The president elect of the AAAS, James McCarthy is one of the most visible faces in U.S. climate science. He's a world leader on ocean science and the arctic, and he co-chaired a working group of the UN's 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Some things you should know about him:
1. His scientific heroes: U.S. climate science legend Roger Revelle ("For the realization that all these pieces--the oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, climate--fit together") and Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin, who was the first chair of the IPCC in 1988 ("Bert had this sense that scientists had an obligation to put [climate science] into the policy arena. He managed to get scientists to work together to do that.")
2. He's got sharp elbows when it comes to entering the public fray over climate change policy. McCarthy, a professor at Harvard, lambasted a New York Times article that included criticisms of Al Gore's use of science in the film, An Inconvenient Truth. "If you feel obligated to publish what are simply opinions, please use the opinion pages rather than the science section," read his letter to the editor.
3. McCarthy first heard of global warming at Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego, California, where he received his PhD in 1971. At the time it was just a hypothesis of Scripps' David Keeling. "It was a huge question. The data didn't exist to support it," McCarthy told Science. And the government wasn't always supportive. "Keeling was having a terrible time getting funded."
4. McCarthy subscribes to the Jimmy Carter method of fighting climate change. "We wear sweaters," he says when asked how his family does its part to save energy. "We keep our house cool--I take pride in a very low heating fuel bill."
5. McCarthy can trash talk with the best of them. In 1999, wearing full academic regalia with a red and black sash, he presided over a day of football, tug of war and a "musical theater competition". The event pitted Harvard's Pforzheimer House, a Harvard residential house where McCarthy is master, against rival Adams House. "Adams hasn't played football for 100 years. They don't even know the game," he told the campus paper before Pforzheimer won the day, winning rights to share the Adams dining hall for the rest of the year.