Letters

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2015

All in the Family

I’ve always been proud of my family’s University of Minnesota roots. I graduated from the University, as did my husband and two daughters. I worked for University of Minnesota Extension for over 38 years and continue to do contract work and volunteer as a master gardener. The family stories [Fall 2014] inspired me to total up all University family connections. My older sister graduated in 1966, the first of our extended family to do so. My youngest daughter’s husband is also a graduate. My husband has two brothers, three sisters, and one sister-in-law who also graduated from the U. That’s a lot of University connections!

Colleen Hondl Gengler (B.S. ’73) Iona, Minnesota

Thanks for your great Fall issue. I particularly enjoyed Generations of Alumni. But I can’t resist one-upping that whole crowd of youngsters. One hundred years ago this fall my father, Merle Potter, and my mother, Lucy How, were entering their junior year at the University of Minnesota. Pop was in the first class to graduate from the U’s new School of Journalism. Mom majored in sociology. My aunt Ruth How and her husband-to-be, Sam Campbell, graduated eight years after them in 1924. Then my turn in 1942 and 30 days later I ended up in the U.S. Navy. My brother Addison earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in the ’50s.

After the war I got my master’s degree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from the U of M East. But you know what? I never got a Harvard T-shirt. My one from the U of M is a much more comfortable fit.

Dawes Potter (B.A. ’42) Briarcliff Manor, New York

Greek History Lesson

I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The article Greek Revival [Fall 2014] states that the historically African American Greek organizations have only been active at the University in the last 30 years.

According to the Mu Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s website: “Alpha Kappa Alpha’s presence in the Twin Cites began with that of the Eta Chapter. During the spring of 1921, a small group of young women at the University of Minnesota dreamed of having a sorority. Thus, Eta chapter was charted on December 12, 1922 at University of Minnesota-St. Paul. Throughout the years, the ladies remained diligent and loyal to the goals of Alpha Kappa Alpha. During the 1960s, calls for equality and change over swept the United States and membership in Eta dwindled. Unfortunately, Eta Chapter was dissolved August 1964 due to the insufficient number of members within the chapter. Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, had the honor of introducing Eta on its campus on January 11, 1969 and Eta Chapter has been active in the North Atlantic Region since re-emerging there. Alpha Kappa Alpha returned to the Twin Cities on March 25, 1979. The Mu Rho chapter was charted on this marvelous day by 24 dazzling ladies.”

This is a wonderful issue of the magazine. Congratulations.

Josephine Reed-Taylor (M.A. ’74, Ed.D. ’98) Atlanta, Georgia

More on Climate Change

Several letters accept that climate change is happening, but not that humans are responsible [Fall 2014]. Physics make it absolutely certain that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere warms our climate. And it is absolutely certain that human activities are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. What is not certain is how much warming will happen. There are many, many effects to take into account. But the basic physics is not so complicated: Earth must radiate back into space the amount of energy it receives from the sun. If it radiates more, Earth will cool, and vice versa. Carbon dioxide reduces the amount of energy the earth radiates and so the earth must warm to radiate more.

The United Nations and World Bank estimate world consumption of oil, coal, natural gas, and wood at 1.89 tonnes of carbon per person, or 13.2 billion tonnes for a population of 7 billion. [A metric tonne is equivalent to 1.10 U.S. ton.] Each tonne adds about 3.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or 40 billion tonnes per year. The annual increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii amounts to about 19 billion tonnes. Though humans add about 40 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere each year by burning carbon, the measured increase in parts per million is only about 19 billion tonnes per year. This makes it certain that human activities are responsible for the increase of carbon.

But what happens to the rest? We think it is dissolved in the oceans. Eventually the oceans will reach their limit and the climate will warm faster. Meanwhile, the carbon makes the oceans more acid, and it seems that this will affect shellfish, preventing the chemical reaction they use to make their shells. A lot of humans depend on them for food. This may be more important than warming.

Paul J. Kellogg Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Minnesota

Some letters display a sad misunderstanding of science that is widespread in our country [Summer 2014]. More than any other distressing social mistrust—racial bigotry, political hatred, economic selfishness—the ignorance about and mistrust of science weakens our democracy and promotes the spread of an oppressive national ennui. At its core, the scientific method demands that data gathered by observation be studied by experimentation, results being verified by repetition and variation. Data gathered from multiple laboratories are facts true to the methods used; hypothetical explanations for these data require serious consideration and invite discussions from any and all with keen knowledge on the subject. Eventually, a compelling mass of data gives rise to the most probable explanation of the phenomenon, a theory. A theory is hardly the gossamer fantasy, scorned by those who express opinions stemming from political, personal, or economic bias, though such views have their place. They suggest that scientists must do more than the solitary heavy lifting they already perform. They must also educate the public, with clarity and passion, to accept and understand the knowledge that the scientific method provides for the benefit of all.

Robert M. Twedt (B.S. ’45) Frankfort, Kentucky

Corrections

The article Greek Revival [Fall 2014] references Delta Sigma Beta as Danita Brown Young’s sorority affiliation. Dr. Young is affiliated with Delta Sigma Theta. The editors regret the error.

Kimara Glaser Gustafson was incorrectly identified as Kimara Mooty in the Fall issue. The editors regret the error.

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MINNESOTA ALUMNI MAGAZINE, Winter2015

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