I would like to take this opportunity to comment on something both personal and professional. We recently lost a champion of scientific research, and for me a good friend, in F. Sherwood Rowland, Nobel Laureate, who, along with his colleagues Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen, showed us how chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer. This is not a commentary, however, on the magnitude of Sherry Rowland’s work (though monumental it was, indeed). Rather, I reflect on the courage of those scientists who are prepared to jettison conventional wisdom, swim upstream, challenge notions—and bear the scars of that effort wherever it may lead.
Sherry once said that, for nearly a decade after undertaking his groundbreaking research, he could not get invited into a college classroom to lecture, much less excel among his peers. He was challenged at every turn. And yet, through scientific rigor and sheer perseverance, his work was translated from the laboratory into policy in one of the most progressive international measures ever envisioned: the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.