Obama honors climate scientist Mario Molina with Medal of Freedom

Source: E&E • Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

President Obama announced that Nobel laureate Mario Molina will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed on a civilian, this fall at the White House.

Molina is an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, San Diego, and a public voice warning of the impacts of climate change and suggesting solutions to mitigate its effects. His work spans 40 years in the field in which he shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for helping reveal how a class of common household products was damaging the Earth’s ozone layer.

He has also worked as a science adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Molina splits his year between a research center he presides over in Mexico City and UCSD. He learned about the honor while working in his laboratory in Mexico City.

U-T San Diego recently interviewed Molina about the award and on the evolution of climate science and policy.

The divide in Congress and the immediate backlash from Republicans against the president’s Climate Action Plan were a point of departure.

“It’s still the case that Congress — specifically Republicans in Congress — has questions about the science of climate change,” Molina told U-T San Diego. “So that means that whatever President Obama can do on those issues won’t require the approval of Congress. There are limitations to that, the main one being the ratification of an international agreement. With climate change being a global problem, eventually, that would be essential.”

Molina spoke of an information gap between the public and scientific community as a hindrance to progress (Gary Robbins, U-T San Diego, Aug. 17). — CJ