A Glimmer of Hope for Harvard


The Summer 2008 edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin had a special section on the school’s amped-up environmental efforts, including a piece on “what’s needed to slow global warming.” The letter I submitted in response was not printed in the Fall 2008 edition, but I’m delighted that these two were:

Sunny side down

So Harvard Law School has now jumped with both feet onto the global warming catastrophe bandwagon. Before committing a big part of the school’s resources to this effort, shouldn’t somebody have checked the evidence as to whether the earth is actually warming as predicted? You guys stand to have a lot of egg on your faces as this charade falls apart over the next few years.

Francis J. Menton Jr. ’75
New York City

Polar bears occasionally drown

The Summer 2008 issue wrongly imagines a global warming crisis and blames it on CO2 released by combustion of fossil fuels:

“Houses, roads and airports buckle because the permafrost is no longer permanent.” The permafrost melts because the ground is heated by the structures themselves, not by CO2.

Polar bears “are drowning.” Like humans, polar bears occasionally drown because they spend a lot of time on the water. Polar bears survived warmer periods than the present, and their numbers worldwide are the highest in decades.

“The reefs are bleaching.” Some are, especially when people dump raw sewage on them. CO2 is not the problem. Reef corals evolved hundreds of millions of years ago when both temperatures and atmospheric CO2 were significantly higher than they are today.

“Kilimanjaro’s snow is melting.” A recent retreat was a function of reduced precipitation, not higher temperatures. As of May 2008, the Tanzanian government reported that snow cover on the mountain is increasing.

The “polar ice cap is retreating.” Which one? Antarctic ice sheets and sea ice are growing. The retreat of ice in the Arctic likely has been caused by ocean floor volcanic activity since 1999, wind patterns that have blown ice into warmer waters and heat-trapping soot from industry in Asia.

Sea levels are “rising.” So they are, at the same rate as they have been for decades.

Storms are “frequent and destructive.” No more than usual, except that we have put massive new coastal development in harm’s way.

Temperatures are “increasing.” Not since 1998 they’re not. After a very active period in recent decades, solar activity has begun to settle down, taking temperatures down with it even as atmospheric CO2 levels continue to climb.

Gregory A. Inskip ’77



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