Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 7, 2019

A debate at Harvard on divestment

On this website, I have repeatedly requested the administration and faculty of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, to provide the reasons for why the endowment funds of that college should be invested in fossil-fuel producing industries as they currently are. I have even asked the President of St. Olaf College, David Anderson, if St.O has any intention of divesting itself from those industries and his answer was simply “no”. Therefore, I have made some effort in the last few years to get my alma mater to think more deeply about this issue and, if not devest itself, at least understand and explain why they intend to continue those investments.

So far, I have heard of only a couple of trivial reasons for St.O’s actions and will not embarrass them again by repeating them here. Instead, I will ask them to watch the video I will refer to below. It is a visual and verbal recording of a debate recently held at Harvard University between two faculty members, one is for divestment and the other is against. Like St. Olaf College, Harvard has chosen not to divest itself, so far, but the issue remains a highly contested one on its campus. As evidenced by this video, the quality of intellectual thought on this issue at Harvard appears to be couple tiers above that at St. Olaf College. Therefore, my object in sharing this video here is to raise the quality of discussion at St.O to above that of the “too small to matter” defense. In addition, I hope that St.O viewers note that at Harvard University, the students in attendance are entitled to a question and answer session following a presentation concerning the difficult, but most important subject of our time. This simple observation contrasts with one of my own presentations at my alma mater in September of 2016 when the faculty moderator in charge announced about half way through my planned interaction that the students needed to get back to “their studies” and thus prevented any discussion with the students. Apparently, Harvard students are allowed to stay up past 8 pm.

As a graduate of St. Olaf (class of “66 – back when we did, indeed, have to get our dates back to the women’s dorms by 10 pm), I, for one, care very much about the degree to which the most important problem of today is being understood and addressed at St. Olaf College.

Thus, I refer you the promised debate at



  1. OTT. Eric, your blog is today my escape from living in a basically inhabitable Victorian house. I have discovered a new religious sekt in Sweden. Climate sceptics. They are aggressive. hyperactive, argumentative and obsessed. They know everything but can support nothing with hard data. Almost everyone belives, sorry “knows”, something different. They are like 250 different sekts, each praying to a different mixture of climate myths. I use a numbering system when I argue with them. “See myths #45 and 72”. Saves a lot of time. Problem is: they are growing; fueled by immigration problems, Trump the Salvior, and YouTube “video proofs”.
    But, I wanted to share a bit of good news. In the developing world solar and wind is growing very fast and passed fossil fuels for new electricity generation in 2017. Plans to build coal powered station are abandoned. Solar and wind are set to totally dominate for new capacity. Of course, it should and could have happened 20 years ago!

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