Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Australian National University Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt, in a speech he gave at Davos, universities will be the most critical of institutions in the coming transition to a new world order, to help design policies which “governments can turn to”.
Unis are key to meeting our climate change challenge 5 FEBRUARY 2020
In 2015, through the Paris Agreement, the world came together to chart a way forward to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees. But we are nowhere near being on target to limit warming to 2 degrees, either as a world, or as a nation.
Since the Paris Agreement, CO2 has increased by an amount in our atmosphere higher than in any other four-year period in human history.
We – the global citizenry – are seeing a comprehensive failure of the global political system; a failure that has existential consequences for our collective prosperity. The university sector, in my opinion, will be amongst the most critical of all institutions, if we are to find the pathways to a prosperous and sustainable global future.
We will educate those – young and old – who will be productive in a rapidly changing world.
We will undertake much of the research that underpins the technological development required to cope with our demands on the planet.
We will be the place where much of the thinking emerges on how to marry technology with human behaviour.
And we will be the places most open to contemplating whatever changes to the world-order are going to be required to keep the peace as change occurs.
It has been the role of universities for almost a millennium to challenge orthodoxy and think big. Facing up to the challenges isn’t something we, the university sector, can’t wait for permission to do – our job is to get out in front of issues, and find answers before the calls for help.
But it is not just technology that matters – all of this has to be underpinned by a highly rational set of policies at the local, national, and international level, as well as things like financial instruments, and public education.
We need to help design the policies that governments can turn to. We stand ready to lend our deep expertise to governments as they act to tackle this enormously complex challenge – ensuring that these do not leave individuals and nations behind. Because if they do, they either will not happen, or will create civil unrest that will undermine their implementation.
…Read more: https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/unis-are-key-to-meeting-our-climate-change-challenge
I think C.S.Lewis provided the perfect response to this sincere offer by Professor Brian Schmidt to accept the burden of making decisions on our behalf, to help usher in a sustainable new world order of “rational” decision making and policies, to replace what Professor Schmidt described as “a comprehensive failure of the global political system”.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals – C.S.Lewis.
Thank you for your offer but no thank you, Professor Schmidt. What you see as an untidy geopolitical failure is what we call freedom.