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AOS Alum Alan Robock Receives the 2022 Future of Life Award

August 11, 2022

Congratulations to AOS alum Alan Robock (B.A. 1970, Meteorology) on his achievement receiving the 2022 Future of Life Award on August 6, 2022 “for reducing the risk of nuclear war by developing and popularizing the science of nuclear winter.” He shares the award with John Birks, Paul Crutzen, Jeannie Peterson, Carl Sagan, Georgiy Stenchikov, Brian Toon, and Richard Turco. Each awardee received a plaque and $50,000.

The award ceremony took place on the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the U.S. at the Future of Life Institute. The Future of Life Institute is a nonprofit seeking to reduce extreme, large-scale risks from transformative technologies. It also aims for the future development and use of these technologies to be beneficial to all life. “The current geopolitical conflict discourse is absurdly cavalier about nuclear war risk,” says MIT physics Professor Max Tegmark, the President of the Future of Life Institute. “In these turbulent times, the more decision-makers understand about nuclear winter, the less likely they are to make reckless decisions that may cause it.”

Distinguished Professor Alan Robock teaches and does research in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. He has been working on the climatic impacts of nuclear war for the past 40 years, along with his related work on the impacts of volcanic eruptions on climate and on climate intervention (also called geoengineering).

Robock leads a new six-year research effort alongside Professor Brian Toon from the University of Colorado. Their work uses state-of-the-art climate models, computer programs that simulate the response of the atmosphere, oceans, and agriculture to the injection of smoke from fires ignited by nuclear war. In doing so, they have resulted in many journal articles that show nuclear winter theory is real and look at the global impacts of a nuclear war. In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons” based partly on the work of Robock and Toon.

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