public literally. We need them to hie themselves to our nation's capital, to button-hole their states' elected representatives, to speak to the press (local, national, global), and to demand action. The whole idea of the PCC is for higher ed to demonstrate leadership on this critical issue. The way things are right now, that's what leadership looks like. Or should.

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