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Michael Oppenheimer

Geosciences, Princeton Environmental Institute and Woodrow Wilson School


Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School and faculty associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program, Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. He is also a visiting professor of law at NYU School of Law.

He joined the Princeton faculty after more than two decades with The Environmental Defense Fund, a non-governmental, environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, serving most recently as a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. He is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Panel on Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels. He is also a science adviser to The Environmental Defense Fund.

His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change and its impacts. Much of his research aims to understand the potential for “dangerous” outcomes of increasing levels of greenhouse gases by exploring the effects of global warming on ecosystems such as coral reefs, on the ice sheets, and on sea level. He also studies the role played by nongovernmental organizations in the policy arena, the role of scientific learning and scientific assessment in decisions on problems of global change, and the potential value of precautionary frameworks.

Relevant Publications

Climate Change and Plant Invasions: Potential Restoration Opportunities Ahead (with BA Bradley and DS Wilcove), Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01824.x, 2009.

Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ‘‘reasons for concern’’ (with many authors), PNAS (www.pnas.org_cgi_doi_10.1073_pnas.0812355106) , 2009.

What is the economic value of information about climate thresholds? (with several authors), in: Human-induced Climate Change: An Interdisciplinary Assessment, ed. M. Schlesinger, H. Kheshgi, J. Smith, F. de la Chesnaye, J. M. Reilly, T. Wilson and C. Kolstad, Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Linked Regimes to Solve the Timing Problem for Global Warming (with A. Petsonk), Prepared for the Conference on Nesting and Overlapping Institutions, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 24 February 2006.

Reinvigorating the Kyoto System and Beyond: Maintaining the Fundamental Architecture, Meeting Long-Term Goals, prepared for Leaders’ Summit on Post-Kyoto Architecture: Toward an L20? (with A. Petsonk), Council on Foreign Relations, September 20-21, 2004.