Losing a climate leader

Written by tim


The world lost an influential and effective communicator and scientist last week when Dr. Stephen Schneider, founder of the scientific journal *Climatic Change* and Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford died of a heart attack while returning from a conference on climate change.

The list of awards, honors, and academic positions that Prof. Schneider held over his life represent the mark of an expert: a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Plasma Physics from Columbia University, postdocs at both NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, lead author (among other titles) for the IPCC since its inception, a MacArthur “Genius” grant, and a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the IPCC.

As many good obituaries have acknowledged, it was his commitment to painting the whole, deeply shaded picture of the science behind global climate change that drew each presidential administration since Richard Nixon to solicit his advice.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to take a class – more like an extended forum – from Prof. Schneider while at Stanford called “Controlling Climate Change in the 21st Century.” More than anything else, I fondly recall Schneider’s ability to hold forth in front of a large group of students with variable levels of knowledge about climate change. His ability to communicate the minutiae of climate science within the context of a regional, national, and international legal framework was astonishing.

My deepest condolences to his wife, Dr. Terry Root, and Prof. Schneider’s family, friends, colleagues, and students. We have a lot to live up to in Steve’s memory.

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