Letters to the Editor Print

September 2007
The Risk of Doing Nothing
I am writing in response to Bob Clark’s letter to the editor in the September 2007 Columns, which commented on the June 2007 article, “Ocean Blues.” Clark thinks that “bogus concepts like climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions” are “some far out, left-wing extremist hypotheses.” Where is Clark’s scientific evidence global warming is not occurring, and that humans are not involved in its occurrence?

In making decisions it seems wise to consider the outcomes and the seriousness of the risks for the various alternatives. On the one hand, let us accept, as fact, that humans are a prime cause of global warming and its effects. These effects include the melting of glaciers and ice caps with a rise in sea level inundating vast areas of densely populated land; and the effects of climate change on food production, spread of insect pests, invasive plants, disease, and loss of wildlife habitat. These effects could possibly threaten the very survival of the human race and other living things. Let us agree that this could be extremely disastrous.

On the other hand, let us accept, as fact, that humans have little or nothing to do with global warming, and we can do nothing to try to stop it. Only the future will prove which of the two is fact.

If humans are primarily responsible for global warming, the consequences can be so disastrous that I would err on the conservative side. I would embark on an immediate concerted program to try to eliminate the human contribution to global warming, which will likely be a very expensive, tremendous long-term effort. After all, it’s not like making a bad call and losing a football game, where no long-term permanent damage is done.

f it turns out in the far future that humans were the prime cause of global warming, and we implemented effective changes to ameliorate our actions, then maybe we have preserved a living planet and enabled the survival of the human race. On the other hand, if it turns out in the far future that humans had little to do with global warming, we will have spent vast sums of money and tremendous effort unnecessarily, but we will have cleaner air, a better environment, better health and possibly a better quality of life.

We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the far future to find out what the facts are. If we do nothing and it turns out, in the far future, that humans were the prime cause of global warming, life as we know it today will be over!

Phil Rogers, ’54, ’56
Ocean Shores

No Agendas

I read the letter from Bob Clark in the September 2007 issue of Columns. Other letters evincing ignorance and denial [of climate change] appear regularly in printed media. It’s saddening to realize how government and education institutions have failed to reach so many. Perhaps the Monroes might take a look at the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports available via www.ipcc.ch. These remarkably neutral documents carefully assess what we do and do not know about climate change, its causes, its effects and its possible mitigation. Each key statement is documented and qualified, without a political/social agenda.

Jim Swift, ’75, ’80
UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography
La Jolla, Calif.

Textbook Example
Regarding the letter of Bob Clark about the “Ocean Blues” article, I would like to thank Clark, for now I can simply point to his letter when I’m discussing the logical ills of ad hominem arguments with my students. His is a textbook example. Don’t like the substance of someone’s argument? Well, attack them personally, as he does when he says, “I realize that the U Dub has a history of being a left-leaning institution full of crackpots, radicals and extremists.” While Clark laments the “distortions, falsehoods and unsupported claims” of the article, he does not pause from his personal and ideological diatribe long enough to offer anything like a reasoned rebuttal. Ah, Mr. Clark, crackpot is as crackpot does!

Timothy Cole, ’83, ’87
Orono, Maine

Against the Forces of Ignorance

President Mark A. Emmert’s column on why U.S. universities lead the world is correct but incomplete [“Keeping the Gold Standard,” Sept. 2007]. Why and how do we instill creativity and innovation? It is not automatic or universal among American colleges and universities. The key is that our finest schools, like those in Europe and elsewhere, are an institution which, over the centuries, has not only passed forward the knowledge and wisdom of the past but courageously pushed the frontiers of science and tolerance against the forces of ignorance, hate and superstition—often in the face of great misunderstanding and repression. That we have a long way to go is exemplified by several of the letters of denial [in Columns] about global climate change reacting to the June 2007 article “Ocean Blues.”

Professor Emeritus Richard Morrill, ’57, ’59
W Dept. of Geography

Record Number Crunching
Congratulations. The University of Washington finally hit over a billion dollars in research grants and contracts for 2006–07 [“UW Research Funding Sets Record,” Sept. 2007]. It started with $90 million in 1974. Just for the fun of it, I [factored] the data … on my old Hewlett-Packard 10B business calculator. It says that the compound rate from 1974 through 2006 has been 7.9 percent, shy of 8 percent per year.

In my humble opinion, it seems rather impressive. The UW has been doing all right for its research grants and contracts. However, I remember that before I retired in 1994, most of the research grants and contracts were for the School of Medicine. I don’t know if this is still true.

I also want to congratulate Columns for winning a CASE Silver Medal two years in a row.

Professor Emeritus John S. Y. Chiu
UW Foster School of Business

Editor’s Note: The UW School of Medicine accounted for $494.1 million in the record-breaking total for 2006–07.

Circular Reasoning
As a graduate of the UW in 1942 in aeronautical engineering, I attended classes taught by Professor Frederick Kirsten. He enjoyed telling us about his association with William E. Boeing, founder of Boeing [“The Right Stuff,” Sept. 2007]. Both Professor Kirsten and William Boeing were involved in the development of the cycloidal propeller, which, mounted in a boat, rotated about a vertical axis and must be used in pairs rotating in opposite directions to nullify the torque. When Kirsten told Boeing about this, Boeing said, “We don’t need your advice, Professor Kirsten.” Boeing built his boat using only one cycloidal propeller. When the boat was launched, it stayed in one place and just turned around and around. Kirsten laughed and laughed when he told us this story.

Ken Coward, ’42
San Diego

More Fat, Fewer Sprouts
When I saw on the cover of Columns an article touting native diets, “Dinner Without Reservations” [Sept. 2007], I was quite enthused to get some more insight into the robust diet of the Native American. I was however disappointed in the general view presented that these people lived on sprouts, huckleberries and lean salmon. In reality what kept all indigenous cultures across the world strong was a steady supply of animal products and particularly animal fat and organ meats.

The modern view of the native hunter is of eating and using the entire animal, and there is much truth to this when food was scarce. However it is just as likely, and documented by early explorers, that a native would kill an animal, take the choicest pieces for himself and leave the rest to be scavenged. What were the choice cuts of a freshly killed caribou? The back fat that could be mixed with meat and berries, the liver, the fat globule on the back of the kidneys (adrenal gland), the bone marrow. Two natives may even make a game out of eating the intestines: each eating from one end and seeing who can reach the middle first; the half digested grass inside was as close to a “salad” as any Native American ever tried.

The Tulalip tribe that is referenced in the article no doubt enjoyed the smoked salmon you showed pictures of; but the food they ate with relish and as remedy was more likely the eggs, the organs and parts of the head; this is where the nutrients lie. They would have known the seasons for eggs, or when the animal was at its fattest point and enjoyed its bounty then; this intense knowledge of nature and of food preparation is what is missing from our lives and any modern analysis of traditional foods.

Your newly founded Indigenous Wellness Research Institute should invest in a book by Weston A. Price called Nutritional and Physical Degeneration where they could read the variations of the diet described above by every single traditional culture he studied. Price traveled the world in the early 20th century in search of those who lived on their native diets; he traveled at a time when both modern and traditional diets could be observed within a culture (the area near the port, or the remote area away from the port). He found what you indicated in the article: When native people switched from traditional to modern diets they experienced dental cavities and deformities, as well as degenerative diseases like diabetes. His main thesis was that a traditional diet rich in fat and nutrients from healthy animals provided the ideal nourishment. This is hardly consistent with the theoretical research of the politically correct—and politically connected—nutrition establishment. Instead the validity of traditional diets rest on thousands of years of human experience and the wisdom of traditional peoples like the Tulalip tribe.

Nels Stemm, ’01
Napili, Hawaii

Remembering Willis
Thank you for the mention in the June issue of Columns on the retirement of Willis Konick [“First Take,” June 2007]. While his teaching has touched thousands of students, I can honestly say that Willis changed the course of my life.

In spring quarter of my freshman year as a pre-business major, I was taken by surprise when my advisor recommended that I take one of Willis’ literature classes. I had always detested literature courses and had studiously avoided them throughout high school by taking grammar classes instead. Fortunately, I took the advice, and was forever changed. Willis opened my eyes by effectively showing the psychology behind the characters we studied, and the political and social structures to which the authors were responding with their work.

Two weeks into fall quarter, I changed majors, and in 1983 I graduated with distinction in comparative literature. I even learned Russian along the way, which speaks to how fascinating (and accessible) Willis made Russian literature in particular.

I did go on to get my UW M.B.A., but the things that Willis taught me—the power of analogy, writing and presentation skills and, most importantly, critical thinking—were key in shaping me as a person.

Willis, you will be missed.

Beth Gorell, ’83, ’86
San Jose, Calif.

In the Sept. 2007 article about the 1960 football team, “Death Marches and Roses,” we incorrectly identified the fullback who had his appendix removed two days before the 1961 Rose Bowl. He was Joe Jones, who lettered in both 1959 and 1960.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Brief letters are more likely to be published; longer letters may be edited due to lack of space. Please include a daytime phone number and send all correspondence to: Editor, Columns Magazine, 1415 N.E. 45th St., Seattle, WA 98105. You may send e-mail to Columns or send a fax to 206-685-0611.