Mario Molina, a co-winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, died this week. 

AP Photograph/Gregory Bull

Originally published by E&E News

Mario Molina, a chemist whose work on the ozone layer earned him a Nobel Prize in 1995, died yesterday in Mexico Metropolis. He was 77.

Molina’s household introduced his loss of life in a quick assertion by way of the institute that carried his identify. It didn’t give a reason for loss of life.

Molina’s work was essential to enacting the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987, and it made him some of the consequential scientists of the previous 50 years.

“He is one of many single most essential contributors to local weather safety in world historical past,” mentioned Paul Bledsoe, a former local weather adviser within the White Home beneath former President Invoice Clinton who labored with Molina in varied capacities through the years.

Molina and American scientist Frank Sherwood Rowland printed a paper in 1974 that discovered chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemical substances utilized in quite a lot of merchandise, have been destroying the ozone layer.

The groundbreaking research was lambasted by the chemical substances business, nevertheless it opened the general public’s eyes to the dangerous results of CFCs and led on to the Montreal Protocol.

Molina labored behind the scenes to draft the treaty, which phased out CFCs around the globe and has since turn out to be probably the most profitable worldwide effort to combat local weather change and environmental degradation.

On the time the 1974 paper was printed, the typical American family had 15 aerosol cans that contained CFCs, mentioned Durwood Zaelke, an environmental lawyer and advocate who labored incessantly with Molina through the years.

“Mario helped encourage citizen boycotts on the way in which to the Montreal Protocol,” Zaelke mentioned in an interview.

In 1995, Molina’s work on ozone depletion made him the primary Mexican scientist to win the Nobel Prize, which he shared with Rowland and Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen.

In later years, Molina was a continuing proponent of the Montreal Protocol and its transformation, by way of ensuing amendments, right into a local weather treaty.

The settlement now phases out greater than 100 substances, together with extremely potent short-lived greenhouse gases akin to hydrofluorocarbons.

“As a result of these similar chemical substances that destroy the ozone layer additionally heat the local weather, the Montreal Protocol additionally has made an incredible contribution to local weather safety, almost 20 instances as a lot because the Kyoto Protocol,” Molina wrote in a 2012 New York Instances op-ed with Zaelke.

“It is a planet-saving treaty, defending each the ozone layer and the local weather system,” wrote Molina.

The hanging factor about Molina, Zaelke mentioned, is that he was a consummate gentleman, regardless of being “vilified” by the chemical substances business for years after he first printed his ozone analysis.

“All through this, Mario by no means, by no means modified his willingness to combat and his willingness to stay a gentleman. That is who he was,” Zaelke mentioned. “He would have been a superb diplomat if he had chosen that as a profession.”

Molina earned his Ph.D. from the College of California, Berkeley, in 1972 and in later years rejoined the identical system as a professor on the College of California, San Diego.

He was a outstanding determine within the scientific and political worlds in Mexico and america. Molina was a member of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences and served on the Nationwide Fee on Vitality Coverage.

Molina was additionally one among 21 scientists on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Expertise. Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Zaelke mentioned Molina was nonetheless working up till his final days. The pair had simply gotten an op-ed permitted when Zaelke heard about Molina’s loss of life.

“Mario has left a highway map for us for fixing local weather change with quick mitigation and a sectoral method, constructing on the Montreal Protocol,” Zaelke mentioned.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2020. E&E gives important information for vitality and atmosphere professionals. 

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