October 14, 2022 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden
With a budget of $190 million, the World Bank is one of the more powerful institutions in, well, the world. It just so happens that the current president of the World Bank, David Malpass, is a Colorado College graduate who recently failed to concretely say whether he believed in human contributions to climate change.
Malpass, who received his BA in physics from CC, publicly waffled in an interview with the New York Times on an answer to the question “Do you accept the scientific consensus that the man-made burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet?” His final answer: “I’m not a scientist.”
The World Bank’s mission is to reduce poverty by lending money to poor nations to improve their economies and living standards. It mostly does so through a lending program. Recently, the World Bank has been receiving criticism for their failure to provide nations with more support to deal with the repercussions of the climate crisis.
Malpass, who did not respond to The Catalyst’s request for comment, has since come out to say that the work that the World Bank is doing to account for the consequences of climate change is comprehensive and meaningful. Still, some experts are calling for Biden to remove him from his position.
The CC grad was originally nominated into the position of President of the World Bank by former president Donald Trump. By the time of his nomination, Malpass’s economic ideology had reshaped several times. To some, these changes looked like the ebbing of economic theory based on who was in power and who could subsequently bestow it upon him.
Andy Fresen ’23, an economics student at Colorado College, spoke on some of the fluctuations David Malpass has exhibited since becoming such a public figure in the world of economics. “David Malpass worked in the pirate sector for a lot of years…and then afterwards he just created his career as a conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal,” Fresen said, “…even as a columnist he had these issues …when David Malpass writes you cannot test it. He writes it however he wants it to be.”
David Malpass does contradict himself in some of his writing as a journalist speaking both on how important trade is in the early 2010’s and then during the Trump administration writing on how restricting trade is better. “He writes what he wants to write to get to a political end,” Fresen said.
Despite this criticism, David Malpass has stated he will not resign and the Biden administration has made no moves to remove him.
More locally, Malpass raises questions as to how classes at CC balance teaching curriculum but also teaching standards of practice for individuals that will become professionals in their field.
Fresen says, “If you can’t see that climate change and what’s causing climate change is a financial risk and a risk to the improvement of human quality of life, how can we trust that you will be objective?” The inability to act on behalf of reality has caused Malpass strife on this issue, and contradicts CC’s mission to create outstanding adults both knowledgeable in their field of study and the broader issue of inequality.
Mark Eiswerth, a visiting professor in the Economics department, spoke on ways that the school tries to instill that balance. “At CC and almost any major university, students are asked to take some courses in environmental economics, natural economics, sometimes energy economics,” Eiswerth said. All these courses try to understand the complex relationship between economics and the natural world.
Jake Organ, another professor in the Econ department said that at a certain point, however, there’s only so much that the school can do to instill the importance of the relationships between economics and a variety of social issues.
“When you leave Colorado College, it is a very different world, and the question is how you transform to engage with that world,” Organ said. “College is wonderful because it’s a time to really think through complex problems…using this time to unpick some of the more trickier things…so you can go out into the world and try and really do them.”
To some at CC, a great future challenge is to work on striking this balance while empowering others to make real, concrete change.