Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 21, 2018

Arresting our skid towards political and planetary degradation

On our first 4th of July, Benjamin Franklin is said to have been asked by a citizen of Philadelphia, “Mr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy? – to which he responded “it will be a republic, if you can keep it”.

First, we should remind ourselves that the definition of a republic is “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives”.  And if the Americans of that era did not understand what Franklin meant by his “if you can keep it” remark, anyone who has lived during the last century should.  By not sufficiently heeding Franklin’s warning, it is now clear that we have lost a lot of our respect for and confidence in our republic and, indeed, are in danger of not “keeping it”.

This lack of confidence in our republic today is regularly displayed by the frequent observation that our political system is not doing a good job of managing our country – followed by a litany of reasons for this. Most prominent among those reasons is the extreme level of polarization within our two-party system and the gridlock that has resulted.  If our differences are not sufficiently plentiful for some, they make up new ones.  An example of this is now being displayed on our football fields where one of America’s most revered pastimes used to be played out in relative harmony, void of political influences.  As our imagined as well as real problems grow, our democratic system becomes easier to undermine by those who prefer to change it to some sort of autocracy in which a powerful subset of citizens call the shots. In this way the democratic Weimar Republic of Germany was brought down in 1933 by that era’s greatest autocrat. If we lose confidence in our democratic system, our American republic could also be replaced by some version of Nazism. Therefore, we should all know by now what Franklin meant by his admonition, “if we can keep it”. 

To understand our present government, it is essential to note how and why it changed in recent decades. Contrary to the suggestions of some, major changes did not just instantly occur with the election of Donald Trump – whose lack of respect for and knowledge of our country’s history is, indeed, unique among previous American presidents. Trump had a great deal of help from at least two other recent Republican Presidents, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Each of these men did much to undermine time-honored American principles of representative democracy and thereby paved the way for presidential candidate Trump.

Richard Nixon began his trip to infamy in 1968 by undermining the efforts of our sitting president, Lyndon Johnson, to end the war in Vietnam. Nixon’s success in this treasonous act, contributed to his victory in the presidential election later that year and also led to the deaths of some 20,000 American soldiers with 100,000 wounded and about one million additional Indochinese casualties in the four years of warfare that followed.  By this and other actions, Nixon taught his party that winning at all costs, even if resorting to treason, was acceptable.  Fortunately, he was eventually brought down by some of his other illegal activities in what became known as the Watergate Affair. Assuming the “Nixon era” is ever accurately portrayed in the history textbooks of our public schools, the confidence of future US citizens in our government will be appropriately diminished.

Just a few years later, Ronald Reagan also stooped to that low level of foreign affairs interference in order to get to the White House. While the then sitting President, Jimmy Carter, was doing his best to get 50 American hostages released from Iran, Reagan’s election team (which included the future president, George H. W. Bush) secretly urged the Iranians to hold onto those hostages until Reagan was in the White House. Then, Reagan did, indeed, win that election thereby reaffirming Nixon’s lesson of winning by any means, including treason.

As president, Ronald Reagan then continued to interact with foreign governments in ways that were distinctly illegal.  In what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair, he orchestrated a complex agreement in which arms were illegally sold to Iran with the proceeds going to the right-wing dictatorship of Nicaragua. When exposed, Reagan admitted his role in this affair. Thus, his treasonous acts have now also been added to the public record and should appear soon in the history texts of our public schools. All of this, of course, has done great damage to the credibility of our American democracy.     

Another lesson Reagan imparted to his party was the suggestion that “government does not solve problems – it is the problem!” (this, while he was simultaneously increasing the size of government during his own eight years in office!).  This cynical and hypocritical view of government has also done great deal of damage to our representative democracy. By declaring that our government does not solve problems, what system was Reagan suggesting we replace it with? – perhaps some sort of autocracy led by himself and a group of business leaders? Have we forgotten what happened to Italy, also, when such system was adopted by Benito Mussolini in the 1920s?  We don’t know exactly what Reagan had in mind. We only know for sure that he significantly reduced our confidence in our representative republic thereby opening the door to other less democratic options.   

And so now we presently have another President, Donald Trump, who seems to have also gotten to the White House via the direct assistance provided by another autocratic foreign power (the details of this are presently emerging).  Both Nixon and Reagan might have been proud of Donald – whose motto is also winning at all costs and whose method is also to show no respect for public sector government (most of the officials Trump has selected during his presidency have been ill-suited to their tasks and have quickly been thrown under the bus by their boss, thereby leaving the boss as the only man left standing).  As the antidemocratic deeds of this American anomaly continue to play out, we should not be taken in by the “Great America” he promises. The autocrats of history have a well-documented tendency of taking their devotees down with them when their phony dreams begin to unravel.

Having lived his life at the very centers of English, French and American power, Benjamin Franklin became both a wise and worldly man. It is telling, therefore, that he knew not only what the best form of government was for the USA but also emphasized the type of vigilance that would be required to keep it. In the past, the greatest threats to our representative republic have come from within our political system.  While our founding fathers did not know Nixon, Reagan, and Trump, of course, they knew their ilk – that is, demagogues who seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by rationandal argument. Like it or not that is what we presently have and future elections provide our only means of “righting” our ship.  Yes, in order to “right” in this case we need the help of all, including those on the Right who value our representative republic. 

So, finally, how does all of this relate to the climate change problem?  Two of the latter-day Republicans discussed above have become symbolic and literal leaders of antienvironmental movements. Among the first things Reagan did upon reaching the White House was to remove the symbolic solar panels President Carter had installed on the roof of that building and then encouraged Americans to go back to driving large, gas-guzzling vehicles. He was clearly in the pocket of our fossil fuel industries. Our present Republican President Trump is even worse – that is, a hard-core denier of the science behind man-caused global warming.

While I used to be a political independent, I have now totally given up on the Republican Party. They have shown themselves to have far too few conscientious grownups in their midst even while they have controlled all three branches of our federal government.  Therefore, along with the intellectual leader of their party, George Will, I hope that all seats in the 2018 and 2020 elections go to Democrats. The Republicans have all too clearly shown that the problems of today are too much for them to address in any helpful manner and that their only real concern is to keep our nation’s wealth where it presently is – even if that means letting both our republic and planet go down the tubes.  


Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 1, 2018

St. Olaf College needs to meet Ella Lagé

As the readers of this website know, I have often used my alma mater, St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minnesota, as an example of an institution that should know better than to be invested in the production and use of fossil fuels. Certainly, St. Olaf College is aware of the science behind global warming and (I assume) is aware of our moral responsibility to preserve human friendly conditions on this plant for future generations. Nevertheless, it is also a fact that  a portion of the considerable financial endowments of St. Olaf are still invested in companies that seek to find, remove, and/or use increasing amounts of fossil fuels. While I have chided St. Olaf’s President and Board of Regents for these investments and have encouraged them to divest their assets from all of them for the sake of future generations, they have so far refused to do so. The only reason I have heard from them for this is that any divestments by them would be too small as to make a difference.

Therefore, when I came across the U-tube video to be referred to below, it immediately occurred to me that the leadership of St. Olaf College needs to meet Ella Lagé.  As a private citizen of Berlin, Germany, she found a way to make a great difference in fossil fuel investments and did this with meager financial resources.  Enough said.  Please listen carefully to Ella’s presentation and help her (and me) convince our colleges, universities, and other institutions to divest their resources from fossil fuel production and use.   

See this video at

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | June 10, 2018

Up-to-date summary by Kevin Anderson

Over the six years that this web site has been running, I have occasionally included comments and major addresses by Kevin Anderson, a British atmospheric scientist and international leader in the field of climate change. This post points to one of his latest addresses given in Manchester, England, in March of 2018.

The U-tube video to be referred to here includes introductory comments by the mayor of Manchester and then the address of Kevin Anderson, starting at about 20 minutes into the program. 

Please listen carefully to Dr. Anderson’s comments.  He differs from most scientists in that he does not try to “soft peddle” the realities associated with our rising CO2 levels.  For a variety of reasons, many do not like to hear what Dr. Anderson has to say. One of these reasons is that many do not want it to be known that they were provided the “unvarnished truth” about climate change while we still had a chance to do something about it.  This large group includes a multitude of public officials, industrial and academic leaders, as well as members of the general public. None of us want the historic record to show how utterly foolish we have been.      

So, its your choice.  Listen to or ignore one of the most accurate assessments of our present state and the future at:

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 20, 2018

The most depressing aspect of global warming today

One might suspect that the most depressing aspect of global warming would be the distinctly dire predictions of what our planet will become in just a few decades if our business-as-usual lifestyles continue – as there is good reason to expect they will into the foreseeable future. The specific problems associated with that predicted future include, sea level rises causing the loss of much of the world’s most productive and populated coastal regions, an increase in the frequency of catastrophic weather events, an increase in drought conditions throughout much of the Earth, and the massive dislocations of the world’s existing populations as they try to move from ravaged to less ravaged regions. While these changes will certainly become the major causes of human depression when they hit with full force at some later date, they do not yet constitute what I believe is the major cause of climate related depression.

So, what then is the major climate-change-related cause of depression today. In my opinion (and this certainly does apply to me), the major cause of this form of depression today is simply how obtuse a controlling portion of the world’s population is to the advice it receives from its scientific communities. To these folks, it seems that the field of science is just one of several human disciplines that will determine what happens in the future to our planet. More specifically, too many of us seem to think that future physical conditions on our planet will be determined by the thoughts and conclusions drawn from many intellectual areas in addition to those of the sciences. These other areas might include economics, religion, politics, history, sociology, phycology, business, law, and all of the humanities including literature, the fine arts and sports. Clearly, human beings care a great deal about all of these disciplines and generally view the world through the lenses they provide.  On this website, I have provided amble evidence of this preference even within our colleges and universities via several posts directed at my own alma mater, St. Olaf College of Northfield MN. (see “why I give St. Olaf College such a bad time”, posted in December, 2017).

Unfortunately, it is also true that Mother Nature pays little attention to the ideas and wisdom emerging from these other areas. They exists primarily for the purpose of understanding human behavior.  Only the fields of science have shown a strong correlation between their thought processes and what actually happens within the physical universe. This should not be surprising. By definition, “science” is the one discipline of mankind whose only purpose is to understand, explain, and predict what Mother Nature has done in the past and will do in the future in response to any changes that occur in our physical world.

Modern science tells us that we have far better prospects for solving the global warming problem NOW than we will have later when the problem will become literally insolvable.  If we stay on our present course of continued CO2 emissions, the legacy we will be leaving our grandchildren is the worst one of all – one in which there is no hope left for solving this problem – because too many tipping points will have been crossed. That, indeed, is the thoroughly depressing prospect towards which we are now headed – all because human beings have not assigned primary importance to the messages coming from science.

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | February 13, 2018

Assumptions of the intentionally ignorant

Advanced human civilizations have been here for about 6,000 years. That’s a long time, right? And over that period, mankind has faced down some very “tough times”, and is likely to continue to do so, right? And, we now know so much about science and technology that we can fix just about anything that comes up, right? So, perhaps we should not be fooled into believing long-term doomsday forecasts concerning global warming when things are not yet so bad. It can be distinctly unpleasant to accept the messages coming from science and is much easier to go with the flow of the business-as-usual community, right? So maybe we should not yet pay so much attention to the climate scientists. If the powerful and time-honored industrial forces of the USA tell us that continued use of fossil fuels is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the lifestyles that people have come to expect, maybe we should just continue to put our future in their hands, right? And this, after all, is what many or most of us are already doing and there is a great deal of comfort in numbers, right?

Unfortunately, an appropriate term for the above simplistic line of thinking is “technical hubris” and this unjustified confidence in the face of real science is moving our planet towards the edge of the human-friendly stable state we have enjoyed over the last 6,000 years.  But who cares?  “Something” will come up, right?

One of the most disappointing aspects of all of this is that even our institutions of higher education suffer from this malady of unwarranted hubris, as demonstrated by the lifestyles they promote and their substantial financial investments in the fossil fuel industries. This includes our wealthiest universities, such as Harvard, and our smaller liberal arts colleges, such as my alma mater, St. Olaf College of Northfield, MN. These educational institutions have mature science departments that might be expected to know a lot about the science of climate change. Nevertheless, the Presidents and Boards of Regents of those institutions almost uniformly go with the flow of our out-of-control, fossil-fuel-driven businesses-as-usual. Most of our colleges and universities are essentially wedded to those controlling financial interests and, as I have personally found, some are now actually afraid to talk openly about some of the most important aspects of the problem. In the process, our colleges and universities have become businesses themselves more than centers of intellectual thought – especially on this most important issue of our era.

The unwarranted and potentially fatal assumptions described above can provide both individuals and institutions with a convenient means of avoiding responsibility for the mess we are making on our planet. If one were to acknowledge the prevailing messages of science, one would then be accepting responsibility for doing something about it, right? And, depending on one’s present lifestyle, that might constitute a tough row to hoe. What? Cut back on my flying habits! Or, divest my assets from our lucrative fossil fuel industries! Surely, you’re joking Dr. Grimsrud! It’s much easier and far more pleasant to go along with the soothing message of the Business as Usual community – and this relieves one of the responsibility of actually doing something about it.  So, better to simply “enjoy the party” while it lasts, right? Intentional ignorance definitely has its advantages.

As suggested in my previous post, perhaps use of the Judicial Branch is the only way we can get a majority, including the intentionally ignorant, to do what needs to be done. Most of us are not criminals and will tend to obey the court-supported laws of our country.

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | January 30, 2018

Youngsters in court, our best hope?

In one of my previous posts of Nov. 11, 2017, I provided a “heads up” concerning the most recent efforts of Dr. James Hansen to get urgently needed action against the man-caused warming of our planet. Since about 1980, Dr. Hansen has done his very best to get that action from our government and the private sector. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that has been provided by climate scientists on this problem, pathetically little action has been taken, to date, almost 40 years after Dr. Hansen’s initial efforts. Because both the Executive and Legislative Branches of the USA have failed to do what needs to be done, Dr. Hansen and a group of youngsters are trying to get that needed action though our Judicial Branch. This is a novel approach that might, at last, bear fruit. For an update on how they are doing, see

The video shown concerns a recent court proceeding in San Francisco where President Trump’s lawyer was attempting prevent further consideration of the plaintiff’s case. A great deal of other information concerning this program (called “Our Children’s Trust”) is also provided at the website referred to above. This includes a summary of all previous legal actions undertaken, to date.

I can easily understand Dr. Hansen’s change of tactics – moving on to the Judicial branch and giving up on the Executive and Legislative. Both of the latter branches of our government are solidly in the grips of the Business-as-Usual, fossil-fuel-driven forces of the USA. In addition, it has been one of the greatest disappointments of my life to see that even our centers of intellectual excellence – that is, our colleges and universities – are also firmly in those BaU grips and typically hide behind a few solar panels and windmills on their campuses whenever asked to provide more substantial action and leadership on this issue. Hopefully, the adults that serve in our Judicial branches are less beholding to the fossil fuel industries and will have the courage to behave like responsible grownups when confronted by Dr. Hansen’s small band of kids.

In addition, there is always the possibility that the example set by these kids will shame the leaders of our government and institutions of higher education into finally becoming fully invested in the solutions to, rather than the causes of, global warming.

Posted by: ericgrimsrud | January 23, 2018

2017, the year our climate began to spin out of control

There are now daily reports of changes taking place on Earth that are directly linked to the fact that our planet is rapidly getting warmer. In searching the internet for the best summaries of these, I came across a recent article in MIT’s publication, Technology Review, entitled “The year climate change began to spin out of control” by its Editor, James Temple. Without additional comment, I encourage you to read this article at

An opinion by the Washington Post Editorial Board this morning (1/21/18) has prompted this post. It was entitled “The shutdown brouhaha has covered up far bigger news” in which the “bigger news” was correctly said to be man-caused global warming. I have included a portion of that editorial below.

“ONE BYPRODUCT of the day-to-day chaos of the Trump presidency is that the nation’s biggest, long-term challenges are often forgotten. While Washington spent this week agonizing over the prospect of a totally unnecessary government shutdown, what should have been far bigger news went nearly unremarked.

According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year was one of the warmest years on record. …… One warm year is not necessarily cause for concern. The trend, however, is. The past three years were the warmest three ever recorded. The five warmest years in the record all came since 2010. Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the data came since 2001. This decade is on track to be warmer than the 2000s, which were warmer than the 1990s, and so on. The heating of the Earth is unmistakable.

Some climate doubters insist that while the warming trend is established, humans’ responsibility is not. This assertion is nearly as absurd as denying the warming in the first place. It is not coincidence that breakneck warming occurred just as humans began pumping increasing amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

…….Others argue that the country should not get lost in an unsolvable disagreement on the science but rather just talk about solutions. But without a clear sense of the problem, policymakers will waste time and money on the wrong responses. If global warming were a totally natural phenomenon, the task would be simply to build a society more resilient to temperature extremes, crazy weather, droughts, floods and scrambled-up ecosystems. But because humans are warming the planet, the top priority must be to remove the underlying cause by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year also marked a recent low in the federal government’s response to climate change. President Trump installed a climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt, at the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling the end of landmark climate rules on power companies. Mr. Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, pushed for a pro-coal policy so absurd that the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected it out of hand.

In 50 years, many of the unnecessary distractions that Mr. Trump packed into his presidency will be forgotten. But no one will forget how selfishness and purposeful ignorance reigned in the United States as the world began to cook.”

I could not agree more with the message of this editorial. Our current President has found it all too easy to “rope in dopes” by encouraging them to place priority on issues of minor importance while ignoring the ones they should focus on. In addition to the example provided in the WP editorial, another occurred recently when President Trump unnecessarily involved the White House in the “taking a knee” issue being played out at the beginning of NFL football games. Instantly a multitude of “dopes” out there took the bait he offered them thereby moving substantial issues one more rung down the ladder.

The readers of my website will have noticed that I have repeatedly criticized my alma mater, St. Olaf College of Northfield, MN, for not taking a much stronger leadership role with respect to the man-caused global warming problem. Instead, the college seems to embrace other issues of distinctly lower importance. Note, for example, that on January 23, 2018 St. Olaf College’s Institute for Freedom and Community will be hosting on a forum ( on the controversies surrounding the NFL and its players taking a knee during the national anthem. President Trump must be singing “Um Yah Yah!” (the St. Olaf fight song) over that one.  Isn’t it about time for St. Olaf College to sponsor an in depth forum on the greatest real problem facing mankind today?



Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 31, 2017

Why I give St. Olaf College such a bad time

Those who have followed this website have noted that I have frequently used my alma mater, St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minnesota, as an example of the weak leadership that has been provided, to date, by our institutions of higher education in the fight against global climate change. While considering the reasons why I do this, I recently came across an essay by Business Green author Leo Barasi who shares my concern, and provided the answer to the question posed in my title. On December 27, 2017, Mr. Barasi wrote:

“2017 has left climate deniers with nowhere to go. Merciless hurricanes, heatwaves, floods, and droughts swept the planet all year, along with impossible-sounding fires – in icy Greenland; and in California in December. All are an early taste of what life on a hotter world would be like. Public opinion recognizes the link with climate change, with international polls showing that worries about global warming are now at record levels with vanishingly few people thinking it’s a hoax.

Yet the climate war is far from over. While climate denial may have lost, there is another problem: climate apathy. Most people understand climate change is happening, but just don’t think about it much and don’t accept they should change their lives to deal with it. This matters because stopping dangerous climate change won’t be possible with only popular measures like replacing coal power stations with solar panels. There will have to be difficult changes too, like cutting emissions from flying and meat eating. So long as many people are apathetic, governments will avoid the hard changes that are also needed.

The death of climate denial is one of the most under-appreciated stories of 2017. When the climate deniers played their hand this year they found the world had left them behind. But climate apathy is proving more resilient than denial, and is stopping the world confronting what it will take to live up to its promise to stop dangerous warming. It will take more work to turn that apathy into action.”

So that, in a nut shell, is why I am giving St. Olaf College a bad time. I am trying to get them to move beyond their present state of apathy concerning the most important problem of our time. My alma mater should be providing much more leadership on this issue than it does considering the abundant assets St. Olaf College has in all intellectual areas, including both the sciences and the humanities. Up to this point in time, however, its timid response to this potentially catastrophic problem is very disappointing to those of us who have personal connections to the college and also understand the science behind global warming (my St. Olaf education was not waisted). From my own interactions with St. Olaf on this topic, I believe that the college needs to recall the fact that it was intended to be much more than a successful financial enterprise catering to business-as-usual forces of its region. As it enters the new year of 2018, St. Olaf College might consider living up to its original motto, “Onward, onward, Christian soldiers!” and its new one “Oles can and Oles will” by joining worldwide efforts to preserve livable conditions on the only planet we have. For starters, St. Olaf can help in this effort by changing or terminating its most carbon intensive activities and by divesting itself from carbon intensive industries. In addition, it should stop suggesting that its windmills and solar panels provide it with a free pass to some sort of “pretend world” with respect to their other high carbon activities. Living in the real world, where there are no such things as “good” or “ethical” emissions of carbon dioxide, is the only way any of our institutions can be of assistance.



Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 16, 2017

Yes, there is life without flying!

It is ironic that prior to the 20th Century, people wondered whether or not humans could learn to fly and now we are asking ourselves if we can learn to live without flying. When I make the suggestion of not continuing this most carbon-intensive of all human activities, I know that suggestion is almost always going to be ignored. Essentially everyone of moderate or above means has become addicted to the convenience of flight and is not yet likely to consider giving it up. Instead, most will almost certainly want to continue flying and at increasing frequencies even though climate change scientists have told us countless times that the lives of our grandchildren will thereby be detrimentally affected.

The resistance to this suggestion is entirely expected. After all, my friends might say, what would our modern lifestyles be without fast transport by aircraft? We have places to go and people to see, right? Could we possibly return to the travel limitations of the ‘50’s? No way! is the resounding answer. I suspect that many even doubt that a modern professional and personal life is possible without transport by aircraft. How could the students of St. Olaf College, for example, get to the far off destinations of their now 50-year old, nation-leading Studies Abroad programs without flying? Sure, many of my generation travelled abroad on those slow boats to wherever during the summer time but now our kids must get there and back quickly so that the more traditional components of their studies can be attended to on campus. And, of course, those students must have an instructor with them for both the on-campus and off-campus experiences, right? How else could the college charge tuition fees on top of the travel expenses? In addition, why not offer the same type of enrichment programs for the alumni, parents, and all friends of St. Olaf College. The future of such programs is endless and will, indeed, be forcefully pursued – according to the latest Fall 2017 publication of the St. Olaf Magazine.

As a scientist, citizen and grandpa observing all of this, however, it is clear to me that far too many of us do not take sufficiently seriously the future of our planet beyond the lives of our immediate families. Instead, we happily pass the environmental costs of our most carbon-intensive habits on to our grandchildren and their families. In my opinion, all of this is a testament to (1) the limited scientific intelligence of human beings, (2) a surprising lack of concern for other generations, and (3) the ease with which our consciences are soothed by corporate propaganda. Throw a bit of “come fly with me” sloth into the mix and you have a “nobody home” situation in which the forces of immediate gratification determine everything.

It might still be helpful, nevertheless, for people to know that there are, in fact, some environmentally conscientious individuals who have managed to swear off their most carbon-intensive activities and especially that of flying. A climate scientist named Peter Kalmus is an example of such a person and his story can be read at

Note that Dr. Kalmus is a very busy person who used to fly about 50,000 miles per year. He presently has not flown since 2012, however, for the reasons I have suggested here and remains just as active and happy in his profession. Yippee! Proof that it can be done!

Another person who has not flown for many years and yet has a busier professional life than nearly everyone reading this post is Dr. Kevin Anderson of London’s Tyndall Centre, Great Britain’s leading center for climate modeling.

Dr. Anderson is one of the leading climate scientists in the world who arranges his travel plans very carefully in order to avoid all travel by air. Recently, he went from London to China and back by train in order to attend an international meeting and make several professional visits while also attending to a lot of “office work” while in transit. During his entire month-long trip, I would assume that maintaining his usual communications with everyone in his personal and professional life was also achieved via his cell phone and PC. In addition, Dr. Anderson provides regular presentations of his research via the internet so that all interested parties around the world can see and even speak with him without incurring of a greenhouse gas cost. I strongly recommend that you watch at least one of his recorded talks, such as that at If you are able and willing to give about 30 minutes of your busy day to this video, you might be as profoundly affected as I have been by the both the professional and personal example set by Dr. Anderson.

There are now a few websites that promote abstinence of air travel and provide helpful discussions of how this can be done most conveniently. Two of them are and Over 400 academics have signed a petition at the first site mentioned and several Earth scientists have joined Dr. Kalmus in telling their stories at the second.

Individuals that take up this lifestyle often note that they are respected for the examples they provide and, most importantly, their examples are then often followed by others. Perhaps the most important contribution to the climate change problem these scientific “non-flyers” make are the examples they provide for others on how to live an environmentally responsible life. In order to have the total needed effect, however, these all too rare examples of leadership must be multiplied by the thousands and that is why I am constantly encouraging the leadership of our colleges and universities to provide much more leadership than they do. Who is better positioned than they to learn all about the need for immediate, all-out action against greenhouse gas warming AND how to impart that knowledge and commitment to others. And, I hope I can assume here that the leaders of our academic institutions are mindful of the wise worlds of Albert Schweitzer: “In teaching, example is not the most important thing – it is the only thing”.

Older Posts »