Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Huffington Post has noticed that many university academics are utter climate hypocrites, that many of them rate their personal importance by how many professional air miles they can accumulate every year.
The Climate Change Hypocrisy Of Jet-Setting Academics
By Nives Dolšak and Aseem Prakash
03/31/2018 09:00 am ET
Recently, we witnessed a fascinating conversation among a few of our professorial colleagues about their frequent flyer status on a prominent airline. Two of them had achieved “Diamond” status ― the very top of the priority boarding pecking order. They spoke the most and were the loudest. The others, with either Platinum or Gold frequent flyer medallions, also noted how “busy” they were with “all this travel.”
The group casually mentioned the various benefits ― such as seating upgrades and access to airport lounges ― that come with their statuses, but the bragging was not really about those perks. It was about importance and recognition. After all, only the most successful academics fly around the world, attending conferences, participating in workshops and giving lectures. Congratulations all around!
But while these universities are working to help their communities take on climate change, academics are accumulating big carbon footprints with their jet-setting professional styles. As The New York Times noted, “Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel.”
This is a notable disconnect between what universities preach and what their culture incentivizes and their star professors do. Academics are probably among the people most aware of the threats posed by climate change. But might their own carbon-profligate lifestyles undermine their moral authority to demand that coal miners, Teamsters working on oil pipelines and mining-dependent Native American tribes sacrifice their own economic well-being to fight climate change?
The author notes that in 2014, University of Washington academics submitted claims for 136 million miles of professional travel – enough for a return trip to Mars.
This issue goes beyond feeling outraged at the blatant climate hypocrisy.
Why should any of us take academic warnings about anthropogenic CO2 seriously, when behind closed doors those same academics demonstrate their true level of concern by competing with each other to create the largest possible professional carbon footprint?