The Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen (1933-2021), who received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, died on January 28 at the age of 87 in Mainz. The information was confirmed by the Max Planck Institute, where the researcher developed his research in recent years. The cause of death was not disclosed.
With scientists Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, Crutzen conducted studies that identified the causes of the hole in the ozone layer, a barrier that plays an important role in the absolution of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Without the shift, life on planet earth would be threatened. These studies earned the trio the Nobel Prize.
In his research, Crutzen showed that chemicals accelerate the reaction that attacks the ozone layer. He later formulated the theory that the decrease in the protective barrier could be explained by the increase in the emission of industrial gases.
“Paul Crutzen was a pioneer in several ways. He was the first to demonstrate how human activities damage the ozone layer. Knowledge of the causes of ozone depletion was the basis for a worldwide ban on substances that can damage the barrier,” said so Martin Stratmann. President of the Max Planck Society said in a statement.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet you personally, a brilliant scientist and also an open, patient and friendly person,” said Stratmann.
From the 2000s onwards, the scientist coined and popularized the term Anthropocene to describe the current geological era of the planet, in which human actions shape the transformations on planet Earth.
“I see this debate as an opportunity to achieve an urgently needed ecological reorientation,” said Crutzen of the discussions that followed the development of the term.
Crutzen’s work in the laboratory and his performance outside of university in contact with civil society have been critical in raising awareness that something must be done by governments, companies, and groups of people to keep life on the planet. Crutzen provided scientific support so that environmental measures could be better planned and implemented to stop human-induced global warming.
Without Crutzen, we would hardly see the rise of young people who are passionate about environmental protection, like the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has already established herself as one of the most respected voices on ecological issues at the age of 18.
Born in Amsterdam, Crutzen began his career as a civil engineer and later became a computer programmer at the Institute of Meteorology at Stockholm University, Sweden, where his fascination with atmospheric research was born. In 1968 he received his doctorate in this field and from then on engaged in research in this area.
He was a researcher and professor at several prestigious institutions such as the University of Oxford, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the USA and the University of California. In 1980 he became director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz. The scientist stayed in office until 2000, when he officially retired.
According to the Max Planck Institute, Crutzen has published more than 500 articles and other scientific texts as well as 15 books. The scientist left behind his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.