World Bank President Refuses to Answer 'Gotcha' Question on Climate Change, Now Biden Admin Is Out to Replace Him: Report


There were plenty of words and terms we started using a lot more during the pandemic year of 2020. Some already existed (“asymptomatic,” “social distancing,” “new normal”) and some were neologisms (“the ’rona,” “covidivorce,” “Zoom-bombing.”)

My personal favorite — and one that should stick around — is “ultracrepidarian.” It comes from a Latin phrase: “Sutor, ne ultra crepidam,” or “shoemaker, not beyond the shoe.” An “ultracrepidarian,” thus, is one who goes beyond the shoe and offers advice and policy prescriptions that are outside his or her area of expertise.

The word became popular during the pandemic because, well, there were so many of them.

Health experts were making policy prescriptions — in particular a certain Dr. Fauci, the most powerful single unelected American bureaucrat since the end of World War II.

Politicians, meanwhile, enacted measures they assured us were guided by The Science™, such as imposing draconian mask mandates and indoor dining rules they didn’t follow, or closing the gardening sections of big-box stores because there’s a wellspring of community transmission.

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Then the 2020 election came, and we got an entire administration of ultracrepidarians. In fact, they so want everyone engaged in top positions to go beyond the shoe that President Joe Biden’s administration might be about to fire someone because he refused to.

According to a report from Axios on Friday, the administration wants World Bank President David Malpass out of his job “because they believe he’s weak on climate, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Why is he weak on climate change? Well, apparently because he admits it’s beyond his ken.

According to Reuters, Malpass was speaking at the Concordia Annual Summit, a Climate Week event in New York City hosted by The New York Times — usually not the kind of venue to which a climate-change denier would be expected show up.

However, the concern was over the fact the World Bank hasn’t set a deadline to stop giving funding to fossil fuel projects.

Malpass was asked whether he thought “manmade burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet.”

“I don’t even know. I’m not a scientist,” he said.

Well, that did it. An economist admitting he didn’t know whether fossil fuel use isn’t just contributing to global warming but is “rapidly and dangerously warming the planet”? Sure, there may not have been a definition of “rapidly” or “dangerously” and this was clearly a gotcha question — but j’accuse, David Malpass!

“Malpass, a Trump holdover, was viewed suspiciously by the Biden administration from the beginning. That suspicion has now been confirmed. And he’s been on thin ice for months,” Axios reported.

“Malpass’ refusal to acknowledge fossil fuels were warming the planet set off international furor, including calls to resign.”

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Note the elision of the words “rapidly and dangerously.” And, just to be clear, Malpass made it clear he believes climate change is anthropogenic in an interview the following day.

“I’m not a denier,” Malpass said, according to Reuters.

“It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from manmade sources, including fossil fuels, methane, the agricultural uses, the industrial uses, so we’re working hard to change that,” he said.

Axios, ever even-handed, called this “damage control.” Perhaps it was, but it never occurred to the authors to question why a straight-up covert “climate denier” would appear at an event for Climate Week hosted by the Northeast United States’ most left-leaning major news outlet.

All he did was say he didn’t know, himself, whether those levels were rapid and dangerous in a relative sense because he wasn’t a scientist — not that fossil fuels weren’t warming the planet.

In his role, Malpass has to trust the World Bank’s experts on energy emissions and balance whatever climate change risk he believes exists with the mission of the World Bank, which is using contributions from its member nations to assist the developing world in its development.

Setting an arbitrary deadline to end the funding of fossil fuels would be thoroughly counterproductive to this mission and further impoverish millions, given that access to cheap, reliable energy is a prerequisite for human development — but then, the kinds of people who fulminate over Malpass’ answer to a gotcha question are far removed from that sort of poverty.

Should Biden have the power to fire Malpass?

The good news is that isn’t entirely up to the Biden administration as to whether or not Malpass gets dislodged from his position. While the United States president typically nominates the World Bank president, he is confirmed by the bank’s board of executive directors — and would have to be ousted that way.

If not, Malpass’ term expires in 2024.

Plenty want him gone before then, however — including former Vice President Al Gore, who said it was “ridiculous to have a climate denier the head of the World Bank.”

“Some Biden officials have gone as far as gaming out potential replacements — including Gore and former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now Biden’s climate envoy,” Axios reported. “Biden’s thinking isn’t known.”

Leaving aside the obvious jokes about “Biden’s thinking” not being known, if you need an encapsulation of how preposterous and agenda-driven the growing calls to remove Malpass for not being an ultracrepidarian are, consider the replacements being floated.

Yes, both Gore and Kerry are known for banging pots together about climate change as loudly as possible.

Neither is a scientist, however, just like David Malpass isn’t.

And unlike Malpass, neither is an economist, either.

Outside of budget negotiations in the Senate and in campaign strategy meetings, neither has spent serious time wrestling with economic issues — and they certainly don’t have in-depth professional experience in the field, unlike Malpass, a former economist with Bear Stearns and an official in the Treasury Department.

The only qualification both share for the job — if one wishes to call it a qualification — is they want to artificially hasten the transition to renewable energy no matter what the cost is, both in money and in quality of life.

This is all bad enough in the United States and the West, but it will force untold levels of misery and suffering upon the residents of the developing world if the World Bank is guided by the Gore/Kerry agenda.

As with COVID-19, there’s a very good chance millions — if not billions — would be subjected to poverty and despair because of activist ultracrepidarians who lack most (if not all) of the requisite knowledge necessary to handle the situation.

And they might get their chance to head up the World Bank, all because the accomplished economist at its head admitted, as he should have, that he didn’t know everything.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture