On a recent trip to Ukraine, I was lucky to witness a successful business project that shows Ukraine’s progress towards capitalism, following a trail blazed by the United States more than two hundred years ago.
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, tremors rock Haiti, 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the capital city. Shaking with a force of 31.6 megatons or 31 small-nukes, Port-au-Prince crumbled. Buildings once vertical lay shattered across the landscape. Devastation spread as the poorest country in the west lost its entire power grid.
The already fragile infrastructure was now broken. Combined with, “poor infrastructure, landslides, vulnerable neighborhoods, no strict building codes, [and] a high density population,” recovery seemed hopeless.1
And then came relief! Obama promised a “swift, coordinated and aggressive” effort.2 The Red Cross and U.N. rushed to provide relief as U.S. and international charities followed. Philanthropic Americans started new causes and poured money into the country.
However, that is not the whole story. Interwoven in the epic relief effort is a narrative of corruption, scam and politicization of crisis.
Starting at the top, the over 3,000 NGOs have taken most of the donations to effectively pay their employees. The America Red Cross has already admitted to financing their debt with donations. After nearly two month relief efforts and $354 million collections, almost half of the 1.3 million homeless don’t even have a tarp for the rainy season.3 More substantially, not even one-third of the collected money has been spent on relief. Instead it stays stagnant in the bank accounts of large NGOs.
Even worse is the bottom feeders of the crisis, out scam the average Americans. According to Symantec Corp, maker of Norton Antivirus, the first scam e-mails about the Haiti earthquake appeared only two days after the quake.4 Scammers send e-mails requesting money for children in Haiti, when they are actually routing your relief money to pay for their child support!
So, what has Lehigh been doing about the earthquake?
Lehigh has been using Haiti issues as a source of free publicity and program subsidies. Three programs in specific are have used this crisis as a source of publicity.
Starting with the publicity stunts, the Brown and White took a non-Haiti related speaker on campus, Ellen Gustafson, and painted her speech and the associated program as a Haiti only front cover news issue. Ellen came to Lehigh to speak on leadership through her experience as founder of FEED Projects, LLC and the Feed Foundation. This event, hosted by the Leadership Initiative at Lehigh was student run program that brought together students across campus from all majors to learn about leadership. However, the Brown and White did not cover any part of that story. Instead they took out of context, a mention Ellen causally made about Haiti and turned it into a front page picture.
Continuing with the sources of program subsidies, both the Hawks for Haiti program and the DanceFest 2010 have used the Haitian discourse to conjure interest for their events. According to Tyrone, organizer of DanceFest, only 70 percent of the proceeds go to Haiti related donations. The rest of the money goes to the host. Similarly, Hawks for Haiti is organizing a carnival for Haiti. However, there is no mention of how much money or support they actually plan to give to Haiti related organizations.
Together crisis politicians at Lehigh have agreed to donate all of the money raised to the Red Cross, the corrupt organization mentioned above. In a conversation with the Community Service Office, I was told that the director researched the best place to put the money. It is clear this research did not take in to account any in-depth analysis of charity effectiveness.
In the treachery of charity for Haiti, what can you do to help? How can you avoid scams?
There are two ways to do the right thing:
(1) avoid scams
(2) be informed.
The Christian Science Monitor recently published five tips to avoid scams.5
The top three things that have to say are:
(1) be cautious with online donations.
(2) check out the charities.
(3) donate to organizations not individuals.
If you ask for all of the facts and call the charity you can learn a great deal about where your money goes.
Furthermore, it is important to be informed. You should read technical information sources that are non-biased. For example the U.S. Geological Survey measured 16 earthquakes above 6.0 on the Richter Scale in the last 3 months. Some of these earthquakes were more than ten times as powerful as the Haitian earthquake.6 It is also important to consider the opportunity cost of your donations. If you donate to Haiti, you are not donating to help HIV/AIDS in Africa or the earthquake in Chile or poverty in Bethlehem. Therefore, when looking at donations through a systems lens, it is important to think about where you can give for the most impact and the most need.
1 – http://www.nationalpost.com/m/story.html?id=2434299
2 – http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=9547609&page=1
3 – http://www.sfbayview.com/2010/red-cross-under-fire-where%E2%80%99s-the-money-for-haiti/
4 – http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/HaitiEarthquake/story?id=9561420&page=2
5 – http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0115/Five-tips-to-avoid-Haiti-relief-scams
6 – http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/
Editor’s note: Sarah is an undergraduate student at Lehigh University. She made the choice to depledge from her Sorority. This is her story.
“Thursdays are fucking mandatory.” It was only a text message, but I could hear the shrill words of my pledge master ringing in my ears. What bullshit, I thought, as I often do after reading almost any text message that is sorority-related. I wasn’t going anywhere; I erased the message without responding.
I lay in bed, waiting for the rest of the text messages to arrive. The classic, “Where the fuck r u?!” or the standard, “ I don’t know why you think pledging is optional.” I think pledging is optional because I am sick. Very sick. Although I don’t even bother telling people that again, because they don’t believe me, let alone ask how I’m feeling. “ We’re all sick. Jill has a stomach virus and she’s still here. Just get here NOW!” Stomach virus? That’s all I need to catch. Of course I’m not going. And Jill shouldn’t either.
I don’t know if it’s because I am older then the rest of my pledge class, or more mature, or experienced, but I do know that jeopardizing your health, or the health of those around you is just stupid. Go home, Jill. And Erica, if you’re all sick, then don’t go out every night and binge drink. It’s just common sense.
I used to not see the difference between freshmen, like those in my pledge class, and real people. Now I do. I am not a freshman. I know this because unlike the rest of my pledge class, I already know myself. I know how to drink…and when to stop. I know that I cannot go out partying until all hours of the night, every night, and still expect to keep up the grades I know I’m capable of. (Dana, if you’re failing two of your classes, then maybe you should consider sitting tonight out.) I know how to handle stress without bashing in the faces of those in my general vicinity, which brings me to another distinction: social grace. Mine is a finely tuned instrument, which I play fluently, and beautifully. Their social grace, if capable of sound, would bring most back to the days of elementary school band concerts, where children pitifully struggled to play the three notes of Hot Cross Buns.
“Look hot tonight,” is the next text I receive. If hot means dressing like the rest of the girls, then count me out. If hot means wearing a shirt as a dress and forgetting underwear, then forget me dressing hot tonight. If hot means getting up on tables and waving my arms in the air, oblivious to the fact that I went commando, then no, I will not look hot tonight; I’ll wear jeans.
I often wonder why I even bother with pledging. It is certainly not the sisterhood that I need. My mother blessed me with two sisters, whose unconditional love for me is ever supportive. Where they lack, my real friends fill in. Friends, who when I’m sick, don’t order me out of bed, but bring me soup and take my temperature without my asking. Friends, who hold me up in the shower when my fever hovers around 104 degrees and I’m unable to stand. Friends, who don’t turn their heads, pretending not to see me around campus, but scream my name and wave their arms around like lunatics to get my attention. Friends. Sisters. That’s not why I’m joining a sorority.
Some girls dream of living in a sorority house, complete with chef, communal showers, and forced triple rooms. I do not. In fact, I have no intention of living in a house with forty other women. I. Would. Die. Between the drama, the cat fights, the trash talking, the fat talking, the raging eating disorders. I cannot live in the house. In fact, I already have specific plans to not live in the house. I signed the lease for my off-campus townhouse months ago. Complete with queen size bed, walk-in closet, and private bathrooms.
Finding it was a miracle. I’ll live with the girl who I did not pay to be my social support system. The girl who asks what I have been doing – interested, as opposed to telling me what I should have been doing, apathetic to any reality beyond sorority events. So, why pledge? I don’t like to go out every night like the rest of the girls in the “sisterhood”. I don’t want to. I’ll admit it. There are times when a few glasses of wine, and the boy of the moment are all I need to fulfill my desires of the night. But every so often, I’ll get that urge. That urge to wear a little extra makeup. That urge to throw on my shortest dress, and my highest heels. That urge to drink to get drunk. To dance on bars, and kick people’s drinks over without a care in the world. Ever so rarely, I’ll get that urge to go out. And when I do, I don’t want to roam the Hill, listening for the loudest music, or looking out for the slightest signs of a party. I want to have somewhere to go every night of the week and someone designated to drive me there. Plus, it really alleviates any competition when girls are expected to back off when I have some frat boy wrapped around my fingers, drooling. And having an entire house of girls pledge not to give any of my past love interests the time of day, just to screw them over, is pretty reassuring after a breakup.
So, why didn’t I pledge? Because Thursdays are not fucking mandatory, and I am more than capable of confidently going to a party without the protection of a social security blanket
On January 21st, three days after President Gast publically announced her desire to hire a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at Lehigh, (an event already embedded deep within an email sent to the campus at large concerning the Martin Luther King Day celebration), the student body received word of a hateful incident that happened sometime “in the past week.” For students interested in the details of the event, President Gast’s correspondence was a disappointment. The hateful incident involved an undefined “hostile and racist symbol” in an unidentified elevator.
Five days later, the Brown and White was able to piece together a bit more about what happened. The symbol was a “swastika approximately the size of a fist” found by an unidentified Lehigh employee. Since the announcement, Lehigh removed the swastika, but would still not identify the building where it was found. The reasoning behind the secrecy was, “so as not to bring unwanted attention to people who frequent that [vandalized] building.”
Meanwhile, the real story in all of this is has largely been missed. How the administration, most notably President Gast, launched a major reaction to a relatively minor event paints a clear image of President Gast’s current views on Lehigh and her agenda for the future. As I will demonstrate below it is apparent that President Gast leveraged the incident to support for her push to hire a CDO.
Why so much attention?
The evidence for this motive is widespread. First, looking at the incident itself, there were many responses that were clearly more pragmatic. Most notably, a more functional response would be to say nothing publically. It is well documented that people who engage in behavior like this are doing so for attention of some kind. By obliging, President Gast only made it more likely that subsequent events could occur (Indeed, recent e-mails from within the I&SE department confirm that someone is still drawing swastikas). Additionally, she devalued what an e-mail from President Gast means. National tragedies used to warrant a letter from Alice. Now students may receive e-mails that start:
“Recently, an offensive phrase was found in the third stall from the left in Taylor Gym’s second floor men’s locker room. As a community, we need to reinforce that…”
If the incident itself was the sole motivation, then President Gast would have both satisfied the perpetrator, and devalue her future communications with the student body. Such a response is too shortsighted, especially for someone in President Gast’s position. It is quite unlikely that she would so easily play into the perpetrator’s plan and change the standard for Presidential communication at Lehigh without additional factors being in play.
Why so much mystery?
Second, President Gast’s e-mail had clear evidence that it was written to elicit attention, generate discussion and news coverage from the Brown and White. As discussed earlier, the administration was very careful to shroud the entire incident with mystery. The typical questions of “Who, what, where, when, and why?” were all left unanswered. Ambiguous information or lack thereof is designed to create chatter, rumors and publicity. Marketers do it all the time with that new product or movie that no one knows about. Tiger Woods did the same thing inadvertently last fall, leading to an incredibleamount of discussion because he withheld information.
But President Gast’s response was not like those of Tiger Woods. Assuming she had the facts at the time, there was no reason for withholding them. What would have been the harm of telling us that the ‘hostile and racist symbol’ was a swastika, and it was found on Tuesday? Indeed, providing specifics would make it easier to identify the perpetrator.
Additionally, the response of the administration when asked where the incident occurred, “so as to not bring unwanted attention to people who frequent that building,” shows the continued use of the secrecy principle, even after the initial announcement. With hundreds if not thousands of people entering each of our academic buildings on a given day, that response is nonsensical at best. The administration’s entire response was designed to be mysterious and generate publicity.
While the response does not stand alone as a logical reaction to the alleged bias incident, add President Gast’s desire to hire a CDO into the mix and the storyline makes sense. Publicizing the incident would now provide evidence of racism and sexism at Lehigh, and the more coverage the incident received the more powerful her argument would be. Indeed, publicity of hate or racism at Lehigh benefits her agenda by demonstrating for her that Lehigh needs more diversity initiatives, more sensitivity training and more administrators. In this case, she took advantage of the actions of a single person, and implied that Lehigh has serious problems that need to be fixed.
The assumption underlying all of President Gast’s actions is that Lehigh is an unfair, unjust, racist, sexist institution. Her actions thus far in creating the CEC as a means to steamroll her agenda across the campus, adding a question to the application for admission on equity and community to profile students and now looking to hire a CDO demonstrate her adherence to this philosophy. That is the Lehigh she sees. Her response to this incident displays that she is willing to subject others to this view in order to accomplish her goals.
The Two Lehighs
Is Lehigh that place? Is Lehigh really awash with racism and sexism? In an article I wrote a year ago, in light of the isolated racial incidents last January, I analyzed what it would mean for Lehigh if we experienced 12 independent hateful incidents in a year – much more than what we hear about. The result would be that well over 99 percent of Lehigh students, while far from perfect, do not engage in hateful activity. Certainly, there are other students at Lehigh who are not entirely welcoming of differences and diversity and some more students who are prejudiced in one way or another. But is it a widespread problem that requires an expensive fix, or is it more a reflection of statistical certainties – that within a given population you will have some people with undesirable qualities? I think the evidence for the latter case is compelling.
President Gast clearly disagrees with this assessment. That is well within her right, as is her pursuit of a CDO. However, her methods of pursuit, especially in this instance, have troubling consequences. By overreacting to incidents like this, she perpetuates a view of Lehigh as an institution with widespread biases. While that benefits her agenda, it damages Lehigh by generating more expenses, restrictions, and requirements for everyone in response to the actions of a few. The large investment required for her diversity initiatives should not be based on isolated incidents perpetrated by a mere handful of Lehigh’s 6,000-plus community members. Unfortunately, if her response to this incident is any indication, that is exactly what she plans to do.
The Brown and White eagerly described ten days worth of events honoring Martin Luther King Jr, but excluded many details that those that those in attendance would be quick to point out. While events such as convocation and the oratorical contest were summarized, the Brown and White failed to report on the underlying issues and concerns associated with these events. The large majority of students who did not attend any of these functions now may have a broad description of what occurred, but still cannot understand the meanings and implications of these events as well as someone who had attended.
In relation to MLK events, the paper has clearly given up any effort to analyze events or discuss possible controversies. The Brown and White covered the MLK oratorical contest but failed to mention the lack of Lehigh students, excluding contestants, at the event. Their article merely reiterated contestants’ views for Lehigh, failing to report low attendance. Yes, a few professors, as well as, Dean Washington attended, but the contestant winner himself called for the student body as the basis for change at Lehigh. The Brown and White missed the critical issue. With such low attendance; how the change contestants hoped for possibly become reality?
Our school’s newspaper is still missing one very important piece in the administration and student body’s push for equality and social justice on campus. Mario Paredes, winner of the oratorical contest, calls for Lehigh to be “a place of community and inclusiveness.” During the student rally, Darius Callier, Vice President of the Black Student Union, voiced his belief that in regard to violence based on sexual orientation, marginalized ethnicities, or persecution, “Lehigh is not immune to, or apart from any these challenges.” The Brown and White missed an opportunity to report real issues, this time by ignoring the effort by Lehigh’s administration, specifically the Council for Equity and Community, to remedy the problems and cultural issues articulated throughout campus by various speakers during MLK week.
President Gast and the administration are actively pursuing the CEC’s request for a chief diversity officer at the level of vice president (VPEC). The administration hopes that this position will better administer efforts to promote social equality and diversity on campus while simultaneously boosting prestige and admission numbers. Why has the Brown and White chosen to not report on this vital affair? Is it for fear of the controversy and opposition that may arise? Possibly, but why not educate students on the advancements happening on their campus instead of worrying about remaining in lockstep with the administration. Lehigh students are suffering because of the Brown and White’s refusal to cover controversial issues on campus.
Many students have no idea of the university’s plan, and probably have many questions about the CDO position. Why does the CDO need to be at a Vice President’s level? The answer to this question can be found in the VPEC’s Benchmarking Report assembled by Lehigh’s CEC: “Over the course of the information gathering, it became obvious that perception of one’s title makes a big difference. If the VPEC/CDO’s charge is merely a segment of the institution, a diversity initiative will not be as effective. But when the VPEC/CDO’s charge encompasses the entire institution, everyone will be engaged.” Or how much would the CDO get paid? According to Lehigh’s research, “among American colleges and universities, the average annual salary of CDOs/VPECs is $250-$300,000.” Will there be a tuition increase to account for this new position’s salary? If not, what parts of the internal budget will be allocated for the CDO?A cycle has emerged where Lehigh students fail to attend key events and are truly unaware of the pulse on campus. Meanwhile, the Brown and White fails to help these students become informed by avoiding any and all controversy and simply not present divisive topics. Critical changes are happening on campus, such as the pending appointment of a CDO and having a majority of students unaware of that is a problem on many levels.
Even though we printed our environmentally-friendly copies of the Patriot already, you may not have received one. If that’s the case, The Lehigh Patriot now offers a convenient and environmentally conscious solution: print your own right on Lehigh’s free printers!
Sure you can just view it on your computer, but who reads stuff like that?
Printing a Patriot is quite easy: visit www.LehighPatriot.com/pdfs/DecemberFinal.pdf and hit print! Make sure you only print one-sided though, duplex messes up the page order.
This message is sponsored by The Lehigh Patriot, and the Lehigh Environmental Advisory Group (LEAG)*.
*: Not really, that part of the message is parody.
The climate is changing. It always has been, and it always will be. The question that drives discussion on environmental policy of late is, “What role does human activity plays in climate change?” Based on the huge changes that some politicians support in the name of combating climate change, it is important to take a critical look at this question. While I know that you may have heard that the scientific community has reached a consensus on this question, let us take a look – you may be surprised.
Carbon and the Climate
The theory behind anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change is that CO2 emissions are causing a rampant increase in global temperature. Thus far, proponents of this theory have largely succeeded in making the public believe that this is an undisputed fact among the scientific community. The truth is, many notable climatologists and other scientists dispute this scientific hypothesis. To name a few:
1. The Polish Academy of Sciences , who submitted a letter discussing ten problems with the theory of anthropogenic climate change.
2. Princeton Physicist Dr. William Happer , who testified before Senate in February that current climate models are inherently flawed.
3. Ivar Giaever, Norwegian Nobel Prize winner .
4. Dr. John Cristy, a lead author of the U.N.’s original IPCC report in 2001 .
5. Over 700 scientists according to a list provided by the U.S. Government .
Clearly, it would be inaccurate to claim that there is a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. All of these scientists provide theories of their own regarding human activity and the causes and effects of an increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is understandable to see so many differing views; since even the climate models that predict runaway warming cannot agree on its role.
The climate models that do predict global warming provide an estimated increase in temperature of anywhere from two degrees Celsius to nine degrees Celsius by year 2100. These models require hundreds of assumptions – one of them being carbon’s role in regulating the climate. As Dr. Happer explains in his senate testimony though, about 90% of the “greenhouse effect” on earth is due to water vapor, not CO2. The role of CO2 is much smaller. According to Dr. Happer, it could cause at most a 1 degree Celsius increase in global temperature. He explains:
“There is little argument in the scientific community that a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the earth’s temperature — on the order of one degree. Additional increments of CO2 will cause relatively less direct warming because we already have so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it has blocked most of the infrared radiation that it can.”
Dr. Happer continues to explain that models currently used rely on the assumption that small increases in CO2 levels will lead to increased levels of water vapor in the atmosphere, causing runaway warming. However, empirical evidence has shown this correlation to close to zero of even negative.
Whether or not you agree with Dr. Happer, he and other renowned scientists contend that anthropogenic climate change does not pose a serious threat. Indeed, even climate models disagree. Climate models which assume a positive correlation between CO2 and water vapor predict a temperature increases of anywhere from two degrees Celsius to nine degrees Celsius. What role does human activity plays in climate change?” Based on the evidence, it is pretty clear that we do not know. With that being said, let’s look at the cost of the proposed legislation on climate change, which is currently stalled in the Senate.
The Waxman-Markey Bill
The Waxman-Markey bill, touted as “transformational legislation,” would require the U.S. to reduce emissions of CO2 and other gases by 17 percent within the next 10 years and by 80 percent before 2050. Should the bill pass through the Senate, the government will use a “cap and trade” system to regulate the emission of CO2. Essentially, the government will issue permits to emit CO2, which can then be traded from companies that pollute less to companies that pollute more. The end result should be a level of emissions equal to the “cap” that is set. The main issues in this bill are the effects on the monetary system, and the effects on the climate. So before a judgment is made about this bill, let’s look at who pays, who profits, and what happens to the climate as a result.
As with most government policies, U.S. citizens will foot the bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill will cost the average household $175 per year, mainly from an increase in the price of carbon based fuels. Due to a series of provisions within the bill, the poorest 20 percent of Americans will actually benefit, making $40 per year due to this bill . In addition to the direct cost to taxpayers, the “cap and trade” system will increase manufacturing costs, and provide incentive for companies to move manufacturing plants overseas to areas with lower energy costs, which would likely result in increased unemployment.
Where does this money go? That should be obvious – to the bureaucracy! According to the same CBO report, the bill would increase federal revenue by $845 billion over the coming decade, with estimated expenditures related to the bill weighing in at $821 billion . There are several interpretations of what this means. One interpretation is the creative New York Times headline that the climate bill “would trim budget deficit.” Such an interpretation is accurate if the budgeting assumptions are valid, but also terribly misleading. This bill calls for an increase in spending of $82.1 billion per year. To put that into perspective, the AIG bailout of last August was $85 billion. This bill is essentially another one of those every year so that our government can regulate the emission of invisible gases.
Now despite the large costs involved, proponents of the bill claim that the cost is worth the benefit of reducing carbon emissions. The climate models cited by the proponents of the bill predict a rise of anywhere from two to nine degrees Celsius over the next century. Similar models predict the impact of the House’s climate bill to be a drop of 0.05 degrees Celsius by 2050. Simply put, even if these climate models are indeed accurate, then this bill will do virtually nothing to change the warming trend. However, by 2050, this bill will have cost us $3,000,000,000,000 ($3 trillion) to change the global temperature increase from 3 degrees Celsius to 2.95 degrees.
Climate in the Real World
While the United States may look to self-flagellate itself through the Waxman-Markey bill, other countries will not do the same. With one third of the world’s population residing in China and India, both countries are going through rapid economic growth. Economic growth is inextricably tied to cheap energy consumption, and hence CO2 emissions. China’s emissions of CO2 have increased at a rate of 11% over the past five years, and are expected to continue at a similar rate . These emissions will counteract any cooling effects the Waxman-Markey bill may have.
Even if we take the apocalyptic approach, the Waxman-Markey bill still does not make sense. Geoengineers have already devised several methods of cooling earth, some of which involve ejecting particles like sulfates into earth’s atmosphere to reflect sunlight . This solution lacks appeal to environmentalists, but the result is that humans would see little effect from any warming that does occur. These methods are hundreds of times cheaper than the forced reinvention of the American economy.
In the past, the earth has been warmer, and it has also been cooler. There have been Ice Ages as well as warm periods, when Greenland was actually green. While it is easy to think that we live in extraordinary times, we do not. Our economy and our energy will become more sustainable over time, but we do not need to force the fact before it becomes economically viable.
Money and How to Waste It
For the sake of clarity, here’s what the Waxman-Markey bill does in real terms:
1. Takes a lot of money from 80% of Americans
2. Gives some of that money to the poorest 20% of Americans.
3. Uses the rest to create a huge government agency that monitors and attempts to regulate the emission of an invisible gas.
4. Creates cost incentives that will drive industry elsewhere, as unemployment continues to rise.
5. All of this is done in hopes that we can cool the planet by a 1/20th of a degree over 40 years.
Clean and domestic energy are worthwhile goals, no one can dispute that. But, in typical government fashion, this bill goes about “achieving” those two goals in the most convoluted and inefficient way possible. This huge sum of money – about $12,000 per person – over 40 years should not be taken in the first place. The $3 Trillion could be used to directly fund clean energy research and technology. It could be used to build more nuclear power plants to provide cheap and clean electricity. It could be used to reduce the huge deficit built by President Obama and his predecessor. Instead, this bill is directly transferring wealth from citizen to citizen, and being used to fund yet another massive federal bureaucracy. To cap it all off, it will do essentially nothing to change the climate. It is but another example of political negligence.
 Kevin Mooney, Washington Examiner, 4/24/2009. (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/Examiner-Opinion-Zone/Polish-Academy-of-Sciences-Questions-Gores-Man-Made-Global-Warming-Theory-43618922.html)
 Dr. William Happer, U.S. Senate Testimony, 2/25/2009. (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/happer_senate_testimony.html)
 Christina Reed, Nature, 7/15/2008. (http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2008/07/nobelists_talk_energy.html)
 Jon Birger, Fortune Magazine, 5/14/2009. (http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/14/magazines/fortune/globalwarming.fortune/index.htm)
 Marc Morano, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 12/11/2008. (http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2674E64F-802A-23AD-490B-BD9FAF4DCDB7)
 Dr. William Happer, U.S. Senate Testimony, 2/25/2009. (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/happer_senate_testimony.html)
 Dr. Roy Spencer, Earth System Science Center, 2/28/2008. (http://www.drroyspencer.com/Spencer-and-Braswell-08.pdf)
 Steven Mufson, Washington Post, 6/23/2009. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/22/AR2009062202836.html)
 Darren Samuelsohn, New York Times, 6/8/2009. (http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/06/08/08climatewire-house-climate-bill-would-trim-budget-deficit-83573.html)
 Chip Knappenberger, MasterResource.org, 5/6/2009. (http://masterresource.org/?p=2355)
 Univ. Of California – Berkeley, 3/10/2008. (http://www.physorg.com/news124384270.html)
 Jamais Cascio, The Wall Street Journal, 6/15/2009. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204771304574181522575503150.html
Even with the Copenhagen climate change summit fast approaching, the average American could care less about the environment or related legislation. If Americans did care, the United States would already have extensive legislation to promote sustainability. The reason for this apathy is the same reason that most Americans don’t vote – they have no interest or benefit from acting. They have not witnessed the detrimental effects of a deteriorating environment. Topping the carelessness, the scientific community is fighting discord on the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
That is not to say that global warming does not exist or that the environment has not been harmed by unsustainable habits. In a discussion held on October 21st, professors at Lehigh discussed the very real effects of pollution and unsustainable habits. Professor Fennel talked of China’s environmental agency finding 45% of its waterways unsuitable for human contact, some of which are used as drinking water. Numerous professors discussed the recent rise of precipitation events in the U.S., the use of groundwater mining to satisfy growing demand. This process pumps more than ten times more water out of the ground than is naturally being replaced.
Apathy toward the environment is fueled by various controversies surrounding climate change, including recent data contradictory to the “hockey stick” theory. There is no consensus. Northern Hemisphere climate variability is still actively being researched. This data has enormous implications for further legislation, because data on climate variability will help determine the earth’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide emissions.2
These findings are not tangible to the average American, creating a disconnect between fact and public concern. Most Americans are blind to global patterns and environmental issues. Unless the stream in their backyard turns to sewage, Americans cannot be bothered with sustainability legislation.
In this way, the average American and Lehigh student share a lethargy for all topics relating to environmental sustainability. Small minorities of Sierra Club or Green Action members may recognize unsustainable habits, but they have little power to bring sweeping legislation to their respective institutions.
Change must come from a higher entity – like a global climate treaty. International efforts towards sustainability seem to indicate that only a very gradual approach is politically realistic. In the future, this incremental process may be the same tactic the university will utilize in curbing student and faculty environmental footprints.
It remains to be seen whether this legislation will triumph over apathy – coaxing more environmentally friendly habits – or will stir direct opposition caused by adherence and comfort in the status quo.
For now, it seems the American public and businesses need not worry about this legislation inconveniencing their lives or forcing change. Hopes have turned grim for a new energy bill. Politicians fear capping carbon emissions will cause economic hardship to an already hurting electorate. Internationally, Europe, the U.S., China, and developing countries harbor contrasting goals and levels of commitment. Many are wary that action will be possible from the climate conference in Copenhagen, though it does present a global stage and opportunity for change.3
2) November 6th Jason Smerdon, Storke-Doherty Lecturer, Columbia University “Spaghetti Plots, Hockey Sticks, Pseudo-Realities and Congressional Oversight: A decade of attempts to reconstruct the climate of the last millennium and where we stand now”
I am no logistics major, or heck even a good driver, but there is something wrong with the transportation system here at Lehigh. While on the topic of transportation, the ever-present parking issue ought to be brought up as well.
Before discussing its flaws, however, some of the better qualities of the transportation system should be pointed out. First off, it exists. Except in cases of extreme snow, ice or injury, it is very possible to walk anywhere on the Asa Packer campus. The fact that the University realizes the value of students’ time and shuttles us around is definitely something to commend. Secondly, it is free. If you plan on living in an urban area after college you will most likely have to pay for others to drive you around. According to Transportation and Parking Services’ web site (They have a very informative website!), some of the cost of bussing is “funded by parking fees.” But despite some positive elements, this system leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, there is something being done about it.
Every year, Student Senate forms committees dedicated to solving problems on campus. A committee focusing on the bus system has been reestablished almost every year as the Senate continually sees a need to improve transportation on campus. So far, this year’s 8-member committee has compiled a long list of transportation related issues they would like to address this year. Much harder than rattling off grievances, however, is discerning which projects can actually be done. Thus, a substantial portion of the committee’s activity involves bringing issues to the attention of administrators and collaborating to devise ways to improve the services provided.
One of the committee’s biggest projects is improving T.R.A.C.S., as they believe something needs to be done to make it safer and more efficient. According to Lehigh’s transportation website,
“The Escort Bus Service, sometimes referred to as the T.R.A.C.S. (Take a Ride Around Campus Safely) Bus Service, provides transportation between University buildings and student residences…During the academic year, two vans operate from 10:00 P.M. to 2:00 A.M., Sunday through Wednesday, and 10:00 P.M. – 3:00 A.M., Thursday through Saturday, and follow a scheduled route in and around the Asa Packer campus.”
While this looks good on paper, many students cite spending eternities waiting outside the library for a T.R.A.C.S. van to meander over. Additionally, with the temperature dropping and finals on the horizon, this is bound to become an increasingly common frustration. Several seniors have reported remembering their freshmen days when T.R.A.C.S. was willing to stray from its route to bring you exactly where you wanted to go, and then simply hop back onto its scheduled route. Easy enough, right? The Escort Bus Service’s schedule has since become stricter, preventing drivers from taking 2 minutes to bring students within a safe distance of their off-campus houses. Even worse, rumors are circulating that administration discourages drivers from picking up visibly intoxicated students.
The Student Senate committee is also trying to improve the daytime bus system to make it more user-friendly. One suggestion that would be very easy to implement would be to have busses leave on the “5”s instead of on the “10”s. The reasoning behind this is that the students that get out of class early can get, say, the 12:05 bus, while the kids getting out a little later or with farther to walk could catch the 12:15 bus. This would alleviate the mass of people at the bus stop come 12:10, which can pose a problem because many students living on the hill have only an hour for lunch.
A project that the committee has carried over from last year is its effort to try and get more covered bus stops put on campus. Some of their other projects include identifying ice problem areas, promoting the ride board on portal, and improving parking.
Limited parking is a difficult thing to fix, due to the finite amount of space on campus. However, there are many ways it could be improved. For starters, most of the meters on campus, in addition to only taking quarters, only go up to one hour. So a student with a three hour class or lab is fated to get a ticket. An impending $50.00 fine is probably not what you want on your mind while trying to pay attention in class, take a test, or experiment with chemicals. Another flaw is that if your car is not registered with the university, but gets ticketed, there is nothing Parking Services can do to enforce collection. Tickets are distributed with the intention of making sure the spots are free for people who paid for the permit to rightfully park there. As the parking web site puts it, “[by] enforcing parking on Lehigh’s campus, we ensure that there are adequate spaces available for faculty, staff, students, and visitors who have registered their vehicles and/or paid for their parking. When people park on campus illegally, it means someone with a valid permit loses out on a space.” But this person who loses out on their rightful space is forced to park somewhere else, and thus get ticketed as well, but also have to pay it. It is also hard to ignore that there is a problem when the University Announcement e-mails unfailingly includes titles such as “NO PARKING – in front of Building X, 12/12/09.”
Unfortunately, despite the aforementioned issues affecting students on a daily basis, they have little to no ability to personally enact change. The administration must be contacted; they are the only agent capable of implementing any changes. And while the administration appreciates hearing the Senate committee’s constructive ideas and plans, the fact remains that it is a challenge to get money allocated towards making improvements. Yes, an obvious way to better the T.R.A.C.S. system would be to add another van or five, but the cost of gas for four or five hours of non-stop driving, and wages for a willing driver add up. Thus, a current focus for the committee is coming up with cost-effective solutions.
Despite the fact that many students are frustrated with the current transportation system here at Lehigh, Transportation and Parking Services has done nothing wrong. They have done their part to inform students of what services they can and cannot offer. The administration is not ignoring the transportation system’s shortcomings either; there just are not ample funds allotted towards getting any given student from A to B at 2:19 A.M. on a Saturday. So if blame must be allocated, go with the scapegoat du jour and blame it on the recession, and know that people are working to improve upon the situation.
On Friday, hackers infiltrated the Climate Research Unit (CRU) and posted hundreds of documents and emails regarding CRU’s research, climate models, and publications.
While main stream news sources have tried to downplay this, there is no hiding the incriminating evidence contained within. Currently, all signs point to the emails being authentic. While the hacking of CRU’s server is a crime, what it exposed is even worse.
Despite the American mainstream media’s ambivalence on the subject, this is big news. Many media outlets in other countries still understand that. For analysis on that, see the Telegraph’s commentary on the news story.
For analysis on the various documents contained, much is still being uncovered from the massive amounts of information held within the files. However, the Herald Sun in Australia has some very good analysis on what this means for IPCC lead author Dr. Phil Jones.
Many blogs are leaping on this story, detailing a lot of the troublesome quotes from the emails. One blog details a lot of the quotes that show severely unethical practices.
While I won’t detail the extent of the comments, I will leave you with one quote from an email sent by Dr. Trenberth, Head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
What does this mean for the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis? That is for you to decide. Take a look at the evidence and make up your mind.
If you are so inclined, the .zip file containing the documents and emails can be found here.