As Wesfest dawned on campus this past week, and as the admissions office was preparing to welcome perhaps the most highly qualified class Wesleyan has yet admitted, an unpleasant reminder of the campus’s activist underside once more reared its head. Tents were pitched on Foss Hill by a collection of (who else) environmental activists, demanding that Connecticut “build on the state’s civic and environmental leadership to move to 100 percent clean electricity in ten years,” to quote the missive published by the group’s leaders in The Argus. And fittingly, given the swelling of these activists’ collective sense of self-importance (and the corresponding need for it to be punctured), the tents dotting Foss Hill to signify their demands resemble nothing so much as multicolored zits.

Fortunately, the needed popping can be readily supplied. It is no surprise to this author that the people responsible for this latest excursion into romanticized Luddism are precisely the same people responsible for the embarrassing “350” event last semester – an event whose glib apologists were swiftly silenced by the revelation of Climategate, and its attendant implications that climate scientists had been once more seduced by the lure of environmental fundamentalism into falsifying evidence. Fortunately, the justifications offered for this unnecessary sequel to the “350” debacle are a tad more honest. For instance, we are told by the group’s spokespeople that, “Connecticut will declare itself 100 percent opposed to the harmful health effects that coal mining inflicts on Appalachian communities” and that, if that particular tough-talking move is not enough, “We will declare ourselves 100 percent opposed to contributing to the melting of Himalayan glaciers, which currently threatens communities in Bangladesh that are already vulnerable to flooding.” And, in what may be the most stunning assertion of the piece, the authors declare that, “People around the world already understand that dirty fossil fuels are not our future.”

Where to start? One supposes that the obvious first question is why on earth it is any of Connecticut’s business what happens in Appalachia, or why Appalachia should care if Connecticut opposes what happens there. Perhaps this is merely cynicism, but it seems to this author that the wealthiest state in the union has no business at all telling poorer areas how much it opposes what happens to them. Moreover, it strikes this author as distinctly regressive for a collection of self-appointed environmental college commissars to presume to take away investments from the Appalachian coal industry, thus depriving countless workers of their jobs and means of sustenance, simply because they think the air is too dirty. Now, to be sure, a regressive policy may be the only reasonable one. However, to the extent that the case for environmental alarmism constructed by this collection of campsite carriers-on is based solely on gooey, over-emotional appeals to egalitarian sentiment, it is surely hypocritical for said carriers-on to tacitly endorse such a policy.

Of course, while the appeals to the now-discredited idea of human-caused climate change are more thinly veiled in this particular piece, that does not mean they are nonexistent. Consider, for instance, the claim that “we will declare ourselves 100 percent opposed to contributing to the melting of Himalayan glaciers, which currently threatens communities in Bangladesh that are already vulnerable to flooding.” The assumption that “dirty” coal contributes in any way to said melting is simply a function of sneaking wrongheaded assumptions under the radar. Moreover, even if we presume that the assumption is true (against every scandalous trace of evidence), the same two questions inescapably present themselves.

Firstly, assuming it is true that this melting affects communities in Bangladesh adversely, so what? The authors of this statement, Sam Bernhardt ’10 and Dan Levine ’12, provide no evidence that Bangladesh’s interests are remotely relevant to America’s interests, or to the interests of Wesleyan students. Moreover, why should we oppose the melting of Himalayan glaciers in this context? Is Bangladesh a major trading partner, the loss of whose consumption would damage the United States? If not, then why should Connecticut (a member of the United States) care about it? Levine and Bernhardt, as private citizens, are free to pour their own money into whatever cause they like, but for the state of Connecticut to act in a way not related to the interests of its citizens is surely a violation of the social contract.

Secondly, presuming that Connecticut does have interests in this issue, does it follow that our opposition (whether of the 100 percent, 50 percent or 25 percent variety) will actually do anything? Surely, this is an issue which the entire United States must take up in order to be relevant, and given that the interests of Connecticut are not necessarily the interests of other states, doesn’t it thus follow that another burden arises for the environmentalists to meet?

And while we’re on the subject, is it too much to ask for them to anticipate a few objections before they go around publishing intellectually stultifying calls to action and mucking up our hills with tents and making prefrosh see us as over-idealistic hankerers after the Stone Age, rather than one of the best colleges in the country? A slight reminder to the environmentalists is overdue: you have perfectly good dorms. Get back inside them. There are starving children in Bangladesh.

  • David Lott, ’65

    Brevity please.

  • Myheos Holt

    It’s a column, not a Wespeak. There’s a minimum word limit.

  • David Lott, ’65

    You mean they require a lot of words? No wonder the writing in the Argus is so poor.

  • Mytheos Holt

    Any professional or even semi-professional journalistic outfit has minimum word limits, and I would know, since I work for some of them. The Argus’s standard is not any more unreasonable than any professional organization I have worked for. I also must point out that “a lot of words” is completely in the eye of the beholder.

  • Adam Rashkoff ’13

    “the now-discredited idea of human-caused climate change ”

    you are ridiculous

  • Mytheos Holt

    Behold, the only way to refute an argument that most Wesleyan students understand.

  • Adam Rashkoff ’13

    You can’t just ignore an accepted scientific consensus because it doesn’t fit into your republican worldview. Also, you can’t in good conscience claim that the theory of anthropomorphic climate change has been refuted. Doing so is, quite simply, RIDICULOUS.

  • Mytheos Holt

    In re “scientific consensus,” look up “Climategate” and stop wasting my time with outdated Democratic talking points.

  • Adam Rashkoff ’13

    Climategate doesn’t change the fact that anthropomorphic climate change is still an accepted theory among most scientists, hence, a scientific consensus. A belief in science isn’t a Democratic talking point, it is common sense.

    The fact that this issue has become so politicized shows that people will believe what they want to believe. If they are disturbed by a concept they will find wrinkles in its fabric, magnify them, and use them to justify a rejection of relevant information. It disturbs me that you, and so many other self-proclaimed critical thinkers like you, don’t realize this. Yes, skepticism is essential. But the way you go about it – using it to justify your own dogma – is tantamount to extremism.

  • Mytheos Holt

    Anthropomorphic? Okay, now I really see no reason to keep arguing. It’s called anthropogenic global warming. And save the “extremist” taradiddle for someone who cares. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

  • Anonymous

    You got me! I made an adjectival snafu. I guess that invalidates the entirety of my argument, just like Climategate invalidates the entirety of anthropogenic climate change. Mytheos, I don’t have a problem with the individual making an impassioned defense of what they believe in. But please, don’t pretend to be an informed, critical thinker if you are going to willfully ignore relevant information in doing so.

  • Adam Rashkoff ’13

    The last post was mine, just so you know.

  • Mytheos Holt

    You are clearly right. Environmental erection is the paramour concern of all opponents of anthropomorphic global warming. Indeed, we must institute new retractions to prevent further defecation in the ozone layer.

    Am I behaving like an informed, critical thinker correctly now?

  • Adam Rashkoff ’13

    Nope, you’re behaving like an asshole.

  • Mytheos Holt

    Watch next week as Captain Obvious defeats the might of Professor Opaque and his robot of implication!

  • Anon

    Thank you so much for posting this.

    Information was falsified to support the theory of human driven global warming. Also, do your fucking protests some other day you hippies.

  • Anon

    Anthropomorphic Climate Change- the most disappointing furry ever.

  • Olivia Alperstein ’14

    Um, wow. I’m an incoming freshman who was just sampling the Argus fare, and I happened upon this. Bravo for touting the other point of view on climate change, Mytheos- it’s good to open up dialogue. But don’t you think you can do it with a little more respect? I have seen Tea Partiers and liberal progressives find common ground, so I’m sure you can do the same with environmentalists.

    Personally, I disagree with your view that global warming is not man-made, based on scientific fact. However, I don’t take issue with your opinion on that so much as your statement that Connecticut residents shouldn’t care about what happens in Appalachia because it isn’t in CT, or in Bangladesh because it’s not part of the US. What, so we shouldn’t care about children dying of AIDS in Africa because they’re on another continent? That’s a dangerous argument, dangerous for the world because if we selfishly look out for our own interests only and we all don’t care about others or try to improve their lives, we’ll all be stuck with the same problems that have existed for centuries. More wars, more poverty, more politics as usual, more economic disasters, and yes, more heckling environmentalists.

    Oh, great. I guess I gave myself away- I’m one of those “hippies”/ “activists” because I talk about changing the world and all that shit. But I do believe that Wesleyan is a place that encourages students to try to effect change- that’s why I chose Wesleyan above all other colleges, and why so many of my classmates did as well. And if you’re miffed by the presence of a couple of environmentalists with the gall to put up tents at WesFest, believe me, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  • Ahem