Steve recalled the Meet the Press incident when I asked him to appear on a February, 2009 AAAS media panel in Chicago, “Hot and Hotter: Media Coverage of Climate Change Impacts, Policies and Politics.” At the event, he showed an NBC studio photo from that day nearly thirty years earlier, jovially noting how much hair he had then, but also making the more serious point that politics so often trumps substance (and science) in the media, both then and today.
Over the years, however, Steve kept up his efforts to keep the public eye on both the science and the politics of human threats to the planet from global climate change. He has patiently explained the issue to a new generation of reporters and editors, and even re-explained it to some senior science writers. In a July/August 2008 magazine piece I authored for CJR, “Climate Change: Now What?” he used a familiar analogy to explain the media’s tendency to mix up short-term weather events with long-term climate change: “Weather is what you get; climate is what you expect. Weather is the day-to-day fluctuations; climate is the long-term averages, the patterns and probability of extremes.”
Recently, Steve had been doing double-duty in the battle between climate deniers and climate researchers, and many of his science colleagues came to appreciate his willingness to jump into the public fray where fainter scientists dared not tread. He has made journalists’ jobs easier for nearly four decades, and will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of working with him.