Queenstown climate scientist named New Zealander of the Year

2 minutes read
Posted 28 March, 2024
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Dr Jim Salinger

Dr Jim Salinger has been named the 2024 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa.

The 76-year-old, who was born in Dunedin but now lives in Queenstown, is recognised as one of the first scientists to address global warming. In his 50 year career, he's published more than 190 papers, and become an influential communicator on climate change, addressing audiences worldwide.

His work includes ground-breaking research on Southern Hemisphere climate change, documenting the shrinking ice volume in the New Zealand Southern Alps, earning him the prestigious NZ Science and Technology Medal in 1994.

He was a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which collectively earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

A Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand, he is an adjunct research fellow with the School of Geography, Environmental and Earth Sciences at Victoria University, and continues to receive multiple accolades, including the 2018 World Meteorological Organization Award and the 2019 Jubilee Medal, in recognition of his lifetime achievements in climate and agricultural science.

Asked how his friends and family would describe him, he says: "Well, I'm a bit of a geek.

"I've done a lot of work having uncovered climate change from New Zealand in 1975. And there were a lot of people saying, 'well, that's only a theory'. We'd say, 'well, it will be bloody obvious by 2000'.

"We're in a global warming world, and it's important to work on it. We have a limited time on this planet and we're guardians.

"We're doing it for our grandchildren, so they can see where the world may be heading for and that we can prevent it.

"We're making progress but progress is slow. It's very important to work with next generation because we have the wisdom, they have the new ideas. They take the attitude, we can do it. That helps inspire me to advocate with them for the future."

Wakatipu Reforestation Trust chairman Neill Simpson, 90, was named as a semi-finalist in the Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau section.


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