Firor, John 1927-2007 (John W. Firor, John William Firor)

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Firor, John 1927-2007 (John W. Firor, John William Firor)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 18, 1927, in Athens, GA; died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, November 5, 2007, in Pullman, WA. Physicist, atmospheric researcher, administrator, educator, and author. Firor, a longtime trustee and director of the Environmental Defense Fund (now known simply as Environmental Defense) and the World Resources Institute, was an early researcher on the observed climate changes that could threaten the global environment. During the years that he led the National Center for Atmospheric Research, from 1968 to 1980, he monitored increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air and linked it to evidence of global warming. As early as 1990, in his book The Changing Atmosphere: A Global Challenge, he urged national government officials and European regulatory agencies to take immediate and substantial action to reduce the pollution of Earth's atmosphere from what are now called greenhouse gases by the year 2000. It was not global warming per se that alarmed him as a scientist, but climate change so rapid that living organisms could not adapt over time, as they had for millennia. Two years after that benchmark passed, with atmospheric pollution higher than ever, he coauthored The Crowded Greenhouse: Population, Climate Change, and Creating a Sustainable World. Though he wrote for the lay reader, Firor had the backing and respect of the scientific community because he wrote as a scientist, not an activist. His books were based on a lifetime of scientific research. Firor earned his doctorate in physics and spent the 1950s at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, where he studied terrestrial magnetism. In 1961 he moved to the atmospheric research center in Boulder, Colorado, where he spent the rest of his career. He became an expert on public policy issues related to the environment and combined this acquired skill with his scientific knowledge to present entertaining lectures on a potentially grim subject. He also coedited another book, Human Impact on the Environment: Ancient Roots, Current Challenges (1992).



Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2007, p. B8.

New York Times, November 12, 2007, p. A20.

Washington Post, November 15, 2007, p. B7.

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Firor, John 1927-2007 (John W. Firor, John William Firor)

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