Next Avenue: At 68, NOAA’s chief says age and experience will help drive smart climate policy

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the federal government’s premier research agencies, last year tapped Richard “Rick” Spinrad as its new administrator, he became — at 67 — the oldest person ever appointed to lead the agency and its 12,000 employees.

Now 68, Spinrad faces a monumental challenge: to muster the best science in support of arresting climate breakdown, even as most scientists agree we are running out of time to head off the worst consequences. Lately it seems the war is far from being won. The latest State of the Climate report, released at the end of August, shows record concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, ocean heat content and global sea-level rise at record levels as well, while a third of the planet grappled with drought. “Communities across the nation are facing hurricanes, drought, wildfires, extreme heat and intense flooding,” Spinrad said in a recent statement, “with ecosystems and wildlife threatened by habitat loss, sea level rise, warming waters and a host of other threats from a changing climate.”Weather disasters wherever you look In September, while one-third of Pakistan was underwater from monsoon flooding, California remained in drought under a crushing, record-setting heat wave. More than 61 million Americans experienced extreme heat alerts during the late summer. Next Avenue asked Spinrad about his “mission intractable” and what he brings to the fight. The interview was edited for length and clarity. Next …

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