R.I.P. John Firor—scientist, author, former director of NCAR

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The New York Times reported on November 12: “John Firor, an environmental scholar and former director of the National Center of Atmospheric Research who was an early voice linking climate change and human activity, died last Monday in Pullman, Wash. He was 80.”

We enjoyed and benefited from the brief opportunity we had, in the 1990s, to meet and talk with Dr. Firor, in Snowmass, Colorado.

Excerpt:

New York Times
November 12, 2007

John Firor, 80, Early Voice on Environment, Is Dead

By ALISON J. PETERSON

John Firor, an environmental scholar and former director of the National Center of Atmospheric Research who was an early voice linking climate change and human activity, died last Monday in Pullman, Wash. He was 80.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said his daughter Susan Firor.

Mr. Firor became director of the center, in Boulder, Colo., in 1968 and was named executive director in 1974. While there, he called attention to the importance of human impact on the environment, when such a connection was still considered a fairly radical idea, said Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research.

In Mr. Firor’s first book, “The Changing Atmosphere: A Global Challenge” (Yale University Press, 1990), he used layman’s language to explain climate change and ozone depletion, among other global concerns. The book was called “about as agreeable as a dose of ipecac,” in a review in The New York Times, for generating “a sense of astonishment that human intelligence could have permitted us to reach this predicament.”

Mr. Firor was also an expert in public-policy issues concerning the atmosphere and environment. He traveled extensively, lecturing to audiences and testifying before Congressional committees about global problems….

Mr. Firor’s first wife, Merle Jenkins Firor, died in 1979. In 1983, he married Judith E. Jacobsen, an expert on global population with whom he wrote “The Crowded Greenhouse: Population, Climate Change, and Creating a Sustainable World.” Ms. Jacobsen died in 2004….

Good article and photos here on Dr. Firor’s retirement from UCAR/NCAR management in 1996.

On The Crowded Greenhouse:

This book focuses on two critical global issues—rapid population growth and a human-induced climate change. John Firor and Judith Jacobsen summarize the current status of these two issues, show how they are related to one another, and prescribe steps that governments, economies, societies, and individuals can adopt to stabilize both population and climate.
Firor and Jacobsen argue that two revolutions are necessary to achieve a stable population and freedom from human-induced climate change: a social revolution that improves equity, particularly the status of women, and a technical revolution that yields vastly greater efficiency in energy and materials use than we have today. They offer a vision that incorporates these changes, and they urge professionals and activists to work to achieve them, even in the face of great odds.

From the Back Cover
“This book is comprehensive and even handed, written with clarity and precision throughout by two skilled professional scholars. I read it with admiration, pleasure and profit.”—George M. Woodwell, director, Woods Hole Research Center

A revolutionary vision of how we can create a sustainable planet.

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