Richard C. J. Somerville

Articles by Richard C. J. Somerville

13 March 2016

Climate change and the 2016 election

Richard C. J. SomervilleCatherine Gautier

The Republican presidential candidates have gone to a great deal of trouble to avoid confronting the facts about climate change. These politicians like to say, "I am not a scientist," a truth sadly obvious to any scientist. Yet they have refused to learn what science has discovered about climate change. 

22 January 2016
AfricaAmericasAsiaEurope/RussiaMiddle East

It is still three minutes to midnight

Lynn EdenRobert RosnerRod EwingLawrence M. KraussSivan KarthaThomas R. PickeringRaymond T. PierrehumbertRamamurti RajaramanJennifer SimsRichard C. J. SomervilleSharon SquassoniDavid Titley

In keeping the hands of the Doomsday Clock at three minutes to midnight, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board mean to make a clear statement: The world situation remains highly threatening to humanity, and decisive action to reduce the danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change is urgently required.

19 January 2015
AfricaAmericasAsiaEurope/RussiaMiddle East

Three minutes and counting

Lynn EdenRobert RosnerRod EwingSivan KarthaEdward "Rocky" Kolb Lawrence M. KraussLeon LedermanRaymond T. PierrehumbertM. V. RamanaJennifer SimsRichard C. J. SomervilleSharon SquassoniElizabeth J. WilsonDavid TitleyRamamurti Rajaraman

Today, more than 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board have looked closely at the world situation and found it so threatening that the hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at three minutes to midnight.

13 January 2014
AfricaAmericasAsiaEurope/RussiaMiddle East

Five minutes is too close

Lawrence M. KraussLynn EdenRobert RosnerAlexander GlaserEdward "Rocky" Kolb Leon LedermanRamamurti RajaramanM. V. RamanaElizabeth J. WilsonRichard C. J. SomervilleSivan KarthaJennifer SimsRod Ewing

A careful review of threats leads the Bulletin's Science and Security Board to conclude that the risk of civilization-threatening technological catastrophe remains high, and that the hands of the Doomsday Clock should therefore remain at five minutes to midnight.

14 January 2013

An open letter to President Obama: The time on the Doomsday Clock is five minutes to midnight

Robert SocolowThomas RosenbaumLynn EdenRod EwingAlexander GlaserSivan KarthaEdward "Rocky" Kolb Leon LedermanRamamurti RajaramanM. V. RamanaRobert RosnerJennifer SimsRichard C. J. SomervilleElizabeth J. Wilson

Editor's note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the planet.

13 August 2012

Climate change, irreversibility, and urgency

Richard C. J. Somerville

Climate scientists like to think of themselves as wise planetary physicians, explaining to the world what they have learned about climate and advising humanity on how to cope with the challenge of climate change. This metaphor can also appear attractive to policymakers and the public. Consider the appealing similarities between deciding what you should do about your weight and what the world should do about global warming. You can ask your doctor's opinion, but it is you who will determine your target weight. You can also ask your physician to recommend actions to reach that target.

23 July 2010

The passing of a climate prodigy

Richard C. J. Somerville

A towering figure in climate science, Stephen H. Schneider, 65, died of an apparent heart attack on July 19, 2010, while flying to London from a conference in Stockholm. The loss of Schneider, a professor at Stanford University, deprives the world of both an outstanding researcher and a gifted science communicator. To his colleagues in climate science, Steve, as everybody called him, has long been known as a scientific pioneer and a role model.

7 January 2008

Reflections on the U.N. climate change negotiations in Bali

Richard C. J. Somerville

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), long regarded as the single most trustworthy source of information on climate science, states unequivocally that Earth's climate is warming rapidly and that we're now more than 90 percent certain that human activities have caused most of the observed warming in recent decades. The research behind these findings, published in the IPCC's landmark 2007 report, is rock-solid science.