Letters to the Editor

Climate future more sobering than ever

Professor Michael Mann’s riveting lecture presented on Jan. 21 in the Frontiers of Science series, sponsored by the Eberly College of Science at Penn State, was billed as a “cautiously optimistic” examination of the current and future state of the Earth’s climate.

But it was a lot longer on caution than optimism. By my timing, he spoke from 11 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. about the cautions. The language — and the scientific message of that hour — were alarming. I heard about “tipping points,” “no going back,” “can collapse rapidly,” “fragile,” “melting,” “abrupt” and “irreversibility.” Then, quickly and briefly, he alluded to the size and the momentum of the popular movement to stop climate change. History, he thus maintained, is on our side, and mere politicians cannot stop it if they wanted to.

I am a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and support their program to place a fee on carbon and return the revenue gained thereby to the people, equally, as a dividend, that they can use to cope with the higher price of carbon-intensive products. I do hope history really is on our side. But the graphs, models and projections for the future of the climate presented by professor Mann seem more sobering than ever.

Mark E. Neely Jr., State College