Carnegie scientists Chris Field and Ken Caldeira of the Department of Global Ecology are key contributors in the UN panel awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on October 12 for work on global climate change.  The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shares the prize with former vice president Al Gore for his role in communicating the issue to the public.

 

Following a press conference about the prize with Gore in Palo Alto, California, Field said: “It’s fantastic to have the Nobel Committee recognize the importance of the climate issue, and it’s important that the Nobel committee recognizes that effective action requires a partnership between a great communicator like Al Gore and the scientific community that provides the information that we need to move ahead.”

 

Field was a coordinating lead author of the chapter on North America in the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability to climate change.  The report observed that while North America has considerable capacity for adaptation,‘[m]ainstreaming’climate change issues into decision making is a key prerequisite for sustainability.”

 

Caldeira was a contributing author for the 2001 IPCC assessment report and a coordinating lead author of a chapter on ocean storage of carbon in the 2005 Special Report on “Carbon Capture and Storage.” The report found that “deep ocean storage could help reduce the impact of CO2 emissions on surface ocean biology but at the expense of effects on deep-ocean biology.”

 

Field and Caldeira are major figures among the roughly 2,000 scientists from more that 100 countries that have contributed to IPCC reports as authors or reviewers over the past two decades.  They have strengthened the scientific consensus regarding climate change and its connection with human activities.  According to the press release from the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the Peace Prize, because climate change “may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind . . . [t]here may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.”  The scientists merit the Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"

 

The Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, founded in 2002 on the campus of Stanford University, conducts basic research on the interactions among the earth's ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans. The goal of this research is to understand the ways these interactions shape the behavior of the earth system, including its responses to future changes.

 

Photo: Chris Field (far right) with Al Gore at press conference. (Credit: Peter DaSilva/The New York Times/Redux.)