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Naomi Oreskes


President Fithian, I have the honor of presenting Naomi Oreskes, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science and professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, and an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author.

Dr. Oreskes, you have devoted your career to elevating our understanding of the actions needed to protect our health and safety and preserve our planet’s survival, while enlightening us about the forces preventing those essential things from getting done. Through your writings, with great integrity, curiosity, and courage, you have brought us behind the curtain to reveal the hard work of good science — and to illuminate the blunt and persistent challenges to it from cynical opportunists in politics and industry.

Your book, “Merchants of Doubt,” is a seminal account of how the public has long been misled about the dangers posed to humanity by everything from global warming to smoking. And your collected works offer a full-throated retort to the denial of scientific fact that infects our public discourse and threatens our ability to progress in ways that serve the common good.

In 2004, you wrote the first peer-reviewed paper to document the scientific consensus surrounding anthropogenic climate change, sounding a warning that has intensified over time. That essay has been cited an astounding 2,500 times, and your findings were showcased in the landmark documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

As a historian, you probe for context to modern concerns by casting a discerning eye on the past. Time and again, you ask the vital question: What might the lessons we’ve learned about our Earth mean for its fate?

Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students, and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, be conferred on Dr. Naomi Oreskes.