As an ardent environmentalist, I try to educate myself as much as possible on issues related to global warming. Traveling to Raleigh to hear Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The New Yorker‘s three-part series “The Climate of Man,” speak, however, turned out to be more inconvenient than informative.

Kolbert’s lecture kicked off N.C. State’s week-long symposium entitled “The Rolf Buchdahl Lecture on Science, Technology, and Values.” While I have never felt the desire to visit the N.C. State campus, I banded together with fellow UNC environmentalists to hear what was sure to be an enlightening presentation on global warming.

I could not have been more disappointed.

Kolbert — no relation to Stephen Colbert since they spell their names differently — began her talk candidly: “I don’t believe I need to convince anyone here that global warming exists or that it is a real and present danger.”

This statement turned out to be the most optimistic one she made all night. For the next hour and a half, I listened to an array of daunting numbers and figures related to the rapid climate change of our planet. While Kolbert’s facts are indeed crucial evidence to the damaging effects of global warming, I and much of the audience had heard them all before — in Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

From records of the isotopic composition of ice, to the increase in CO2 levels, to the phenomenon of melting permafrost and drunken forests in the Arctic, all of Kolbert’s major points were the exact same as those made in Gore’s film. She even showed the same graphs and pictures.

One of my UNC comrades, freshman Bryce Koukopoulos, held similar sentiments. “I don’t feel like I learned anything new,” she said. “It just reinforced everything they said in ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’”

Kolbert’s nihilistic comments were the only original components of her talk. “Even if we maintain our current greenhouse gas emissions, the earth will continue to heat up,” she said. “So if we continue to increase our emissions each year, the earth will just heat up that much faster.”

Throughout her speech, Kolbert specifically addressed the students of the audience. In her apocalyptic tone, she informed us that our future is bleak, to say the least. “We are headed toward a different planet,” she said. “Once global warming gets going, it is extremely difficult to stop.”

Kolbert ended her fatalistic address on perhaps the most encouraging note of all, “There is no uncertainty that global warming is happening. The only uncertainty is whether or not we have a chance for survival.”

Thank you, Mrs. Kolbert. Now please excuse me while I go give up all hope.

– Mary Lide Parker