We are sad to announce that Stephen H. Schneider, a Stanford biology professor and leading researcher in climate change, has died. According to the Stanford University News, Schneider was flying from a science meeting in Sweden, to London, when he apparently suffered a heart attack. He was 65.
Described by the New York Times as a "climate warrior," Schneider was influential in the public debate over climate change and was set to publish the Boston Review title, Preparing for Climate Change, with Michael D. Mastrandrea this fall. To celebrate his work, here's a taste from the book:
There is a growing worldwide momentum to address the problem of climate change, one of the widest-reaching challenges modern society has faced. But we did not reach our current level of global concern without bumps and bruises along the way.
The natural greenhouse effect and its intensification by human-induced (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases are well understood and solidly grounded in basic science. This conclusion is a robust finding of the mainstream climate-science community. Yet, despite the preponderance if evidence, a number of interest groups—and some scientists—still do not accept the well-established evidence of the last 40 years of anthropogenic global warming.
Unfortunately, the media often tread these skeptics as credible experts, and they are given equal billing with mainstream scientists. One result is public confusion, which contributes to an already heated dispute. Climate change is not just an area of scientific study, but also a matter of public and political debate. Responding to climate change will fundamentally affect natural systems, energy production, transportation, industry, government policies, development strategies, population-growth planning, distributional equality, and individual freedoms and responsibilities around the world—in short, the well-being of human and ecological systems. Decisions on the scale and timing of climate policy will entail an array of costs and benefits for stakeholder communities with conflicting priorities. Moreover, all of this will play out in a background of varying degrees of knowledge, and thus inherent uncertainties.
Some of these uncertainties can be resolved by normal scientific investigations in the next decade or two. Others are almost guaranteed to remain until long after we are committed to cope with changes that can neither be predicted with high confidence, nor reversed after they are confidently detected. This poses a major challenge for planetary-scale governance of our development pathways.
He will be missed.