Metchosin college alumnus makes it on ‘Time’s Top 100 Influential People’ list

Metchosin college alumnus makes it on 'Time's Top 100 Influential People' list
Pearson College UWC
Climate scientist and researcher Geert Jan van Oldenborgh has been added to the Time's Top 100 Most Influential People of 2021.

A climate scientist and researcher who graduated from Pearson College UWC in Metchosin has been named one of Time’s Top 100 Most Influential People of 2021.

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, along with fellow researcher Friederike Otto, is being recognized for his work at the World Weather Attribution project. The initiative was created to provide robust, rapid assessments on the role of climate change in the aftermath of a weather event instead of years later.

“That speed means that people reading about our accelerating string of disasters increasingly get the most important information of all: it’s coming from us,” explained environmentalist Bill McKibben, writing about the two researchers for Time.

When the historic, record-shattering heat wave hit Vancouver Island and Pacific Northwest this summer, van Oldenborgh’s team quickly mobilized to analyze the trends, concluding the heat was “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”

READ MORE: Unprecedented Heatwave: Hottest day ever recorded on Vancouver Island

Van Oldenborgh is from the Netherlands and graduated from Pearson in 1980 and said that his work and project would have been “much less successful” without his education in Metchosin.

“I arrived as a typical nerdy student: excellent at academics but not all that good in social interactions,” van Oldenborgh said in a press release. “On campus I learned communication skills with people from different cultures and communication styles, which served me well in working in the international teams that are the rule in climate science projects.”

Attending Pearson, he said, made him much more aware of the world outside of Europe and North America.

“In our work we try to address weather and climate extremes in all parts of the world so that we can answer the most relevant questions,” van Oldenborgh said.

Pearson College UWC was founded in 1974 as Canada’s only United World College with a mission of teaching peace and sustainability to domestic and international students, according to its website.

“This is a tremendous recognition for Geert and truly reflective of where we as a college have been and will continue to be as we educate and engage young people from around the world on the many positive ways they can influence and take action on climate justice,” said Craig Davis, the college’s president.

 “Individuals like Geert and others from Pearson and schools around the world really pioneered the path of climate science and climate justice.”

The college is working on developing a Climate Action Leadership (CAL) diploma program that Davis hopes will inspire many others to follow in van Oldenborgh’s footsteps and “take up this mantle.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Island preparing for the third heat wave of the year

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!