The 3-day 2011 Stephen H. Schneider Symposium, held at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder CO, was a huge
The primary aims of the Symposium were: 1) To pay tribute to Steve
Schneider's contributions to climate science*, and to evaluate the
historical significance of these contributions; 2) To identify key
challenges for the future - in climate science, climate science
and policy, and climate science communication - and possible ways
to address these challenges.
The Symposium was structured in two parts: the first part addressed
Steve Schneider's contributions in specific areas of climate science,
such as cloud and aerosol effects on climate, the role of the ocean
in climate change, the "nuclear winter" issue, the impacts
of human-induced climate change on ecosystems, and the economic
aspects of climate change. The second part of the Symposium examined
how these individual pieces of the climate change puzzle fit together,
and explored broad, interdisciplinary themes that were of interest
to Steve. Examples of such interdisciplinary themes include decision-making
in the face of scientific uncertainty, strategies for improving
the communication of climate science, Steve Schneider's contributions
to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and innovative
ways of improving the science-policy interface.
This Symposium was more than a celebration of the scientific accomplishments
of Steve Schneider: Our intent was to bring together many members
of the diverse set of men and women whose lives intersected with
Steve's - fellow scientists, science communicators, policymakers,
students, and friends - and harness the intellectual and creative
energy in this group. We are assured that the Symposium participants
are and will make significant progress on some of the issues Steve
Schneider cared about with new resolve which is the best-possible
tribute to Steve.
Over his lifetime, Steve Schneider inspired generations of students.
This Symposium gave participants a better sense of who Steve was
and what he achieved, including his effectiveness as a teacher and
mentor of his students who were well represented among the speakers.
By all accounts, the resulting inspiration from the symposium cut
two ways: the "next generation" of climate scientists
who attended were inspired by Steve’s work and by the chance
to meet with other more senior participants and the more senior
members of the group were inspired by the quality and character
of the younger scientists.
Also, we are very happy that not only were people able to participate
in the symposium in person, but that a large web audience was able
to “attend” virtually via live webcast. For those who
missed it, the complete archived webcast and speakers slides are
available here so that we can continue to learn from this seminal
event. The symposium was an over-whelming success, and the ideas
generated as well as the new and deepened relationships that resulted
will certainly bear fruit as we go forward: As the motto of the
symposium says so clearly: now it’s up to us.
With best regards,
Terry Root, Linda Mearns, Ben Santer, Chris Still, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele
*Stephen Henry Schneider was a leader in science communication and a world expert on interdisciplinary climate science. At the time of his death on July 19, 2010, he was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University. This website, www.climatechange.net, provides an overview of his work.