In an email last month to students, faculty, staff Johns Hopkins University president William R. Brody announced a sweeping new university-wide initiative to combat climate change.This initiative and the subsequent policies could have serious implications for individual and academic freedom at Johns Hopkins, while providing an opportunity for the university to reap large research funding.
Taking his cue from the alarmists, Brody does not use the term “global warming”, which is what he really means, because “climate change” is now the preferred term of the alarmists because their opponents have gained traction and some scientists have become skeptics. Instead of “global warming,” the alarmists now call their bête noir “climate change” to make their extreme agenda more palatable to the public. This is ironic because Johns Hopkins School of Public Health professor Cindy Parker called “global warming” the term that folks tend to think of as not a big deal.
There is near-unanimous agreement in the scientific community that the emission of greenhouse gases caused by human activity is contributing substantially to global climate change. It is clear that curbing these emissions poses asignificant challenge for future generations. It is also clear that universities must play a central role in meeting this challenge. We must forge new knowledge, use that knowledge to develop and implement solutions, and pass along that knowledge so that our students will have the necessary tools to help solve our problems. Johns Hopkins is eager to rise to this immense challenge. I believe that sustainable solutions to the global climate change problem will require both changes in individual behavior and cultural changes. Johns Hopkins will take a leadership role in discovering both practical and innovative changes and will promote their adoption. As of today, I am committing The Johns Hopkins University to become a driving force for developing solutions to the climate change problem. To that end, we are adopting the following four guiding principles in operations, research, and scholarship:
*We will reduce, withthe vision of carbon neutrality,the emissions of greenhouse gases derived from university operations. We will doso in a timely manner that allows for flexibility, incorporation of new technologies and financial stewardship.
*We will share knowledge and experience with the community, offering leadership and assistance on actions that can improve our surroundings while reducing the carbon footprint of the Baltimore-Washington region.
*We will leverage our strengths in science, technology, public health, and public policy to contribute to finding solutions to issues related to climate change on a global level.
*We will incorporate student involvement as an essential element in all relevant greenhouse gas emissions reductions strategies.To implement these principles Brody commissioned a task force to:
a. Develop a Comprehensive Climate Strategic Plan. The plan will cover the objectives described in recent recommendations to me from the Johns HopkinsSustainability Committee.
b. Create an interdisciplinary working group, comprising university experts from different divisions, to focus on innovative and novel approaches to creating the appropriate incentives for individual, group and societal behavior changes as they relate to climate change.
c. Begin to develop strong relationships with state and local governments within the greater Baltimore-Washington region, exploring how wecan collaboratively address climate change issues.
It is disconcerting that Brody, a man trained in science and medicine could unequivocally state that, “there is near-unanimous agreement in the scientific community,” that human activity is the cause of global climate change. What Brody won't admit, is that debate is not over. In fact, it never took place. The alarmists just shouted “the debate is over” and that they won and we should all replace those incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs and cede the sovereignty to set our own energy policy to an unaccountable international body.
This sweeping policy initiative could put the future of free and open intellectual inquiry at Johns Hopkins in jeopardy. Will Johns Hopkins allow or support climate change research that contradicts the so-called “consensus?” How will this new policy affect scientists and researchers, whose research findings contradict its goals? Will they be silenced and intimidated as other contrarian scientists have?
What will be the “appropriate incentives for individual, group and societal behavior changes” the new policy will entail. Will the university pursue these incentives be through persuasion or coercion? This is an especially important question given the university administration’s dreadful record on free speech and individual freedom.
What is involved in developing those “strong relationships with state and local governments?” Will this development involve Brody or administration officials lobbying Annapolis for more frivolous spending and oppressive taxes like the Chesapeake Bay Green Fund and the Global Warming Solutions Act?
Corporate rent seekers like General Electric, British Petroleum, and the granddaddy of them all Enron signed on to global warming hysteria to get from government what they cannot obtain on the free market. Therefore, it should be no shock that Johns Hopkins has similarly positioned itself given that global warming alarmists have received over $50 billion in research funds to study a one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century.
Positioning itself as an optimal institution to receive funding is a paramount activity for a research institution like Johns Hopkins, whose institutional motto is Veritas vos liberabit (The truth shall make you free). Given the dubious science of global warming and the university’s hostility toward free speech, it remains to be seen whether the administration’s thirst for research dollars will trump its responsibility to uphold the constitutional and academic rights of its students, faculty and staff.