Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate

Historians in the News
tags: climate change, climate science, Naomi Oreskes, science relevant to history



The job interviewer scrutinized the young American geology student sitting across from him. She was about to graduate from the Royal School of Mines in London, and was trying to break into a field long unwelcoming to women.

What, he wanted to know, might she have to contribute to the geology of mining? Naomi Oreskes had a simple answer: “I want to find an ore deposit!”

She wound up in the Australian outback in the early 1980s — not to search for deposits, exactly, but to help work out the complex geology of one that had just been found. It would eventually become one of the world’s largest uranium mines.

Yet, in time, prospecting for ores could not hold her interest. Today, from a professorship at Harvard University, Dr. Oreskes is still in the mining business. But rather than digging for minerals, she tunnels into historical archives, and she is still finding radioactive nuggets.

Dr. Oreskes is fast becoming one of the biggest names in climate science — not as a climatologist, but as a defender who uses the tools of historical scholarship to counter what she sees as ideologically motivated attacks on the field. ...




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