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A Well Deserved Honor

Filed under: — group @ 18 October 2011

The rest of us here would like to congratulate Gavin on a well-deserved honor. He is the recipient of the inaugural AGU Climate Communication Prize. Since co-founding RealClimate back in 2004, Gavin has emerged as the de facto leader of RealClimate, having written the majority of our posts–and many of our best ones. One of his very first contributions “Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion” remains one of our most highly cited posts. One of his most recent, about what the recent CERN experiments do (and don’t) tell us about cloud processes, is a good example of his characteristic knack for explaining complex scientific issues with clarity and wit. Gavin also takes the lead role in dealing with the comments on RC posts. His almost non-stop, patient, response to the flood of comments that ensued in the week following the CRU email server hack in late 2009 impressed us all.

Gavin’s communication efforts, of course, go well beyond RealClimate. He is frequently quoted in mainstream news venues and often appears on radio and television news programs, to help communicate key aspects of climate science to the public. Here he is in an interview articulating both the science and the history of the science, and putting the recent politicizing of climate science into context. (It’s worth watching this interview to the end, by the way, for some thoughts on what you can do to improve communication of climate science.) He’s also produced a very accessible and beautiful book, Climate Change: Picturing the Science (with photographer Josh Wolfe).

Gavin’s efforts go well beyond the classic ‘public understanding of science’, since what he so successfully promotes is the ‘public understanding of research’. He makes it understandable and tangible how scientists work and think, not just what their results are. Gavin is a champion of easy access to data: see our Realclimate section on data sources. And, of course, a champion of making good use of the available data: see his many articles where he explains how particular questions (such as whether climate models agree with data) should not be speculated about but can be answered by anyone with basic skills simply by using publicly available data archives. Gavin’s work is often about empowering people to draw their own conclusions.

All of this is based on a solid foundation of his own scientific research: Gavin is a top-notch climatologist with an excellent publication record (h-index: 33), and we and our colleagues refer frequently to Gavin’s numerous papers in our own research and teaching. We only sometimes wonder whether his days have 30 hours, or how he finds the time to achieve all this.

Of course we’re a bit biased here at RealClimate, but it is truly hard to imagine a more deserving recipient for this award than Gavin.

Congratulations, once again, to our colleague and friend.

Mike Mann, Eric Steig, Stefan Rahmstorf, Jim Bouldin, Ray Pierrehumbert, David Archer, and the rest of RealClimate

167 Responses to “A Well Deserved Honor”

  1. 51
    Marco says:

    Not being much of a singer, I’ll join the chorus but mime the words
    “congratulations, Gavin!”

    Keep up the good work.

  2. 52
    Ike Solem says:

    Congratulations – but as far as effective action to mitigate the buildup of fossil-fuel sourced gases in the atmosphere, it’s been a complete failure so far, hasn’t it? All academic awards aside, that’s what you find if you sample the atmosphere. Hardly reason for celebration, I’d say. Many of the putative solutions being promoted by government academics, from cap-and-trade to “clean coal carbon capture” consist of little more than fraudulent disinformation tactics aimed at continuing business-as-usual. Without an aggressive roadmap for the complete replacement of fossil fuels with renewables, nothing will change, will it?

  3. 53
    Nick Stokes says:

    Congratulations, Gavin
    I think you have done a very valuable job with great skill and aplomb.

  4. 54
    J Bowers says:

    Well done Gavin, very much deserved. Will you be treating the AGU captive audience to a bit of nifty juggling? What an opportunity.

  5. 55
    Craig Nazor says:

    This is one of my favorite web sites, and it never fails to excite my interest in a very complicated field of study. Congratulations to Gavin on a well-deserved reward, and a thank you to all of the rest of the RealClimate authors and scientists who add tremendous depth to the articles and the discussions.

    I am very politically active on this issue. At this point, I have sat through hundreds of hours of public hearings at the local, state, and federal level. Having this resource helps to add the power of scientific truth to my public statements, and helps keep me inspired to do more. RealClimate is making a real difference!

  6. 56
    CM says:

    +1! Congratulations, and thanks.

  7. 57
    frflyer says:

    Congradulations to Gavin
    Thank you and thank all the other, who post and comment here, for teachning me so much.

  8. 58
    Hunt Janin says:

    If Gavin will give me two or three sentences authoritively explaining the relationship between sea level rise and storm surges, I shall raise another altar in his honor.

  9. 59
    John Little (Cambridge UK) says:

    Great work. Please keep it up:-)

  10. 60
    Nick Barnes says:

    Congratulations to Gavin. I’ve been reading RealClimate since the first post, and his expertise, hard work, and patience are exemplary. Both this award and last month’s to John Cook remind us just how high the bar is for excellence in climate science communication.

  11. 61
    Louise Doughty says:

    Well done Gavin. I’ve learnt such a lot from this site, even if I don’t always understand all of it. It’s a really valuable source of real information and science. A really big thank you to you, and ‘the team’ for all your hard work.

  12. 62
    johnmac says:

    Congratulations, Gavin. Your efforts here are much appreciated by this non-scientist. I was hugely impressed at how you handled the CRU dramas, and your clear, calm posts and comments and on Real Climate are of great value. Many thanks!

  13. 63

    You are doing a very important job. Well deserved!

  14. 64
    Dikran Marsupial says:

    Congratulations Gavin, well deserved indeed! I hope the other regular contributors to RealClimate appear on the list of winners of this prize in years to come, as it would be well deserved for them as well!

  15. 65
    Mikel says:

    Many congratulations. Like the site so much, I bought the book.

  16. 66
    Anteros says:

    Congratulations – from a thorough-going sceptic. I disagree with a lot of your conclusions but greatly admire your work.

  17. 67
    P. Lewis says:

    I see that the “worldwide conspiracy” amongst scientists continues then.

    How can Dr Schmidt have been awarded such an accolade when “everyone’s favourite weatherman”, who fronts what idiots Bloggies voted “Best Science Blog” in 2011, doesn’t get a mention in dispatches? The said weatherman’s arguments and articles have done more to convince me of the truth that is AGW than any other communicator.

    … which is a roundabout way of saying what a well-deserved recognition this is from the non-potty peers.

  18. 68
    Anne-Marie Blackburn says:

    Adding my congratulations – a thoroughly deserved prize for a great communicator. Keep the good work up!

  19. 69
    Anand says:

    So, for publishing material in support of scientific orthodoxy rather than asking questions, and for controlling the flow of comments, by deleting, delaying and ‘moderating’ the conversation, Gavin Schmidt gets an award? Well, congratulations indeed.

    I remember; what ought to have been a simple exchange dragged on for weeks because the moderator would release my replies slowly. Those who were interested in answering/responding, simply dropped away. Who could blame them! We are told that the award is for ‘communication’.

    I doubt that anyone can lay a finger on Dr Schmidt’s scientific abilities. But good science does not translate to a good strategy for communication. I am thinking of the number of bloggers and commenters whose words were trampled upon, and what they think of Realclimate (and by extension, Gavin Schmidt). Just as in science, as a blogger, credibility is what you have with your peers, and not the accolades showered by people who don’t know how the climate debate is made to work here. I think we know what people think of Realclimate in this respect.

    [Response: Nobody’s against you Anand. I’m always willing to take your questions, within the constraints of time available. You have had some good ones.–Jim]

  20. 70
    Paul A says:

    Congratulation Gavin – thoroughly deserved. In the wake of the CRU email hack I found your posts the most authoritative and insightful commentary available. You helped me and no doubt many others make sense of what was really going on at that time. For that you have my personal and heartfelt gratitude.

  21. 71
    Sou says:

    Congratulations Gavin – you are a legend. And a huge thank you for teaching us so much so clearly – and with seemingly endless patience.

  22. 72
    Mr. N says:

    Congrats to you Gavin and to the entire RC team. You truly are a beacon of light.

    All the best…

  23. 73

    Well, I’m way too late to be ‘seconding’ this post, but FWIW, I’m in full agreement.

    Thanks, Gavin!

    (And, while in thanking mode, thanks to the rest of the RC team as well. Most admirable, all!)

  24. 74
    Scrooge says:

    RC has helped in more ways than they can ever realize. Keep up the good work.

  25. 75
    dhogaza says:


    I think we know what people think of Realclimate in this respect.

    Yes, some of us think that Realclimate has let us down by not boreholing your post.

    So, for publishing material in support of scientific orthodoxy rather than asking questions

    Oh, yeah, just what we need, another blog with endless streams of people claiming that everything we know about physics is wrong, typed on computers that only work because everything we know about physics is mostly correct (though in some areas incomplete).

    Congratulations, Gavin, on your well-deserved reward and … don’t lose the “moderate” key on your keyboard!

  26. 76
    Ron Taylor says:

    Heartfelt congratulations, Gavin. The award is highly merited, but even it cannot begin to match the importance of your contributions to the intelligent discussion of climate science. In particular, your patience, consistency and endurance in the face of the email flap was truly inspirational and, I suspect, was enormously encouraging to climate scientists who were under direct attack.

  27. 77
    WheelsOC says:

    Even if Gavin retired from blogging today, he’d be leaving behind an enormous trove of invaluable posts describing what the science says AND how the science works, which would all be useful for years to come. I only hope Schmidt and the rest of the Real Climate crew keep at it the way they’ve been doing it.

    Thanks for making it so accessible; you deserve this award.

  28. 78

    From personal experience, I prize Gavin’s patience dealing with dumbos. It takes something well beyond being wrong, even hilariously so, to get him upset.

  29. 79
    Lionel A says:

    Well done and richly deserved indeed.

    Being a retired engineer (aviation) I shake my head when I see comments on the blogosphere from other engineers criticizing this place for its distortions of fact. It is the only defence they can muster when confronted by your superb take down of Crichton’s distortions for example, that piece is like a red rag to a bull. I have learned much, and continue to learn, from reading comment threads and studying the literature published by yourself and your colleagues. Thank you.

    Being an engineer and not an active climate scientist I don’t tend to post here but I consider your efforts invaluable in our battle to obtain a viable future for our children and grandchildren.

  30. 80
    ocasapiens says:


    “it is truly hard to imagine a more deserving recipient for this award than Gavin”
    You are not bad either.

    “Gavin’s patience dealing with dumbos”
    I hope it’s mentioned in the motivation, together with the sense of humour

  31. 81
    Mal Adapted says:

    Thank you, Gavin, for your potent and tireless defense of truth. Without you, the world would surely be doomed to climate catastrophe.

  32. 82
    MarkB says:

    Congratulations, Gavin! This award is well-deserved! Communication with the public is usually not rewarded, and sometimes discouraged. Although I don’t comment that often here, I read this blog regularly, and Gavin’s contributions over the years have been free education for me.

  33. 83
    L Hamilton says:

    Gavin certainly deserves the award, and thanks from the scientific community for doing an important job well.

  34. 84
    CM says:

    As Sting sings of another Englishman in New York, “It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile.”

  35. 85
    John says:

    Many congratulations Gavin, Well deserved. I had hoped to email you personally but I couldn’t find an email from you at this time.

  36. 86
    Laurie Dougherty says:

    Congratulations to Gavin and Real Climate. A well-deserved honor. Like so many others, I come to Real Climate to learn and even though much goes over my head, I am always rewarded with some measure of greater understanding. Thank you.

  37. 87
    Septic Matthew says:

    69, Anand: So, for publishing material in support of scientific orthodoxy rather than asking questions, and for controlling the flow of comments, by deleting, delaying and ‘moderating’ the conversation, Gavin Schmidt gets an award?

    Yes! This is a very well run site!

    I am disappointed that a few of my posts were deleted or boreholed, but that’s no more important than stubbing my toe while hiking in the forest.

  38. 88
    Marcus says:

    I particularly like Gavins inline comments starting with “Oh, please.” :o)
    Congratulations for the awesome work and this site, which has become a daly visit for me and clearly helps to develop understanding of climate issues, and simply stay up to date.

    Heartly congratulations,

  39. 89
    Daniel J. Andrews says:

    More congratulations. I was left in awe after the climategate episode when day after day I dropped by to read comments and there was Gavin, patiently answering questions, over and over again. I copied many of his answers and links to a Word file so I could review them in preparation for the inevitable questions I would be asked about it. Thank you very much, not just for the work you did, but for making me look like I actually knew something. :-)

  40. 90
    Christoffer Bugge Harder says:

    Gavin Schmidt´s communicative talents would be second to none by any standard and in any discipline, but in a politically infected field as climate science, there are no other so active, so insightful, so honest and so (sometimes undeservedly) polite and patient communicators. Congratulations from one of many JALFs (Just Another Lifetime Fan)!

  41. 91

    Re #69, Ya know, Anand, the orthodoxy is all on your part — same boring denialist blather. Just take your head out of [the sand] and every month you’ll find something new here at RC and, occasionally, something astonishing.

    Adding my thanks to Gavin and all on RC for disseminating serious science to us laypersons.

  42. 92
    barry says:

    Thoroughly well-deserved! Congratulations Gavin Schmidt, and heartfelt thanks for your consistent clarity and good humour.

  43. 93
    Eli Rabett says:

    Hear! Hear!

    [Response: Um, Eli, didn’t you mean “Hare, Hare?”]

  44. 94
    sydb says:

    Congratulations. When the shameful history of our times is written, there will be shining examples of those who fearlessly told the truth.

  45. 95
    grithr says:

    Excellent. Congratulations to Gavin and the entire site.

  46. 96
    Publicola says:

    As someone who refers to RealClimate regularly for information with respect to combating climate science denial on the internet (mostly at Huffington Post and I too wish to congratulate Gavin Schmidt.

    Also thank you Gavin and the rest of you at RealClimate – your contributions are invaluable.

    (As are your contributions and thank you too, Eli Rabett. And also to Tamino, Tim Lambert, Deep Climate, John Cook and the others at Skeptical Science, and many others whose names escape me at the moment.)

  47. 97
    ked says:

    (Long-time listener, first-time commenter here)

    I am a scientist/teacher, and admittedly less of the former and more of the latter as time whizzes by. I just want to say that Gavin and the Real Climate crew make me proud of science and proud to be a scientist, of any stripe. Congratulations and thank you.

  48. 98
    Ray Ladbury says:

    One of the most important aspects in communicating any science to the public is maintaining a high level of signal to noise. I am afraid that many of your posts run toward the noise end of the spectrum. Gavin has been astoundingly tolerant of dissent, allowing personal attacks against his competence and even his honor. Most would have boreholed a much higher proportion of the denialist comments.

    Understand this. There are no two sides in this debate. It is science. There are scientists and there are pudknockers, and there are those of us who watch the show and try to learn. You would do well to decide which camp you want to be in. Hint: you can only choose between the latter two.

    Now pull the stick out and join me in congratulating Gavin on an exceedingly well deserved recognition.

  49. 99
    Radge Havers says:

    Congrats! And thank you!

  50. 100
    Chris Colose says:

    Congrats! Well-deserved!