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Harvard President Larry Bacow says that Harvard is committed to confronting the climate crisis. Harvard fundamentally built its wealth and prestige on an unsustainable system of growth – family policies – that externalized their costs on others and did nothing to protect nature from the Anthropocene. Is Harvard reversing its position on those family policies? Is it employing a restorative standard for climate mitigation? It is pointing the world towards optimality, or growth that will multiply unforeseen threats – the very thing that happened with greenhouse gasses?

If Harvard is not changing course on family policies Bacow’s statements are misleading, with growth remaining the fundamental driver of the crisis. You cannot make any claim of a policy impact that does not start with, and become fundamentally contingent upon, people and the family policies that create them. And in a democracy, those people – comprised as relatively self-determining – are the baseline to assess costs and benefits.

The same questions can be raised with Harvard’s recent purported commitments to racial justice, child welfare, animal rights, or human rights and democracy. Is it embracing redistributive policies that eliminate the massive birth-wealth gap between black and white children? Does it apply the Children’s Rights Convention as a standard for family planning? What is it doing to prevent our species from overrunning and eliminating others? Growth and inequity have ensured the average person will have little if any impact on their systems of governance. Is Harvard reversing that process?

Source: A Human Rights Approach to Planning Families – Matthew Hamity, Carter Dillard, Sarah M. Bexell, Catharina Graff-Hughey, 2019 (sagepub.com)

Quietly undoing downstream fixes with upstream anthropocentric growth and birth inequity is disingenuous, has concentrated power in a few, and foisted social and ecological costs on others. Harvard is one of those concentrations. The family policies it tacitly accepts, which pretend that our social and ecological positions are a matter of some magic fortune, are the fundamental source of injustice. The greatest act of justice, for the vast majority who will live in the future, means recovering those costs and using the wealth to plan just and sustainable families where power is physically limited and decentralized.

Urge Larry Bacow to tell us all the truth about these matters. Contact him here:

617 495 1502
Email: president@harvard.edu

We cannot afford to lose ground on these issues having missed the fundamental driver and allow concentrations of wealth and power to use people to further exacerbate power differentials.

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