Global warming scientist dies at 87 – Times Union
Photo: Gregorio Borgia
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A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term “global warming” has died. Wallace Smith Broecker was 87.
The longtime Columbia University professor and researcher died Monday at a New York City hospital, according to a spokesman for the university’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Kevin Krajick said Broecker had been ailing in recent months.
Broecker brought “global warming” into common use with a 1975 article that correctly predicted rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to pronounced warming. He later became the first person to recognize what he called the ocean conveyor belt, a global network of currents affecting everything from air temperature to rain patterns.
“Wally was unique, brilliant and combative,” said Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer. “He wasn’t fooled by the cooling of the 1970s. He saw clearly the unprecedented warming now playing out and made his views clear, even when few were willing to listen.”
In 1984, Broecker told a House subcommittee that the buildup of greenhouse gases warranted a “bold, new national effort aimed at understanding the operation of the realms of the atmosphere, oceans, ice and terrestrial biosphere.”
“We live in a climate system that can jump abruptly from one state to another,” Broecker told The Associated Press in 1997. By dumping into the atmosphere huge amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, “we are conducting an experiment that could have devastating effects.”