Too Green — and Not Green Enough
It was disheartening to read "Purple Goes Green" [winter 2007] about climate change. That an institution renowned for its journalism school could produce such a biased article is truly reprehensible.
Despite Al Gore's protestations, belief in man-made global warming is far from being a consensus in the scientific community. In fact, John Christy, one of Gore's fellow recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize this year, recently wrote several commentaries (most notably in the Wall Street Journal) disputing man-made global warming science.
It would be encouraging if Northwestern magazine would take a more balanced look at this topic, rather than assuming that global warming is absolutely the result of mankind's actions.
High-efficiency bulbs like the one on your cover do use less energy than regular filament bulbs and, thus, cause lesser amounts of greenhouse gases to be generated when the electricity is generated from fossil fuels. However, the bulbs contain mercury, one of the most toxic materials. If the bulbs are merely thrown away, as I expect most will be, the mercury will be released into the environment. Are we trading one environmental problem for another?
I work for an environmental company that is trying to remove mercury from flue gases released by power plants and industrial applications. If we do our job well, we and others can reduce the mercury emissions in the United States from these sources. This will assist millions in living a better life.
Will our work be destroyed by the replacement of the mercury from another source? We should rid our system from mercury use in all but the most critical and controlled environments.
Ronald Landreth (WCAS71)
Your green issue omitted a big contributor in the environmental field — David Marshall (McC72). He's senior counsel for the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force and is the group's contributor to the United Nation's International Maritime Organization's project on air emissions from international ships.
Last fall the task force generated a lot of news when it issued a large report on the extraordinary number of deaths annually due to underregulated diesel-powered vessels' emissions.
I'm providing this information on good authority. I'm his spouse.
Connie Rakowsky (WCAS74)
You've given only one side of the story on the horrors of global warming and what Northwestern is doing about it. However, one of the best things I learned at Northwestern was not to believe everything you hear until you've looked at both sides of the issue.
Many of us have done just that and have come to the conclusion that we do not have enough information to blame so-called global warming on human activities.
Sure, it's always a good idea to conserve and not be wasteful, but to use scare tactics and lay guilt trips on people when all the facts aren't in is just not the right thing to do.
B. Thomas Smith (CB71)
The cover article by Sean Hargadon was a pleasure to read. One thing I missed in his article was a comment concerning climate change and the warming and cooling effects on the Earth by the sun versus the effects caused by mankind. A measure (degrees or temperature range) of the sun's effect versus mankind's would be helpful.
It is my understanding that in the mid-1970s, there seemed to be a relative cooling of the sun. Was that a big deal or a so-what effect?
Thank you again for such an interesting publication.
Henry L. Sanderson (GMcC59)
While I applaud Northwestern's effort to conserve energy, usage of the light bulb pictured on the winter 2007 cover of Northwestern magazine may cause more harm than good. These light bulbs contain mercury, which is considered an environmental hazard. I do not wish to see Northwestern become a toxic waste dump.
Jeff Stiegler (KSM78)
Paso Robles, Calif.
I'm looking forward to another article on alumni who are working to understand the effects of water vapor in our atmosphere and how to adjust to a warmer global climate. After all, water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, and global climate change is inevitable with or without anthropogenic greenhouse gases. To quote John Huston in his sidebar article, "the lesson learned from these explorers — namely that success comes not from attempting to conquer nature but from adapting to it — is perhaps most applicable to our environmental problems today."
Chris Durel (McC85)
I received two glossy publications from Northwestern the other day, Northwestern magazine and Dialogue, both beautifully, expensively done. "Purple Goes Green" on the front cover prompted me to look for the recycled paper information, which I could not find. Please clarify.
Joyce Cohn Thorn (C59)
Remembering Dick Leopold
Steven Harper's "Sundays with Dick" [winter 2007] brought back happy memories of Richard Leopold.
He literally saved my career as an academic historian. After a terrible experience with another, much younger, professor in the history department soon after entering the PhD program in 1966, I thought my dream of becoming a college teacher and scholar was over. This individual wanted me to approach the study of history with the same ideologically driven perspective he possessed, and when I resisted, he disheartened me by suggesting that I quit the program and find something else to do with my life.
Then I took Leopold's class in American diplomatic history in Harris Hall Room 108, and everything turned around. He seemed to take a personal interest in what I thought and had to say without pushing any particular ideological agenda. He became, and remains, a model for me of what a college history teacher and scholar should be: an individual who possesses a passion for history that he or she can share with students, turning them on to the subject and their potential for expanding knowledge in the field.
After receiving my PhD I taught at two universities and published a number of scholarly articles and three books. None of this would have been possible if I hadn't taken Leopold's class in the nick of time.
John F. Reiger (G70)
I graduated from Northwestern in 1986 and later became a lawyer. Professor Leopold and I got to know each other when I was working at the front desk at University Library in 1984, when he still had an office in the basement of Deering Library.
We became friends during my last two years in college and usually had dinner together about once a month. He gave me advice, usually unsolicited and always very interesting and much appreciated. I remember he said once that he thought too many smart, good people went to law school. He had nothing against lawyers, he just thought there were many other great things to do, especially teaching.
I was quite lucky to be befriended by a great professor.
John S. Phillips (WCAS86)
You cannot imagine how much it meant to read Steven Harper's profile of Dick Leopold. I was a PhD student in history from September 1967 until December 1970. During that time Leopold was chair of the history department and also faculty adviser to the University's Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program. It just so happened that I was one of the more radical graduate students on campus and spent most of my time recruiting other students and faculty to participate in the endless series of teach-ins as well as in the 1968 demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
So, you might imagine that I was on the opposite side of the fence from Leopold. But the truth is that I really wasn't because he was a man of absolute integrity, genuinely honest and decent, and no matter how much we differed politically, I always held him in the highest esteem and respect. And so did everyone else.
Michael R. Weisser (G72)
I thoroughly relished Steven Harper's story. As a transfer to Northwestern after my sophomore year, I found in Professor Leopold everything I had anticipated in the school. His diplomatic history of the United States seminar was one of my most special experiences in Evanston.
My wife asked me what made Leopold so special, and I found it hard to grasp the most appropriate laudatory adjectives. He was, in addition to being exceptionally brilliant, I think, one of the most precise teachers I ever had, and I never felt that anything he said was tossed off without meaning. He made all the students in the room — average to very bright — want to show him that they were giving their best, even if he set standards that were often very hard for young minds to meet. Most of all, he listened to all of us and made us believe what we thought did matter. Many years later upon his retirement, when I was long gone from Evanston, I wrote him an affectionate letter of thanks. Not at all to my surprise, he remembered me. I don't think many academicians are irreplaceable, but Leopold came pretty darned close.
Al Harazin (WCAS64)
Not Built on a Whim
I'd like to clarify the statement that Richard Weir had built a prosthetic humeral rotator "on a whim" ["To Arms," winter 2007]. Actually, Weir built the rotator with a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers grant to our laboratory. We developed several prototype mechanical and electromechanical rotators, of which Weir's is one. Although not built on a whim, the design is inspired because it used a drive mechanism already in use in a commercial electric elbow. By building on something already in production, Weir hoped the humeral rotator could more easily be transferred to commercial application — something that may yet happen.
I'd also like to comment on the characterization of Jesse Sullivan's prosthesis as "the world's first 'bionic arm.'" Inasmuch as "bionic" means designed in the manner of something living, all contemporary prostheses could be said to be bionic in one way or another. That is not to say that Todd Kuiken's development of targeted reinnervation does not have significant potential for improving prosthetic arms. It's that the importance of this research may, in my opinion, be diminished or made indistinct by its inclusion among other "bionic firsts."
Northwestern University has a long history of research to improve prosthetic limbs, dating from the closing years of World War II. I appreciate your effort to bring these recent developments to readers of Northwestern magazine.
Craig W. Heckathorne (GMcC78)
Northwestern University Prosthetics Research Laboratory and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Program
Senior Watch Worthwhile
It was a surprise and an honor when Northwestern magazine included me in the "Senior Watch" feature story [summer 2007].
A few days after the issue came out I received an e-mail from Marcus Brown (C03), the programming director of 560 AM WIND, a news and talk radio station in Chicago. He had spotted the story and contacted me about my plans for the future.
I am now working for Brown at the station. In January I started producing the Sandy Rios Show for WYLL-AM on weekday afternoons, and I now host my own political commentary program on WIND-AM on Sunday nights. All are welcome to tune in, of course!
I'd like to thank Northwestern magazine for including me. Its decision to mention me played a crucial role in helping me land that always-elusive first job.
Guy Benson (J07)
News on Campus
Thank you and other contributors for the excellent publication Northwestern. In the News on Campus section of the winter 2007 issue I noticed the small article by Asa Church on "Preparing for the Inevitable."
I attended the Evening Divisions [now the School of Continuing Studies] and received a bachelor's degree in personnel. Now as a person with no close or nearby family, I need to "prepare for the inevitable."
I am interested in the booklet Facts About Me by Alex Kohlmann and Mark Hammervold and would appreciate it if you can refer my letter to them or if you can advise me how to obtain a copy of the booklet. Thank you very much.
Frances A. Keen (SCS67)
Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Editor's Note: Please visit www.factsaboutme.com for more information on the booklet.
It was very disappointing to see it unequivocally stated in the winter 2007 issue ["New Class Rises to Top"] that there are four pre-Wildcat Welcome programs. The article failed to mention Freshman Fest, an overnight retreat for incoming Jewish students. More than 80 students participated in activities this year, led by upperclassmen and sponsored by the Fiedler Hillel Center. This memorable introduction to the University and Jewish community at Northwestern should not be ignored.
Shari Weiss (J09)
School of Continuing Studies
What an incredible and comprehensive article on the breadth and depth of School of Continuing Studies programs ["Dream Big," fall 2007]! I was impressed, learned many new things and enjoyed reading about the success of this school. Having been associated with SCS for three years now, I am proud and pleased to call SCS "home" as an adjunct instructor in organizational behavior. I am sharing this article with all of my corporate clients as well.
Kathy A. Nielsen
Buffalo Grove, Ill.
In the obituary for William J. Sonzski Jr. (WCAS59) [In Memoriam, Alumni News, winter 2007], we incorrectly listed his wife's name. His widow's name is Marguerite Smit.