Blue Planet Prize awarded to Potsdam climate scientist Schellnhuber

06/14/2017 - The world's most important award for pioneers in sustainability research will be given to the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. This has been announced today in Tokyo by the Asahi Glass Foundation. The Blue Planet Prize of 50 million Yen honours thinkers and doers for major contributions to solving global environmental problems. Schellnhuber receives the award for establishing the 2 degrees Celsius guardrail of global warming agreed by the governments of all countries at the UN climate summit in Paris. Furthermore, the physicist Schellnhuber shaped the science of Earth System Analysis and developed the most influential concept of tipping elements.
Blue Planet Prize awarded to Potsdam climate scientist Schellnhuber

The list of previous awardees is like a 'Who's who' of international environmental research, ranging from Syukuro Manabe to Charles D. Keeling, Bert Bolin, Susan Solomon or James Hansen. The prize came into being in the year of the Rio Earth Summit and will this fall be awarded for the 26th time. Schellnhuber is the second German to receive it. He will be honoured together with the ecosystem scientist Gretchen Daily from Stanford University, US.

With this award, the Asahi Glass Foundation acknowledges Schellnhuber's "tremendous achievement in buiding the science base for environmental conservation", the jury states. "You and your colleagues went on to select policy-relevant natural phenomena and gave warnings to policymakers about the critical tresholds. (...) These warnings were not only for policymakers, but also for the public, enhancing their awareness of the main environmental issues."

"Seen from outer space, our home looks like a fragile blue marble, embedded in endless darkness," comments Schellnhuber. "Evidently, the Earth and its life-supporting systems need to be handled with the utmost care. Therefore, I am most grateful for receiving the Blue Planet Prize 2017. But at the same time, I feel humbled by the daunting challenge to help preserve our common home for future generations. We climate scientists have a twofold task to fulfill: first, unravelling the web of processes that make or break the planetary environment. And second, taking responsibility for the relentless communication of our findings to the stakeholders and the public. The latter is quite difficult in these times dominated by 'fake news' and 'alternative facts'. So we have to defend reason against superstition and to set moral against ideology. All this epitomized by the Blue Planet Prize."

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