I was unaccountably saddened by the news today that Philip Clapp had died. I say “unaccountably” because I really didn’t know the man. I had been in the same room with him exactly one time, when he spoke to a group of Knight Fellows in College Park, MD, right after Memorial Day.
But of all the nearly two dozen speakers paraded before us over the four-day climate change seminar, Clapp stood out. He was Deputy Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group, an outgrowth of the National Environmental Trust and to say that he knew his stuff would be an enormous understatement. He held an impressive–almost singular, it seemed to me–footing on the treacherous ground of climate science and policy. Speaking without a single note, he had a way of distilling the topic down to its stark realities. It was riveting–and a little scary. But listening to him, I didn’t get the sense that Clapp was some sort of professional alarmist. I did get the sense that he could see our high-carbon future with unusual clarity–and I left the room glad that he was on the job.
Philip Clapp died in Amsterdam at the age of 54. David Roberts posted this obituary for Grist.