Last updated on: 4/17/2015 | Author:

Peter Gleick, PhD Biography

CEO of the Pacific Institute
Pro to the question "Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?"

“Climate does change naturally for reasons well understood by scientists. But it does so over thousands or tens of thousands of years – time scales so slow as to be imperceptible to humans…

Human-caused climate changes are different. As the planet’s population has grown to 7 billion people, and as we have learned how to mobilize vast quantities of carbon-based fossil fuels (ironically, created over geologic time scales) to satisfy our short-term energy demands, we have become powerful enough to overwhelm slow geological cycles. We are, for the first time in the 4+ billion year history of the Earth capable of altering the largest geophysical system on the planet – the climate – and we are doing it on a human time scale of years and decades, with consequences we are only just beginning to comprehend. And ironically, our effect on the climate is still slow enough for policy makers, climate contrarians and skeptics, and those simply not paying attention to either actively deny it or to just look the other way, committing the planet to more and more change…

[T]he inability to comprehend the planetary influence of humans isn’t based on reviewing and rejecting the scientific evidence, which is clear to 97-98% of climate scientists publishing in the field. It is based on ignoring or disbelieving it.”

“Climate Change, Disbelief, and the Collision Between Human and Geologic Time,”, Jan. 16, 2012

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Individuals with PhDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to the study of climate. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to the study of climate.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • CEO and Cofounder, Pacific Institute, 1987-present
  • Member of Editorial Board, Environmental Research Letters, 2006-present
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Himalayan Glaciers, Hydrology, Climate Change and Water Security, 2011-2012
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Climate, Energy, and National Security, 2009-2012
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Ecological Impacts of Climate Change, 2008-2009
  • Recipient, MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant,” Oct. 2003
  • Research Associate, Energy and Resources Group, University of California at Berkeley, 1983-1986
  • Deputy Assistant, Energy and Environment Office, Governor of California, 1980-1982
  • Research and Teaching Associate, University of California and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 1978-1981
  • PhD, Energy and Resources, University of California at Berkeley, 1986
  • MS, Energy and Resources, University of California at Berkeley, 1980
  • BS, Engineering and Applied Science, Yale University, 1978
  • In 2012 he was responsible for obtaining and releasing confidential Heartland Institute documents, detailing their strategy on climate change research, and revealing some of the funders of their climate change research work.
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?