At its core, addressing climate change is a philosophical debate about whether we have the moral authority to maximize resource consumption today at the expense of resource availability for future generations. But, it is also a practical problem full of logistical challenges. Even if we can agree that significant change is necessary, how and when to go about it raises specific issues. The contrast between these two elements of the climate change debate are captured succinctly in the article in the url below – an editorial in the WSJ relating what it describes as "a lesson in common sense" that occurred recently at Oxford University:
"That's exactly what the bursar at St. John's College—the most richly endowed college at Oxford—delivered when he responded to students occupying his 15th-century quadrangle and refusing to leave until the college divested its oil-company shares. The students want the college to sell the more than $10 million of its endowment now invested in Shell and BP, and they want it now."
In response to the students' demands, Andrew Parker, the bursar, took a controversial stance:
"'I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,' he wrote. 'But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.'"
Following the calls of outrage and accusations that Parker was minimizing the issue, being unnecessarily provocative, and endangering the students' health given that it is the middle of winter, the bursar continued:
"You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal)."
The journey from idealism to practical reality can be short when framed effectively.
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A Heated Oxford Exchange
February 3, 2020
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final