The physics of climate changeCanada
The Globe and Mail
As a physicist, I know that we physicists sometimes feel we can comment authoritatively on just about any subject, not necessarily in our sub-discipline in physics. Neil Reynolds states in Please Remain Calm. The Earth Will Heal Itself (July 19) that Robert Laughlin is a co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics. That is correct. He received the Nobel Prize, jointly with two others, “for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations.”
I don’t believe a high level of expertise in condensed matter physics, which is Prof. Laughlin’s field, automatically makes him an expert on climate change. Despite that, he is, of course, correct in saying the Earth will survive human damage to the environment. But will humans?
Mass extinctions of species on this planet have happened before and the planet survived. Will Homo sapiens survive the next mass extinction due to climate change? Juris Svenne, senior scholar, physics and astronomy department, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Neil Reynolds’ column on Stanford University physicist Robert Laughlin’s diatribe on the long-term effects of climate change sounds like an ostrich’s response to danger. It is another form of denial: Don’t worry, be happy. This attitude is what got us into this environmental mess in the first place, isn’t it?
Clearly, human beings are a major cause of climate change, and human beings must own up to their role in solving it.
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