Ethics Dunce: Harvard President Larry Bacow

Allow me to stipulate that it’s unethical for a President of Harvard University to make his students stupid. Can we agree on that? In truth, it would be unethical for the President of what is supposed to be America’s most distinguished, selective and eminent institution of higher learning to make anyone stupid, but surely the leader of such an institution has a special obligation to his own students, correct?

Apparently Mr Bacow doesn’t comprehend this. Harvard President Larry Bacow issued a message to all “Members of the Harvard Community” this month. Usually such broadcasts from Olympus involve a particularly earth-shaking event on campus, but this one was standard issue climate change propaganda and fear-mongering:

Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity. . . . We are going to need a little optimism to preserve life on Earth as we know and cherish it today. The last several months have laid at our feet undeniable evidence of the world to come—massive fires that consume entire towns, unprecedented flooding that inundates major urban areas, record heat waves and drought that devastate food supplies and increase water scarcity. Few, if any, parts of the globe are being spared as livelihoods are dashed, lives are lost, and regions are rendered unlivable.

Undeniable evidence? There may be evidence, and inquiring minds might differ as to how “undeniable” its is, but what is undeniable is that Bacow cited no undeniable evidence whatsoever. None. A relatively competent junior high school science teacher—rest in peace, Mr. Porter—would tell you, and certainly his students, that individual weather events are infamously variable and prove exactly nothing about the climate. 2021 has not seen unprecedented weather-related disasters, as that newspaper clipping from 90 years ago amply shows. This website, which catalogues climate change activism dishonesty, makes the point that what is being called by Bacow and others “extreme” weather and climate-related events are not. For example,

  • Heat waves have been decreasing since the 1930s, not only in the U.S. but globally.
  • The decade just completed was the second quietest for landfalling hurricanes and major hurricanes in the U.S since the 1850s.
  • The number of strong tornadoes has declined over the last 50 years.
  • There has been no statistically significant increase in droughts and floods.
  • Wildfires have been decreasing since the 1800s, and the increase in damage from them in recent years are primarily due to population growth in vulnerable areas and botched forest management.

So Bacow is not encouraging the young, supposedly promising minds placed in his charge in exchange for exorbitant tuition fees (now those HAVE been increasing at a frightening rate) to exercise careful research, objective reasoning, critical thinking and skepticism regarding conventional wisdom while avoiding confirmation bias and logical fallacies. He is using his position and authority to indoctrinate students for his own political agenda, while weakening those very skills that a university should be seeking to strengthen.

I guess I should have been clearer when I noted here and on Facebook that I would be writing a long entry in my Harvard class reunion book detailing why I would not attend the festivities next year as a result of Harvard repeatedly debasing my degree and disgracing itself over the past decade. I’m sorry Larry, I didn’t mean to suggest that I was looking for more outrages to cite! Since my declaration of intent, Harvard has issued a ridiculous edict designed to make social discourse, not to mention eating and drinking itself, unpleasant and difficult on campus, it pressured students to remove a flag featuring the American flag and rapper Nicki Minaj because “some students” might be offended by one or the other, and now this.

Harvard hasn’t just been corrupted by the Great Stupid, though that is depressing enough. Harvard is making it worse.


Pointer and Facts: Manhattan Contrarian

28 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Harvard President Larry Bacow

  1. Harvard isn’t alone in using its navel-gazing position as a Great Authority to advance this nonsense. Listen to NPR these days, and you’ll regularly hear this summer’s wildfires and hurricanes cited as proof of anthropogenic climate change. Not only in their talk shows – they’re making this claim in actual news programming such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. They’re citing it as proof.

    • A couple days ago I randomly tuned across a NPR segment while my usual driving station was in commerical break. They were talking to some FEMA lobbiest who was advocating for more dollars. NPR asked climate questions.

      The lackey wisely deferred the topic explaining that they were not a scientist and not equipped to answer science questions. NPR: about you keep climate questions for NOAA?

  2. Steve Witherspoon linked to a video in a recent response on these pages detailing how the US Forest Service appears to be complicit in the lies about wildfires. USFS has burn acreage data going to back to (at least) the late 1890s, but recently scrubbed ALL pre-1983 data from its site. Since 1983, there has been a small year-over-year trending increase in burn acreage, and this cherry-picked super-small sample size is being used to feed the false narrative – correction…the outright lie – that increased CO2 levels are driving forest fire extent.

    The early 1900s saw burn acreage totals 4x (and more) compared to what we are seeing today. Pre-industrial period (prior to 1850) were nearly 10x…all in a “low CO2” environment.

    But doesn’t that sort of make sense? What is one of the prime ingredients in a fire EXTINGUISHER?!? Carbon dioxide. Fires have a more difficult time living where carbon dioxide is used.

    Harvard should immediately replace all its campus fire extinguishers with new ones that contain pure oxygen…and then hand one to President Bacow when there’s a fire and tell him it’s a “low CO2” unit. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he’s smart enough to get the point, so stand clear if he deploys it.

  3. There’s pretty strong evidence that these fires are caused by neglect due to lawsuits by environmental activist groups wanting a untouched forest. There’s lots of fuel since they have sued BLM (bureau of land management) and others to stop logging, building of roads and clearing of forest litter, and controlled burns. They’re burning hotter and uncontrollable because of neglect, or as the environmental activists call it, “natural environment” not because the temperature is 1 degree warmer overnight. They have spent money on green energy at the cost to power line maintenance, they have not trimmed trees due to lawsuits. The green movement the last 50+ years has caused this.

      • Not entirely. There’ve been numerous studies/reports that confirm that concept – by not cleaning up deadfall or dead trees, we’ve been greatly adding to the fuel load in western forests. Because of all the fuel on the ground, ground fires are more likely to become crown fires, which are the really destructive and nasty ones.

        • Arthur in Maine wrote, “…by not cleaning up deadfall or dead trees, we’ve been greatly adding to the fuel load in western forests.”


          Did you think about that?

          With all due respect that’s simply not logical. We, as in humans not cleaning up deadfall or dead trees, haven’t added a thing, mother nature has done the adding. Undergrowth growing in the forest happens, trees falling over dead in the forest happens, it’s a forest and Mother Nature happens in the forests.

          Could human activity decrease the intensity of some of the fires by removing some of the fuel from the forest, maybe in very limited areas around human population centers but certainly not wide spread throughout the forest. There simply isn’t enough manpower to clean entire forests of Mother Natures fire fueling under growth or deadfall or dead trees.

          • Steve – there is no question that if one goes back three or four centuries, the forests were absolutely uncontrolled and wildfires, when they happened, were potentially as devastating as what we see today.

            Back then, Indigenous people, if afforded the possibility of doing so, packed up and left. Or died right there. Same for wildlife.

            What’s changed, however, is the presence of a LOT more people, and valuation of the timber – both aesthetically and economically. Wildfires are increasing in cost both due the value of the timber – which used to be pretty cheap – and the value of the properties destroyed when fire strikes.

            Before enormous restrictions were placed on the logging industry – and before all the ecomentalists started moving to the mountains – fires of the scope of the recent Caldor fire were extremely rare, in part due to logging. What’s changed? The theory that the forests should be allowed to return to their “natural” state with little thought given to all the people who moved there in the interim.

            The forests could be all natural with little impact from major fires if we simply moved everyone out of the forests. That’s a non-starter, for obvious reasons. We do know how to reduce the impact of these fires. To date, we have chosen not to do so.

          • Back before we were here, we never stopped the wildfires and so they burned more frequently causing less of the massive super heated fires like we have today. They would burn, and be big, for sure but less hot because they burned more often. People used to do controlled Burns to do the same thing, but it’s not really possible anymore because it is dry and we have not kept on top of it so they have the potential to become out of control fires. And yes, like any major problem it has a lot of aspects, but letting it be “natural” while not letting forests frequently burn, as used to happen, it’s not difficult to say “this is one of the causes for massive fires in the west.” Beetle kill is also a cause. It’s not the same as accusing every single weather event on global warming, because there is a lot of things they did on purpose to stop forest management and a lot of unintended consequences they started. It’s partly their fault.

      • Steve, I stand corrected. Not “has caused this” has “a been a major contributor to the superheated fires that are too big to manage by not allowing the underbrush to be cleared out, not allowing roads to be built, not allowing proper trimming of power lines in the forests and by causing PG&E to allocate their limited funds to green energy development so they sacrificed line maintenance.”

        • Demeter wrote, “Steve, I stand corrected. Not ‘has caused this’ has ‘a been a major contributor to the superheated fires that are too big to manage by not allowing the underbrush to be cleared out, not allowing roads to be built, not allowing proper trimming of power lines in the forests and by causing PG&E to allocate their limited funds to green energy development so they sacrificed line maintenance.’ “

          A contributing factor at some level you bet, but a “major contributing factor”, I’m not so sure. Mother nature’s ability to adapt and grow in all sorts of climates is clearly the winner of the major contributing factors for the undergrowth and dead trees fueling massive fires in my book.

          Arsonists, neglect of clearing out growth around transmission lines, the influx of humans moving into the forest, irresponsible humans with camp fires, and even putting roads through the forest (there was one large fire somewhere out west years ago that was actually started by sparks and hot debris flying off a trailer from a camper or a boat I forget which because the brakes over heated), etc. certainly are contributing factors of how often man made fires actually start, but the presence of undergrowth and dead trees is always, and I do mean always, going to be there. Humans need to be more responsible in their efforts to stop starting forest fires and clearing their own property of undergrowth and dead trees thus protecting their property when a forest fires come their way. All that said; many forest fires are started by lightening.

          Side Note: It’s my understanding that buried powerlines don’t start forest fires.

          • This is true, many, many are started by lightning and instead of letting them bum, they are now extinguished as soon as humanly possible, since people live everywhere now. So this is exactly what I’m taking about. Before they burned and burned for months until snow or rain them out, but they burned more often. Now there’s so much fuel… we’ve been putting out fires as soon as possible for decades. It is absolutely our fault but not from climate change. It’s from poor forest management for decades. We haven’t let Mother Nature have her own version of fires, annually and huge so now they’re huge and HOT. That’s the problem they’re too hot. The underbrush burns much, much hotter because of all the fuel. They can no longer be controlled, not how we have before because of this. Because the environmental activists sued every time they tried to do something about it. They wanted it natural and now here we are. With fires so hot they turn the forest floor to a glass like substance. It’s dry for sure in the west so the forest might not ever regenerate. I was at Mesa Verde a few years ago. That forest burned over a decade ago and there’s not really any new shrubs growing, the rainfall simply isn’t there.

  4. An interesting observation about the political left’s climate change tactics over the last 50 years; it seems to me that almost everything they do is intentionally presented to create…

    Just in case you don’t remember what happened nearly 50 years ago, here is a place you can look back at some of the predictions.

    The political left is using that create hysteria tactic across the board in 21st century politics and efforts it shift the mindset of society.

    • I don’t know about going back 50 years, I’m not old enough to remember 50 years ago, yet. However, I can easily go back 33 years, which is no small amount, and I can tell you that my freshman and sophomore year of college, the campus watermelons (green outside, red inside), we’re busy hyping the theory that the world had only about 30 years of oil left, at which point, presumably, the wells would run dry and we’d have to find some alternate source. At the time, published sources said that the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia alone would last 90 years. So who do you believe? Published, peer-reviewed textbooks, or 20yo activists trying to whip up hysteria?

      This idea didn’t catch on, and in fact it got swallowed up in the First Gulf War, when the Saudis simply turned the tap and made a mint. So they moved on to climate change as the new existential threat to the planet. Every storm, every earthquake, every natural disaster, was climate change’s fault, and climate change was fossil fuel’s fault. You! All this is on you! Every time you turn the key in your car, or paint your house, or buy a plastic item, useful or not, you damage this planet even more. You! Bill Weir says you broke the sea and the sky and shortened the wings of the nightingale.

      It’s another example of this or that cause trying to appropriate the concept of original sin for its purposes. Those of you who’ve been here for a while know, but I’ll say it again for those who are just joining us, but I am a lifelong practicing Catholic. Growing up I was taught that because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, all of us came into the world with the stain of original sin on our souls, making us capable of sin. I was also taught that this was not something we could atone for ourselves, it was necessary for Christ to go to the cross and sacrifice Himself to atone for the sins of man. Finally, I was taught that every sin I committed, even 2000+ years after the fact, added to Christ’s suffering on the cross. It’s bad enough to know you did wrong, but it’s even worse to make the nicest guy ever take the rap. So now it’s about the planet and our children taking the rap for our mistakes.

    • Steve these non-profits only exist if they have donations and something to fight. They absolutely create hysteria to fund themselves. It’s not complicated. Follow the money. Hysteria for a cause is their entire fundraising tactic. They will not stop, ever, because they depend on it.

  5. A relatively competent junior high school science teacher—rest in peace, Mr. Porter—would tell you, and certainly his students, that individual weather events are infamously variable and prove exactly nothing about the climate.

    That is exactly like citing record cold weather to deny global warming.

    ! Since my declaration of intent, Harvard has issued a ridiculous edict designed to make social discourse, not to mention eating and drinking itself, unpleasant and difficult on campus

    It is astonishing that those who support vaccine mandates behave as though vaccines do not work.

  6. My first reaction to all the climate change (so called) stuff is always, “Wait a minute. How reliable are records pre-dating the twentieth century? Secondly, could the supposedly alarming more recent data simply appear to be alarming because we’re seeing a larger sample size? Finally, can a naturally occurring, inert gas (CO2) comprising .04% of the atmosphere cause anything other than the success of its role in photosynthesis?”

  7. Unless we are really headed for a new little ice age.

    Remember, the global warming crowd really doesn’t want to incorporate the sun into its model of what causes temperature changes on the earth. However, The sun cycle does account for a large part of the temperature variation. I find the article above interesting because I have been following the slow recovery of sunspots and solar output from the last solar minimum. I looked up the research and the intersecting magnetic fields on the sun as causes of the sunspots was interesting.

    Remember, in the 1970’s, the climate change community was pushing a new ice age very hard. They were using the same data from the 1900’s to present to show we had a cooling trend that current climate scientist show as evidence of a warming trend. The data is the same.

      • You should ask them if they trust Greta Thunberg more than Mr. Spock!

        The big point is that the people who pushed the Ice Age is coming and the people pushing the dangerous Global Warming is coming are using the same data. If you can interpret the same set of temperature data to indicate a hellfire future or an impending ice age, the data isn’t that clear.

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