The Skywriter

In memory of climate scientist Stephen Schneider


In memory of climate scientist Stephen Schneider


Stephen Schneider died on Monday. Losing Stephen is so hard. He was one of the few climate scientists I could call, ask for guidance, and cry with. He knew as much as anybody about the complex effects of global warming on glaciers, coral reefs, sea level rise and drought. Stephen was one of the world's most influential climate scientists, a Stanford professor, a physicist, and a leader among the scientists whose climate research earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Among his many contributions and achievements, Stephen advised every U.S. President from Nixon to Obama on the threat and potential impact of global warming. He was only 65.

I won't speculate too much, but I can't help but wonder if his heart failed in part because of the distress and frustration he was feeling about the insufficient public understanding and response to the climate threat. Stephen was returning from a conference in Sweden where discussions focused on how to confront the relentless efforts of climate skeptics to confuse and paralyze the public through a pernicious media campaign attacking his credibility and that of hundreds of other renowned climate scientists.

Stephen applauded the launch of 1Sky. He was a member of our scientific advisory board, but more importantly, he cheered all of us on. When I periodically spoke with him, he was uplifted to learn of our efforts to galvanize people in communities across the country. He felt we needed a tenfold increase in our efforts, to counter what he saw as immense greed and corporate influence on Congress.

Stephen never lost the faith that we might yet still turn our nation and world towards a secure and clean energy future. Take a moment. Look up at his face again.

He was a genius, a giant of a scientist, and someone who thought nothing was more important than building a citizens movement to counter the influence of the fossil fuel lobby. For his children, our children and those yet unborn, let's roar together. We know what must be done. We give thanks for a man who gave all that he could give to wake up our political leaders to the grave dangers of climate change and of the urgent need to change our lifestyles, our policies, and our economy as fast as humanly possible.

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