As scientists across the world continue mourning the death of Stanford climatologist Stephen H. Schneider, and as plans ripen for a number of memorials to his climate research and communications skills, one scientist particularly skilled at putting his thoughts and ideas into words has started an initial list of “lessons learned” from Schneider.

Ben Santer, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was early out of the gate on July 20 with a moving testimony to Schneider and his work, taking quickly to pen and pencil (bits and bytes) upon learning of the 65-year-old National Academy of Sciences member’s July 19 death while traveling overseas. Santer’s eulogy has been widely quoted and posted online as capturing the thoughts of so many of his climate science colleagues.

Santer, who along with NOAA-Boulder scientist Susan Solomon is preparing a written memorial of Schneider for the American Geophysical Union’s EOS publication, listed the following among lessons he learned from Schneider over the past:

  • Do the best science you possibly can.
  • Don’t let “fear of consequences” dictate the choice of scientific problems you decide to study. Choose the important problems — not the safe ones.
  • Never give up; never be deterred by powerful opposition. Be fearless.
  • Never stop trying to communicate the basic science.
  • Never take refuge in jargon. Always seek clarity of language. Use metaphors. Tell stories. Communicate your passion for what you do.
  • If you cannot convey complex scientific ideas in plain English, and your audience fails to understand you, the fault is yours — it is not the fault of your audience.
  • Take time to talk to anyone about the science you do. Even your critics.
  • Take time to inspire the “next generation” of climate scientists. Make sure they know the science is not “done and dusted”; there is a role for them to play; they can still make their mark on the science.
  • Never engage in “science by assertion”. It is the facts that are important. It is the scientific evidence that is important — not the eminence of your position.”

“With a little thought, I’m sure there are many more lessons I can add to this list,” Santer wrote in a recent e-mail. There’s little doubt that he’ll indeed do so.