If you want proof of how decisively the climate zeitgeist has begun to shift, you could look to Washington and the transition between the Trump and Biden eras. But you could also look further west, to Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, which routinely tops the rankings of America’s best public universities. It’s a massive institution whose faculty and graduates have collected scores of Nobel, Pulitzer and MacArthur prizes; somewhere on the surface of the moon there’s a plaque marking its first extraterrestrial alumni chapter, because all the astronauts on Apollo 15 had studied there. It couldn’t be more middle-American, with deep ties to, among other things, the state’s world-leading automotive industry. And so, in 2015, it came as no great shock when the university’s president, Mark Schlissel, rejected student calls for divestment from fossil fuel companies. “Fossil fuels enable us to operate the university, to conduct research and to provide patient care,” he said. “At this moment, there is no viable alternative to fossil fuels at the necessary scale. In addition, most of the same companies that extract or use fossil fuels are also investing heavily in a transition to natural gas or renewables, in response […]


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