To the Editors:   

Many presentations on the issue of global warming leave one with a sense of foreboding doom given the complexity of the issues humans must overcome in order to prolong our present environment. However, the presentation by Dan Schrag last Friday at Common Hour left the audience with a resounding sense of hopelessness and I believe was  completely disempowering.  While indeed the hurdles are large, Schrag is not correct in stating that “sustainability” is not worth it, and that individual contributions can only really come from budding new scientists creating techno-fixes. On the contrary, each and every one of us has a responsibility to do what we can on an individual scale, for two reasons.  First, collectively each of  our efforts  add up to make a difference; reducing our personal  consumption  collectively will reduce emissions, not enough to actually stop environmental change, but a start.  Developing and using alternative energy sources at the local and national level is a proven solution that can be supported by each of us. Political action to stop the oil lobby in Washington  and instead contribute federal support to alternate energy and transportation will help too. The list is long, and there are many avenues of individual action.

And secondly,  without hope of a  livable future, we are indeed doomed.  Hope has helped the human race overcome major hurdles in the past, and we must not give this up.  If we lose hope we will indeed end up like Venus far sooner than we need to.  So to the students and to all in the community,  keep trying and keep believing your efforts are effective.  We have to.

Bruce Kohorn
Department of Biology, Bowdoin