The 3-day 2011 Stephen H. Schneider Symposium, held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder CO, was a huge success.
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 archived webcast and speakers slides will be available here very soon so that we can all 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.