Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stanford's Nobel-Winning Climate Scientist Stephen Schneider Dies of Apparent Heart Attack as Plane Lands in London

Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford's Nobel-Winning Climate Scientist. [See "The Passing of a Climate Warrior by Andrew Revkin"---NYT (7-19-10)]

Stanford climate scientist and 2007 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Stephen Schneider died of an apparent heart attack yesterday (7-19-10) during a flight from Stockholm to London.

On June 22, 2010, I posted a story related to Dr. Schneider. He was in the news because his name was on an article contributed to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled "Expert Credibility in Climate Change."

Dr. Schneider [Wikipedia] received a collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Vice-President Al Gore for his joint efforts with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The U.K. Guardian (7-5-10) reported:

Climate scientists in the US say police inaction has left them defenceless in the face of a torrent of death threats and hate mail, leaving them fearing for their lives and one to contemplate arming himself with a handgun.

The scientists say the threats have increased since the furore over leaked emails from the University of East Anglia began last November, and a sample of the hate mail sent in recent months and seen by the Guardian reveals the scale and vitriolic tone of the abuse.

The scientists revealed they have been told to "go gargle razor blades" and have been described as "Nazi climate murderers". Some emails have been sent to them without any attempt by the sender to disguise their identity. Even though the scientists have received advice from the FBI, the local police say they are not able to act due to the near-total tolerance of "freedom of speech" in the US.

The problem appears less severe in the UK but, Professor Phil Jones, the UEA scientist at the centre of the hacked email controversy, revealed in February he had been receiving two death threats a week and had contemplated suicide. "People said I should go and kill myself," he said. "They said that they knew where I lived. They were coming from all over the world." The third and final independent review into the issues raised by the hacked UEA emails is due to be published on Wednesday when Sir Muir Russell presents his panel's conclusions.

Professor Stephen Schneider, a climatologist based at Stanford University in California, whose name features in the UEA emails, says he has received "hundreds" of violently abusive emails since last November. The peak came in December during the Copenhagen climate change summit, he said, but the number has picked up again in recent days since he co-authored a scientific paper last month which showed that 97%-98% of climate scientists agree that mankind's carbon emissions are causing global temperatures to increase.

Schneider described his attackers as "cowards" and said he had observed an "immediate, noticeable rise" in emails whenever climate scientists were attacked by prominent right-wing US commentators, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

"[The senders] are not courageous people," said Schneider. "Where are they getting their information from? They just listen to assertions made on blogs and rightwing talkshows. It's pathetic."

Schneider said the FBI had taken an interest earlier this year when his name appeared on a "death list" on a neo-Nazi website alongside other climate scientists with apparent Jewish ancestry. But, to date, no action has been taken.

"The effect on me has been tremendous," said Schneider. "Some of these people are mentally imbalanced. They are invariably gun-toting rightwingers. What do I do? Learn to shoot a Magnum? Wear a bullet-proof jacket? I have now had extra alarms fitted at my home and my address is unlisted. I get scared that we're now in a new Weimar republic where people are prepared to listen to what amounts to Hitlerian lies about climate scientists." [See full text.]

I have noticed that climate scientists and liberal journalists often point out correctly that the "right wing" and Western fossil fuel companies are funding so-called "scientific" institutes and think tanks that attack scientists who study global warming, but Western scientists and liberal journalists rarely seem to wonder how the more hidden political operatives associated with Russian fossil fuel companies such as Gazprom might be attacking scientists who study global warming. The behemoth Gazprom does double-duty as an outpost of Russia's state security apparatus.

RFE/RL (7-9-10) observes:

To conceal its designs, the Kremlin relies on a dizzying web of shell companies nominally owned and operated by Europeans but in reality controlled by Moscow...

Unlike Western firms, which lobby largely in their own interests, Russian state-controlled and private enterprises play an integral role in Kremlin foreign policy.

Surely no Western company would have agreed to lose billions of dollars by cutting off supplies to its customers. That's what Russia's Gazprom did when Moscow twice shut down gas pipelines to Ukraine...

The Stanford Daily (7-19-10) reports:

Biology professor, Woods Institute Senior Fellow and climatologist
Stephen Schneider died today at the age of 65, a New York Times blog reported.

According to his wife, biology professor
Terry Root, Schneider suffered a heart attack as a plane on which he was traveling landed in London. [Apparently en-route from Stockholm.]

Schneider, one of the world’s leading climatologists, long held the opinion that climate change and its many complexities and nuances deserved full attention and swift action.

Schneider was the founder and editor of the journal Climatic Change and authored or co-authored over 450 scientific papers and other publications during a career-long journey to bring attention to climate change. He was also a frequent contributor to popular media on the topic.

Most recently, The Daily briefly covered a study about the expertise levels of scientists weighing in on climate change, co-authored by Schneider. More stories that involve Stephen Schneider can be found here. Stanford Magazine published a feature interview with Schneider in the July-August 2010 issue.

In recent years, Schneider battled with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, eventually publishing a book on his medical journey. Of both cancer and of the climate, he said, “In both cases, there was no room to be wrong.”

The Stanford Daily (7-19-10) also wrote:

Stephen Schneider The Stanford biology professor and climate scientist Stephen Schneider died Monday at age 65 of an apparent heart attack, said his wife, Terry Root, another Stanford biologist. Tributes poured in from around the Web, an early one coming from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times, where the occasion was marked as “the passing of a climate warrior.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, with whom Schneider shared a 2007 Nobel Prize as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, called the scientist “a wonderful communicator” whose contributions “will be sorely missed.” At The Bay Citizen, Gerry Shih ‘09 reported on the personal security measures Schneider and his wife took in the past year under increasing threats from extremists who rejected evidence for human-driven climate change. “He certainly never shied away from the fight with climate deniers,” said Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council in the Mercury News. “I don’t know if he relished it, but he wasn’t willing to cede any ground.” Matt Petersen of Global Green USA said at The Huffington Post that he last saw Schneider with students at the Copenhagen talks this winter. Paul Erlich, the Stanford population biologist, spoke of Schneider working through “absolute misery” during his bout with cancer. John Holdren, science adviser to President Obama, spoke to NPR about Schneider.


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