Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Dr. Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, and an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author. She received a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Mining Geology from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London (1981) and then worked as an exploration geologist in the Australian outback. In 1990 she received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Geological Research and History of Science from Stanford University. She joined the faculty at Harvard in 2013 after 15 years at the University of California, San Diego.
Naomi is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including The Rejection of Continental Drift (Oxford, 1999) , Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2003), and The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia University Press, 2014). For the past decade, Oreskes has been primarily interested in the science and politics of anthropogenic climate change. Her 2004 essay "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" (Science 306: 1686) has been widely cited, both in the United States and abroad, and her opinion pieces have appeared in many venues, including The Times (London), The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Nature, Science, The New Statesman, and Frankfurter Allgemeine. Her 2010 book, “Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming,” co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Watson-Davis Prize from the History of Science Society. The film version, by the same name and produced by Robby Kenner and Participant Media, was released by SONY Classics Pictures in 2015. In 2014, she had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis at a special meeting at the Vatican on climate change and sustainability, and in 2015 wrote the introduction to the Melville House edition of the Papal Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, Laudato Si’.
Naomi has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, and her Ted Talk, Why We Should Trust Scientists, has over 930,000 views.
Naomi’s current research projects include completion of a scholarly book on the history of Cold War Oceanography, “Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change” (Chicago, forthcoming), and “Assessing Assessments: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Scientific Assessments for Environmental Policy in the Late 20th Century.” She has lectured widely and won numerous prizes, including the 2009 Francis Bacon Medal for outstanding scholarship in the history of science and technology, the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year, the 2014 American Geophysical Union Presidential Citation for Science and Society, the 2014 American Historical Association Herbert Feis prize for public history, and the 2015 Geological Society of America Public Service Award.
Naomi is the mother of two daughter, Hannah Belitz (HLS, 2017) and Clara Belitz (Bowdoin, 2017) and is an avid skier, hiker and climber. In 2011, she and her husband, Kenneth Belitz, summited the Grand Teton. It has been a life-long dream to climb Kilimanjaro, and she is excited about the opportunity to do so with fabulous Harvard alumni!
Check out a recent article in the Harvard Magazine about Naomi Oreskes: How to Write about Science.