Spring/Summer 2019 /Medical Mysteries/

Letter Box

Revelle and Gore

I read with some dismay your editorial introducing the article about Roger Revelle. While I am glad you appreciate the immense impact that Roger had in his scientific career, you have perpetuated a myth that Roger was “somehow persuaded to lend his name to an article he reportedly had no hand in authoring.” This myth was created and propagated by Al Gore, who was upset that Roger, whom he had heard lecture in Ashok Khosla’s introductory science class that Gore took at Harvard, about carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, was not supporting Gore’s political position. Gore received a D in that class, one of only two science classes he ever took in college (he received a C– in the other one). Fred Singer was co-author on the referenced paper published by the Cosmos Club in April 1991. I have attached his account of the incident, including the libel suit which he filed successfully against Dr. Justin Lancaster for suggesting, as you have, that Roger was not mentally alert during his last years and that Singer had “used” him.

I am a graduate of Pomona’s Department of Geology, as was Roger. I, like Roger, went into oceanography, and I knew him pretty well both professionally and through geology alumni activities. You can see my website for additional information on my scientific qualifications. I have worked on these ocean-atmosphere systems most of my professional life and believe I have, after a lifetime at sea, gained some understanding of how they work. I can assure you that nothing in nature is as simple as Mr. Gore seems to think it is. He is, after all, a politician, not a scientist. His entire academic background in science amounts to the two required science courses he took at Harvard. He likes to say, in his book and in his movie, that anyone who disagrees with his simplistic assessment of climate change is just like the “scientists” who killed his sister. His sister was a smoker and died of lung cancer, but the “scientists” who denied the connection killed his sister. Never mind that he—and his father before him—gew tobacco for decades in Tennessee. He says that anyone who questions his overly simplistic views about climate change is just like those scientists who killed his sister.

For the record, I still sail to the Arctic, as I have since 1967, and have personally observed that the ice is indeed melting due to the Arctic amplification, which is causing the Arctic to warm four times faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. This does not explain why sea ice in Antarctica is increasing at about the same rate that we are losing ice in the Arctic. Perhaps you or Mr. Gore can explain that and the other myriad examples of complexity in the ocean-atmosphere system. Your quotes from Dr. Lancaster that say, “You had what was an insidious example of what I would call a lack of ethics in science and the use of scientists as hired guns by the industry” would seem to conflict with his statement, dated April 29,1994, which resulted from his losing Dr. Singer’s defamation suit. There he says, “I fully and unequivocally retract and disclaim those statements and their implications about the conduct, character and ethics of Professor Singer…” It was Gore who tried to use Roger as a “hired gun,” not Fred Singer.

—Jim Kelley ’63
Loyalton, CA

EDITOR’S NOTE: I guess in cases like these we all must decide whom to believe. I’ve chosen to believe Roger’s family and close associates. As for the libel settlement, in my experience, lawsuits aren’t a dependable barometer for truth. They’re often won by those with the deepest pockets.

Aspirants, Not Victims

I read the letter titled “Korematsu in Context,” in the Winter 2019 PCM, with deep personal interest.  Four now-young men, former high school students of mine, came over the border “uninvited.” I have been deeply involved with them for eight years.  Two I adopted as adults; the other two are “mine” by affection.

The letter describes people like them as “victims,” but I would not.  They are aspirants.  They all came here for many of the reasons our forefathers came:  for safety and opportunity. The letter’s author would describe them as “illegals.”  Is that how we would describe our forefathers?  (Note: Those seeking asylum are engaged in a legal activity.)

The “crisis” the letter refers to is political theatre. The real crisis is with our values:  Are we no longer a destination of hope, the hope that brought our families here?

—David Lyman, ’66
South Pasadena, CA

No More Plastic, Please

I truly enjoy Pomona College Magazine, but was disheartened to find the latest edition arrived wrapped in plastic. With all of the programs and policies being implemented worldwide to reduce plastic usage, both to reduce fossil fuel use and to reduce plastic pollution, why, oh, why wrap the magazine?  Was this only so that you could enclose the letter asking for monetary support?  Not acceptable.  It would be far better to communicate with the target audience by email, and to make an online-only edition of PCM an option to reduce paper use/waste as well.

But seriously: no more plastic!

—Mary Stanton-Anderson ’75
University Place, WA

Dear PCM Reader

Your “Dear PCM Reader” letter prompted lots of Pomona conversation and reminiscences between my wife (Marilyn Hendrickson ’55) and me. We appreciate your letter’s approach to the reality of cost vs. your mission of connecting and a sense of pride as part of the college family. Your mission succeeded with us—many fond and proud memories.

Thank you for reminding us of the many good things Pomona College has contributed to our lives, both in the past and continuing today. The Winter 2019 issue was impressive and especially connected with us, since we are Southern California natives and lived in fire-prone Ventura three times and in the Sierra foothills for about 20 years.

—Dave Holton ’53
Pleasanton, CA

Kudos for PCM

I just want to thank you for this magazine [PCM Winter 2019]. I love geology! About 30 years ago I wrote a fictional story about the Cambrian and the Burgess Shale incident—for children and their parents and grandparents. I never got around to publishing it, but my family are now anxious to visit the exhibit in B.C.

—Barbara J. Sanders ’54
Santa Barbara, CA

PCM is an outstanding magazine, and the “Fire and Water” issue was an ideal fundraiser.

—Helena Zinkham ’75
Arlington, VA

Bravo, PCM Winter edition. The cover should be framed on a wall at MOMA.

—Marshall Hutchason ’52
Glen Head, NY

Alumni, parents and friends are invited to email letters to pcm@pomona.edu or “snail-mail” them to Pomona College Magazine, 550 North College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Letters may be edited for length, style and clarity.