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Watch > Episode > Dr Gavin Schmidt - Global Warming Exposed

Dr Gavin Schmidt - Global Warming Exposed


Gavin Schmidt is a climatologist and Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the world’s top climate research organisations.

He is only the third person to hold this post for NASA, having taken on the role from James Hansen, the “father of climate change awareness”. Gavin’s work focuses on understanding past, present and future climate change and on the development and evaluation of climate models, and he has written over 120 publications that specialise in simulations of the past, present and future.

Scientific American cited him as one of the 50 Research Leaders of 2004, and his 2014 TED talk on climate modelling has been viewed over one million times. While Gavin proposes that climate models are skilful, he advocates that what’s most important is for us to “get off our carbon diet”.

Gavin Schmidt’s journey into climate science began with a strong academic foundation. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Oxford University and pursued a Doctorate in Applied Mathematics at University College London. His early academic pursuits laid the groundwork for the analytical and mathematical approach that would become a hallmark of his contributions to climate science.

Gavin Schmidt’s association with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) commenced in the late 1990s. Over the years, he ascended the ranks, eventually assuming the role of Director in 2014. At GISS, Schmidt has been at the forefront of climate modelling and research, contributing significantly to our understanding of the Earth’s climate and its trajectory under the influence of human activities.

Schmidt’s work in climate modelling has been instrumental in refining predictions and projections related to climate change. His research involves utilising computer models to simulate various climate scenarios, helping scientists and policymakers comprehend the potential impacts of different factors, such as greenhouse gas emissions and natural climate variability.

One notable project Schmidt has been involved in is the development of the GISS ModelE, a comprehensive climate model used for simulating and studying Earth’s climate. These modelling efforts are crucial for anticipating future climate trends, informing policy decisions, and fostering a proactive approach to climate mitigation and adaptation.

Beyond his scientific contributions, Gavin Schmidt has emerged as a prominent communicator of climate science to the public. Through numerous public lectures, media appearances, and his active presence on social media, he endeavours to bridge the gap between complex scientific findings and public understanding. Schmidt’s commitment to science communication aligns with the broader goal of promoting climate literacy and encouraging evidence-based decision-making.

Gavin Schmidt’s engagement extends to advocacy for meaningful climate action. Recognising the urgency of addressing climate change, he actively participates in discussions surrounding climate policy, emphasising the importance of international collaboration and effective strategies to mitigate the impact of human activities on the planet.

Schmidt’s advocacy aligns with the scientific consensus that climate change poses significant risks to ecosystems, human societies, and global stability. By leveraging his expertise and platform, he amplifies the call for policies that prioritise sustainability, resilience, and the preservation of the planet for future generations.

Throughout his career, Schmidt has upheld the principles of scientific integrity, advocating for evidence-based decision-making and robust peer-reviewed research. His dedication to maintaining the highest standards in climate science has earned him recognition and respect within the scientific community and beyond.

Gavin Schmidt’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. He has received various accolades for his work, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize.


00:00 | Trailer
01:48 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
04:44 Brian’s introduction
05:20 A returning Londoner, Gavin notices improvements to the people’s environment
06:30 Freedom from assumptions and judgemental attitudes is why he chooses to live and work in New York
08:14 Gavin’s work evolved from a scientific exercise to something that really matters to people
14:01 How scientists use modelling to understand why and how the environment is affected
20:34 Modelling factors affecting the climate over last one hundred years
25:08 The attribution study shows that greenhouse gasses are the major influence
28:26 Why, when the scientific evidence is so obvious, is it so controversial
34:20 NASA’s involvement in climate change issues and how they can see changes in gravity field on earth
40:50 Rumoured proposed cuts to NASA’s budget and possible effect on climate change analysis
44:45 Hurricane forecasting, mapping and response planning
50:24 Climate change risks for countries, pests and diseases, economy and populations
1:02:21 What we need to be doing to mitigate our risk, adapt to what will come and minimise suffering
1:05:10 How we can reduce carbon emissions
1:15:00 Why the US Federal government’s argument against the Paris Agreement doesn’t stack up
1:16:39 Various US states and places are leading the way in reducing carbon emissions
1:20:32 Why Gavin continues to be inspired to do his work despite Governmental and public opposition
1:25:34 How he argues with people who hold opposing views and why he refused to debate with one
1:32:20 Gavin’s response to the argument that some mitigating policies will adversely affect the poor most
1:32:52 The argument that everyone but China affects change will result in negative change
1:35:46 “I am not a Galileo figure screaming into the wind
“1:37:10 James Hansen had the cojones to speak out about first indications of climate change in the 1980s
1:41:22 Gavin continues GISS ethos of communication and looks for ways to illustrate scientific credibility
1:44:54 Does he worry he might lose his job for holding his views
1:45:45 Al Gore compared current hydro-carbon industry media campaign to that of cigarette companies
1:47:29 Success secrets
1:48:27 What is surprising to learn about Gavin
1:48:51 What keeps Gavin awake at night
1:49:03 Would he ever return to live in London
1:49 22 What Gavin has changed his mind about recently
1:52:10 Phone call to the 20 year old Gavin Schmidt
1:55:31 How Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson dealt with celebrity status and communicating science
1:58:21 Best advice ever received
2:00:21 Advice to the young person who wants to help towards the argument for climate change
2:02:51 Brian’s summing up.


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