Thursday, January 5, 2012

Climate Scientist, former IPCC Chair, Bob Watson Honored with Knighthood

Climate scientist Bob Watson of the University of East Anglia has been awarded a knighthood. Watson is a professor of environmental sciences at UEA and also Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, where he has been since 2007.  He was Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1997 to 2002. 

Besides his knighthood, the now Sir Bob Watson has been the recipient of numerous awards over his prestigious career, including the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing, the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, and the insignia of Honorary Companion of St. Michael and St. George, which he received from the British government.

Prior to returning to his native Britain, Watson had been Director of the Science Division and Chief Scientist for the Office of Mission to Planet Earth NASA and later was Associate Director for Environment in the Clinton White House.  He also served as a chief scientist with the World Bank and a variety of international environmental organizations.

He Chaired the IPCC during the development of the Third Assessment Report, which was published in 2001. According to Wikipedia, "In April 2002 the United States pressed for and won his replacement by Rajendra Pachauri as IPCC chair. According to New Scientist, "The oil industry seems to be behind the move." The industry campaign to oust Watson had begun days after George W. Bush's inauguration in January 2001, with a memo to the White House from Randy Randol of oil giant ExxonMobil asking "Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the US?"

According to the press release from the University of East Anglia, on receiving the news of his knighthood Watson said:

"I am delighted and humbled by this honour, which implicitly recognises the value of scientific knowledge in national and international environmental policy formulation. Of all the honours I have received this is very special, not only to me but also to my family and friends."

Photo credit: Courtesy of UAE.

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