Last updated on: 1/3/2018 | Author:

Ilissa Ocko, PhD Biography

Climate Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Pro to the question "Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?"

“We are statistically more confident that humans cause climate change than that smoking causes cancer…

The research falls into nine independently-studied but physically-related lines of evidence, that build to the overall clear conclusion that humans are the main cause of climate change:

1. Simple chemistry that when we burn carbon-based materials, carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted (research beginning in 1900s)

2. Basic accounting of what we burn, and therefore how much CO2 we emit (data collection beginning in 1970s)

3. Measuring CO2 in the atmosphere and trapped in ice to find that it is indeed increasing and that the levels are higher than anything we’ve seen in hundreds of thousands of years (measurements beginning in 1950s)

4. Chemical analysis of the atmospheric CO2 that reveals the increase is coming from burning fossil fuels (research beginning in 1950s)

5. Basic physics that shows us that CO2 absorbs heat (research beginning in 1820s)

6. Monitoring climate conditions to find that recent warming of the Earth is correlated to and follows rising CO2 emissions (research beginning in 1930s)

7. Ruling out natural factors that can influence climate like the Sun and ocean cycles (research beginning in 1830s)

8. Employing computer models to run experiments of natural vs. human-influenced ‘simulated Earths’ (research beginning in 1960s)

9. Consensus among scientists that consider all previous lines of evidence and make their own conclusions (polling beginning in 1990s)…

The science is settled, and the sooner we accept this, the sooner we can work together towards addressing the problems caused by climate change – and towards a better future for us all.”

“How Do We Know That Humans Are Causing Climate Change? These Nine Lines of Evidence,”, Mar. 23, 2017

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Climate Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Aug. 2015-present
  • Founder & CEO, Interfaith Living, Oct. 2014-present
  • Guest Analyst, Climate Feedback
  • Volunteer Speaker, Climate Voices
  • Freelance Graphic and Website Designer, Feb. 2011-present
  • Postdoctoral Science Fellow, EDF, Aug. 2013-Aug. 2015
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, May 2009
  • American Meteorological Society Industry/Government Graduate Fellowship, May 2008
  • PhD, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, 2013
  • MA, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, 2010
  • BSE, Earth System Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, 2004
  • Twitter: @ilissaocko
  • Won the NASA Fame Lab USA science communication competition in May 2016
  • Recipient, Emerging Alumni Scholar Award, Princeton University, Mar. 2013
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?