Citation James J. McCarthy

Presented by Trustee Mary Henderson Pressman ’78, P’10

President Hansen, I am honored to present James J. McCarthy.

Mark Twain ended his famous essay about the “dazzling uncertainty” of New England weather with this sentence: “One cannot make the words too strong.”

Faced with the dazzling reality and epic challenge of global climate change, researcher and public intellectual James McCarthy has chosen bold and strong language to communicate the gravity of his and other researchers’ findings.

A Harvard professor of biological oceanography, Dr. McCarthy is an enthusiastic, globe-trotting field researcher who studies ocean plankton in places where the climate changes with the seasons. By investigating this one thread of the undersea food web, he has learned something widely relevant to what we know about our entire climate.

As a public intellectual Dr. McCarthy has been a leader of the era’s most important international climate initiatives and discussions. Recently speaking to a Congressional panel, he ended with these words: “Climate scientists have a responsibility to use every opportunity we have to share our understanding of climate science with the public and with policy makers across the land.”

Dr. McCarthy is surely one of these scientists, whose independent spirit of inquiry emphasizes the idea that scientific advances demand constant questioning of every aspect of current scientific understanding.

For his skillful and dogged personification of the scientist in the public arena, I present James J. McCarthy for the degree Doctor of Science.

President’s conferral:

James McCarthy, in the great tradition of scientists who shoulder the responsibility of communicating knowledge far and wide, you have expanded the depth and breadth of our understanding about the natural environment. Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the degree Doctor of Science, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.