Photo of Roger R. D. Revelle

Roger R. D. Revelle

  • National Medal of Science
  • Physical Sciences

For his pioneering work in the areas of carbon dioxide and climate modification, oceanographic exploration presaging plate tectonics, and the biological effects of radiation in the marine environment, and studies of human population growth and global food supplies.

One of the first scientists to predict global warming, geologist and oceanographer Roger Revelle joked that he received the National Medical Science for being “the grandfather of the greenhouse effect.”

While working as director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego in the 1950s and 1960s, Revelle saw the potential for a climate crisis. He believed that previous geologists had incorrectly predicted how quickly the Earth’s oceans could absorb excess carbon dioxide.

In 1957, Revelle brought the problem to the world’s attention when he coauthored a paper with physical chemist Hans Seuss explaining greenhouse effect and the issues it could cause.

Revelle’s focus on the future wasn’t solely focused on climate change. He also participated in several humanitarian efforts.

In 1964, Revelle founded the Center for Population Studies at Harvard University. The center, which still functions today, works to fight world hunger through scientific advances and research.

By Rachel Warren