Posted by: ericgrimsrud | August 25, 2018

Folks at St. Olaf College need to read this

I have often wondered what it might take for the President and Regents of St. Olaf College to envision the absolutely disastrous path the world continues to follow by its “business as usual” attitudes concerning our use of fossil fuels.  In view of the continued financial investments of St. Olaf College in fossil fuel industries and the exceedingly high carbon foot-prints of many of their most highly touted international travel programs, one is forced to conclude that St. Olaf College just “doesn’t get it” – that is, the latest scientific implications of climate change. Given that St. Olaf College claims to be a leader in the field of undergraduate education, its selective ignorance on this most important of all scientific issues is most unfortunate as it is also downright anti-intellectual and cowardly. Yes, it does take some courage to go against the grain of the B as U forces, many of whom I suspect are generous donors to St. Olaf College.

So, when I came upon the attached article at

I thought it might get through to the folks at St. Olaf who claim to be directing an up-to-date institution of higher education and, in addition, one that claims to have a high regard for the moral aspects of mankind’s presence on this planet.  Enough said.  If this article does not awaken the President and Regents of St. Olaf College to the need for real and forceful action in this area, perhaps nothing I can say will.  As the article makes clear, mere lip service, a windmill, and a bunch of solar panels will no longer cut it.  Changes in basic life styles are required now so that our grandchildren will have a chance of mere sustenance later.


  1. OK Uncle Eric, I’ll take the bait. Fact is I agree with you. Our favorite institutions should be working harder on their carbon footprints. But each of us in our own personal daily decisions needs to do the same. Are we applying the same standards that you want St. Olaf to follow to our own families? I ask this rhetorically. I’m not picking on your family alone.

    Can you run the numbers on what each mile of air travel per person generates in greenhouse gases? This is something every consumer should know as they’re scouring the internet looking for the “cheapest” flight from point A to point B. There’s the apparent cost and then there’s the real cost. Each of us should know the full real cost.

  2. Hi John, Thanks for your comments

    Yes, of course, it is not just St. Olaf College that needs to make changes in their carbon footprints. I pick on them only because that school is my own alma mater and because we need to get organizations (not just individuals) up to date and active on this issue. As an individual, the fact that I no longer fly, unless absolutely necessary (which now happens about once every four years), is not even noticed by the airlines. However, if St.O made such an announcement, it would get a lot more attention. Leadership by example is needed, not just talking the talk. What others in my family do is up to them, of course. My kids are now grownups who I am sure will become increasingly concerned about the planet they will be leaving for their children.

    Now how do we manage to reduce global emissions from all sources, not just air travel? There is just one way, I am quite sure that would have a chance of doing this. That is a stiff and annually increasing carbon tax associated with the use of our atmosphere as a garbage dump for CO2 emissions (as should have been done several decades ago). Of course, our investments in the fossil fuel industries (including those of St. Olaf College) must also be stopped. If StO knows anything about the science of global warming, their financial support of the FF industries is downright shameful. (Note that the StO President has defended those investment by claiming that they give him a “seat at the table”!!!! While I have asked him to explain how that “leverage” has done any good, he has not yet responded and, I suspect, there is no real meaning to that silly excuse. He and most other college presidents talk the talk more than walk the walk and thereby send the wrong message to their student. As you know very well, John, the forces of Business as Usual are very strong and StO is not up to that challenge. It might take another Martin Luther in our midst to change that.

  3. Eric,

    Amen to a stiff carbon tax. It needs to be applied globally. We need to reduce human population growth, which I believe will come with a stiff global carbon tax. I am in support of the U.S. reversing its pathetic present course and becoming a leader even if in the short run it costs us in terms of economic competitiveness.

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve cut your air travel drastically. I’ve done the same.

    Another part of the solution is terrestrial carbon sequestration. I think that I’ve understood you to believe that this a fairly minor component of the solution. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that. If we can decrease human population, reverse urban sprawl and increase forest coverage, decrease our consumption of products which require short rotation mono-culture forestry, and increase the global acreage of old forests, we can put a significant dent in atmospheric carbon build.

  4. John,

    In addition, the future warming will probably not occur smoothly asCo2 levels continue to go up. Soon abrupt and irreversible warming will also set in due to the vaporization of huge carbon deposits such as those in the oceans and permafrost and even peat bogs. At that point all hell will follow and we can kiss our precious asses goodby. When exactly don/t know but it will not be a linear future, but an abruptly changing one.
    Have a nice day and remember nothing can beat “doing it now” rather than later.


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