He was a lead author of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. He and his wife and collaborator, Terry Root, won the 2003 National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation.
Schneider had been a consultant on climate change to the White House under presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In recent writings, speeches and interviews, he acknowledged the fierceness of the debate over climate change and environmental policies. He recently had become a vocal advocate for scientists becoming more assertive in voicing their conclusions in a ways that would be clear to the public and political and governmental leaders worldwide.
The title of his last book encapsulated the struggle over climate change: "Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate."
He earlier had chronicled his personal battle with lymphoma in a book, "Patient from Hell."
He has been dubbed "the climate warrior." His interest in climate change materialized early on his career. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and plasma physics from Columbia University in 1971, and by 1975 he had founded the journal, Climatic Change.
He joined the Stanford faculty in 1992 as part of the Woods Institute for the Environment — the same year he won a prestigious MacArthur Foundation $500,000 "genius grant" fellowship. He was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in Stanford's Department of Biology, and was a senior fellow at the Woods Institute.
Schneider has been a frequent target of climate-change doubters, some of whom have cited his early predictions that particulates or aerosols in the atmosphere could trigger a new cold spell or even ice age by blocking sunlight. But he soon shifted his conclusions based on research that showed a rapid buildup of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" that could cause the global atmosphere to warm.
The warming would cause ice caps and glaciers to melt, and cause havoc worldwide due to rising sea levels and more volatile weather patterns.
An article quoting Stephen Schneider at length is in a recent issue of Stanford Magazine, online at: www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2010/julaug/features/schneider.html .
In the extended Q&A interview, Schneider speaks of a range of critics, from scientists raising questions to those he feels are funded by industries that would be impacted by effective action to curtail climate change. At the far extreme are hate groups that have made personal threats, while most of the hate mail he gets is just "ugly," he said.
But he expressed a basic optimism despite the battles, the delays, the disappointments:
"I really trust this generation of kids to make a difference. I know we can invent our way out of some of the problem.
"We have to get to them to create a tipping point for a majority. And that can be done. "
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