The wet kiss you slathered on nihilist Richard Rorty, whom you dubbed “a great American pragmatist,” leads me to believe that you favor the realist school. So do I, so let’s get real about global warming: we need to acknowledge both the cause (Wesleyan’s ’really hot’ student body) and the solution (cold showers).
What’s that you say? The students wouldn’t like cold showers? Michael, you stand in the boots of Bigfoot Bennet; don’t fritter away the chance to fill them: Let it be known right off the bat that any student who makes a pitch dissenting from your really cool idea will be sent to the showers.
Let’s talk about climate change. Over a thousand years ago, when Greenland acquired its name, the planet was warmer. Then came “the little ice age” (1500-1850), followed by this warming trend. In ten to 15 years the planet again will cool off, according to meteorologist William Gray. The Sydney Morning Herald (Oct. 14) summarizes his rationale: “…a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures—related to the amount of salt in ocean water—was responsible for the global warming…. However, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon….” Should that happen, I greatly fear that the mavens of global warming will drown themselves in denial.
And yet, just 30 years ago they were chilling us with the specter of global cooling: “Arctic Winter,’ starring ’the Abominable Snowman’—coming to a theater near you!” Now we have “An Inconvenient Truth”, climatologist Gore’s remake of “Apocalypse Now.” If global warming doesn’t kill us, his overheated rhetoric will.
Dr. Gray terms the claim that humans are responsible for global warming “ridiculous.” He goes on to say: “It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong. But they also know that they’d never get any grants if they spoke out.” And even if Gray is mistaken, would global warming be the worst of all possible worlds? Many more people die of cold than heat. Estimates posit that by the year 2050 some 400,000 will die if the temperature rises, but 1.8 million will die if it drops. Gore hypes the lower number; the higher number the Nobel winner wonderfully ignores.
He hypes the specter of rising tides produced by melting glaciers, but what of the fact that global warming replaces frozen land with greenery (a coolant and a consumer of carbon dioxide) and arable land? Plausibly speaking, fewer glaciers = more cropland. That equation, it seems to me, would solve some problems plaguing Les Miserables’ gaunt and starving.
Alarmism here a Wes isn’t merely sexy, it’s the lay of the land. As University President, Michael, no doubt you are sorely tempted to warmly embrace—indeed, get down and dirty with—the lay of the land; that’s perfectly understandable. Nevertheless, if I were you, I’d lend an ear to a scrambled metaphor: People who pull a false alarm oft end up with egg on their face.
Moving on, The Argus (Oct. 2) reports that at the first meeting of the Wesleyan Student Assembly you stressed the need to “spread the word” about what makes Wes distinctive. Well, thanks to a recent book review in the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 4); you’ll be getting some well-deserved, much needed help. The book, a recent release from Yale University Press, is entitled “Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life.” The author is Yale Professor Anthony T. Kronman, a former dean of its law school. The review of the book is entitled “Hitting the Books Without Having a Clue.” You say it sounds sharply worded? Well, the better to circumcise the foreskin of your heart. Here’s the money paragraph:
“Mr. Kronman’s chapter on political correctness is a calm indictment of what multiculturalism and a misguided idea of ’diversity’ have done to our universities’ humanities departments. ’The more a classroom resembles a gathering of delegates speaking on behalf of the groups they represent,’ he writes, ’the less congenial a place it becomes in which to explore questions of a personally meaningful kind including, above all, the questions of what ultimately matters in life and why. In such a classroom, students encounter each other not as individuals but as spokespersons instead. They accept or reject their teachers as role models more on account of the group to which they belong and less because of their individual qualities of character and intellect. And the works they study are regarded more as statements of group membership than as creations of men and women with viewpoints uniquely their own.’ Anyone who has perused the course catalog of a liberal-arts college—Wesleyan’s English department, for instance, offers ’Chicina Lesbian Literature: Speaking in Tongues’ and ’Law, Race, and Literature: An Introduction to Critical Race Theory’—will recognize what Mr. Kronman is talking about.”
Michael, you simply can’t buy that kind of publicity!