Time magazine names me one of the “Heroes of the Environment 2009” and “The Web’s most influential climate-change blogger”

I have to admit “” sometimes Joe Romm ruins my mornings. As the author of Climate Progress, one of the most influential global-warming blogs on the Internet, few debates on energy or the environment get past his ravenous attention, and he takes particular pleasure in targeting mainstream journalists who’ve written something he deems stupid. That’s been me occasionally “” like the time Romm took me to task for referencing an analysis on energy research and development he found wanting. At least I’m in good company: writers from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have all been the subject of Romm posts.

Time CoverI don’t know what’s more suprising.  That Time named me one of its “Heroes of the Environment 2009” — I certainly don’t see myself as a hero.  Or that they gave the assignment to Bryan Walsh, given my earlier critique of one of his pieces — and he still wrote such a generous profile, which continues:

But here’s the thing “” more often than not Romm’s right. A physics Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Romm, 49, clearly has brains to spare. He combines that intellect with a strong sense of moral outrage. He also possesses a Jon Stewart-like quality for pointing out the absurdity of his opponents.

Unlike many climate bloggers, Romm comes at global warming not from an environmental background but from a national-security one. After graduating from MIT, he worked at the Rockefeller Foundation. His job in the twilight of the Cold War was to identify the world’s new big problems “” and as he talked to experts across the ideological spectrum, he found them: energy and climate change. “These were the sleeper issues that were really going to dominate the coming decades,” says Romm.

The 1990s were spent working for the Clinton Administration in Washington, where for several years he was an acting assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, an experience that put him well ahead of the curve on green power. But it wasn’t until Romm’s brother lost his house in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina that climate change became personal. Romm began an in-depth research project to determine whether his brother should rebuild there. The result was the 2006 global-warming book Hell and High Water, which displayed a trademark urgency that bordered on hectoring. “The consequences of doing nothing were far more than what people realized,” he says.

It’s become Romm’s mission to make people realize that “” and his Climate Progress blog is the perfect vehicle for this son of a newspaper editor. What began as a once-a-day side job has become full time, with Romm scouring the Internet for climate studies and filtering them through his own firmly fixed values: that global warming is a potential human catastrophe, but that it can be fixed with today’s green technology, applied relentlessly. It’s “excellent and indispensable,” as New York Times columnist “” and new green champion “” Thomas Friedman likes to say.

It’s also much needed therapy for a writer who spends his time worrying about the fate of the world. “I used to be very frustrated,” he says. “But the blog keeps my blood pressure down.”

Indeed, it does (see “Why I blog“).

Walsh is a good reporter, as evidenced by his 2008 cover story, “How to Win the War on Global Warming,” which I thought was first rate.

[Note: If anyone has come here because of the Time story, be sure to read “An Introduction to Climate Progress.”]

Time sent a great photographer, Jordan Hollender, who took a lot of photos.  I might try to post some of the others.  I’m a little surprised this is the one they used but I certainly do sometimes blog with my daughter on my lap.  And she certainly is a great motivation for me to fight to preserve a livable climate for the next generation.

One final comment on the subject of heroes.  When your father is a newspaper editor and your mother is also a journalist and your older brother collects comic books, it’s hard not to see journalists as heroes.

Clark Kent, of course, was (is?) a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper.  Peter Parker was a newspaper photographer.  Journalists were secret heroes.  With Woodward and Bernstein and All The President’s Men, real journalists themselves became movie heroes to my generation.  But now, a great many journalists have become part of the establishment, like Woodward himself, defenders of the status quo, like David Broder, stenographer of those centrists who are fatally uninformed about global warming.

Certainly I have the greatest respect for Time magazine, which continues to do the best science-based global warming coverage of any major national magazine (see “Time: How climate change is causing a new age of extinction“).  So this means a lot coming from them, though it is ironic that I am being recognized in part for taking on the media itself, for being in some sense an anti-journalist, like Jon Stewart.

Let me end with Time‘s framing of this issue:

From saving wild mountain rivers in China to measuring the Arctic’s icy expanse, from protecting the lush forests of Africa to conducting a feisty online debate, our green heroes are informed by this simple notion: We can all make a difference….

It’s easy to think that all the hard decisions are in the hands of our leaders alone. Not true. As the men and women in the following pages prove, we can all make a difference. Pen Hadow, leader of a daring survey across the Arctic to measure the thickness of sea ice, puts it this way: “Turning off a standby light once won’t make a difference. Do it for the rest of your life and that amounts to something. And if everybody’s doing something, then we’re moving in the right direction.” We hope our environmental heroes provide both inspiration and action. Like financial pundits, most of them embrace the idea that a crisis also presents opportunity. They are heroes because they set out to discover what that opportunity might be.

We can all make a difference.  Indeed, we must.

61 Responses to Time magazine names me one of the “Heroes of the Environment 2009” and “The Web’s most influential climate-change blogger”

  1. Boudica says:

    You’ve long been my hero and I suspect we ain’t seen nothing yet!

  2. ecostew says:

    Thanks for all you do Joe.

  3. ken levenson says:

    Great news – congratulations!

  4. Baerbel says:

    A well-deserved honor – Congratulations!

  5. Nancy says:

    Well deserved, Joe. Congrats!

  6. Rick Covert says:


    Congratulations! You deserve it. Thank you for your tireless efforts to debunk the entire BS surrounding the science around catastrophic climate change, the Waxman Markey bill and the clownish antics of those who oppose saving human civilization.

  7. Robo says:

    This is the first blog I have ever accessed. Time got me here and you respond with an echo of Time. All good news. For me climate change is the future “monstrous crow, as big as a tar barrel”. Here’s the irony: it may be the only thing that can effectively resolve all of the ridulous but unyielding human conflicts that currently plague us to the point of exasperation. But keep blogging; when Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are finally forced to come to their senses, we must be ready and waiting with our solutions or it may be too late.

  8. dwight says:

    Congratulations, Joe!

    I love that the photo also included your ultra low energy oven and refrigerator. Most people aren’t willing to accept the tradeoff in performance for that model. It’s great to see you walk the walk.

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo! Super job!! Congratulations!

    And, I think the picture is a great one.



  10. Congratulations. And thanks for your comments on Time magazine which I subscribe to but have been thinking of canceling because of some of the extremists they let write in their magazine. For now, though, I will give them another chance.

  11. Dee says:

    Congratulations, onward!

  12. Ed says:

    Hartelijk gefeliciteerd! Dutch for congratulations!


  13. Rebecca says:

    I read you every day. Thank you Joe, for keeping your sense of humor and fighting this fight for all of us, even the ones who don’t know they need rescued.

  14. Roger says:

    Hats off to you, Joe! The photo of you and your daughter pulled a heart string or two; it’s the kids’ futures that motivate many of us.

    A few futher thoughts: Besides you, Secretary Chu, and a few others, it seems that the editors were looking for some fresh faces. Two names that immediately come to mind, at the global level, are Jim Hansen and Bill McKibben. These two quiet but effective heroes have been carrying the torch for decades, putting themselves on the line, and motivating millions more to keep the climate/environmental movement moving and growing.

    Of course many other folks could be named, including Nancy (above) and numerous other regular readers of your wonderful, informative blog. So, please keep up the fantastic job, hero Joe!

  15. ZS says:

    This is the first blog I have ever accessed.

    Wow! Well, gotta say, you started at the very top. This is one of my favorite blogs, period, and certainly my favorite climate/energy/environmental blog. There’s a mess of blogs out there, many of them pretty bad, so it might be good for you to check out some of the websites that Joe’s linked to on the right side of each page.

    By the way, congratulations yet again Joe, you deserve it!

  16. TomG says:

    Well deserved.
    Congratulations and please keep up the great work.

  17. dhogaza says:

    What? They didn’t give the award to Anthony Watts, science blogger of the year?

    Just kidding. Congratulations, and keep up the good fight.

  18. Roger says:

    Joe, Further to my prior comment, your blog plays a truly heroic role in helping with the vital task of educating the public about climate change. There is now fresh evidence that education encourages action.

    A “World Wide Views on Global Warming” survey was carried out yesterday with support of The Danish Board of Technology, in preparation for December’s UN climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen (see It showed, among other things, that the more people know about climate change, the more they want to do something about it, and/or have their governments do something about it.

    A much-related theme that emerged from the discussions among participants was that the governments and leaders should be doing more to educate the public about climate change–whether it be through “State of the Climate” speeches to citizens, through paid advertisements, or by other means. Let’s hear it for EDUCATION!

  19. Despite dhoghaza and his snark rifle, I’ll offer my congratulations as well.

    Even though we disagree on most everything, there’s always room for civility and congratulations of recognition.

  20. jcwinnie says:

    The caption for the 2nd image should read: “But, Daddy, it’s much quicker if you use the CLI.”

  21. Larry Coleman says:

    Well, Joe, you ARE a hero of the environment. While I don’t always agree with you, your positions are always thoughtful and founded in facts and reason. Well, except maybe the biological effects of cell phone radiation. :)

    I am continually astonished at your energy in covering all of the important topics that you do.

  22. David B. Benson says:

    Well deserved recognition!

  23. Jim Eaton says:

    Hope this honor keeps you going at full steam! We all are proud of you.

  24. Tom Gray says:

    Heartiest congratulations, Joe! You are a terrific choice.–Tom Gray, American Wind Energy Association

  25. John Stanley says:

    Well done and well deserved! Your blog is way ahead in style, smarts and science…which is why it really is a must-read on the biggest issue of our time.

  26. Joe says:

    Thanks for all these comments. They mean as much as the recognition — indeed, without you, there’d be no blog.

  27. paulm says:

    What did I tell you Joe! Keep it up.

    Best Climate Blog award, hands down.

    Looks like your daughter will be taking over at some point. That’s why they choose that picture I guess.

    TIME everyone got on board to sort out this nightmare.

  28. J says:

    Congratulations Joe – you earned it! Keep up the great work!

  29. Will Koroluk says:

    There are several blogs that I visit every day or two. But yours is the only one I visit twice a day. Minimum. It’s indispensable.

  30. Drew Jones says:

    Yeah JOE!!!! Proud of you!

  31. JoshKaplowitz says:

    Congrats– this is well-deserved. Yours is the first and only blog that I read on a daily basis. I’m sure my friends are sick of me always linking to you from my Facebook page, but I hope I have at least succeeded in driving a few of them over here for good (in all senses of the word).

  32. Phil Clarke says:

    Way to go Joe. Very near the top of my FireFox ‘Most Visited’ … one almost wishes ‘Climate Progress’ was unnecesary by now, but it clearly ain’t so … alongside RC you provide an invaluable source for the debunking and rebuttal material both on the science and the politics …

  33. And the thing of it is, they are absolutely right! As one of those whom Al Gore personally trained to give updated presentations of his slide show, your blog really is the best resource the people associated with Gore’s Climate Project could possibly have. In fact I read _Hell & High Water_ during my original training in Nashville so I could better understand the material Mr. Gore was teaching us.

  34. Gail says:

    Yes, you are a hero!

  35. RoySV says:

    Three Cheers to you Joe!

    Please keep going and know that there are a lot of us who rely on your skill, knowledge and incisive writing to keep a grip on this struggle for global health and safety.

    You remain the “Go To Guy”

    Roy Terry

  36. lgcarey says:

    Congratulations, Joe! It’s a well deserved recognition, and (I hope) a sign that there’s a broadening awareness of the gravity of the issue. You are indeed the “go to” resource on climate change. Bryan Walsh has done some really first rate work on climate change, and should get high marks here for writing a really nicely rounded piece on you and not taking your occasional critique personally.

  37. mike roddy says:

    Ditto. You the man, Joe, especially for the way you don’t dance around, but come out and say it.

  38. Doug Meyer says:

    Joe, this blog is the best source of information on climate related issues, period. Your (I think amazing) efforts are truly worthy of this kind of recognition. I don’t know how you do it, but I hope you keep it up!

    That said, your well-deserved time in the spotlight is tempered, I’m sure, by the fact that they are recognizing you for being a “hero of the environment”, whereas you’ve pointed out clearly that you are not an environmentalist. You are indeed one of the few who understands the difference between environmentalism and the progressive camp to which you belong. I hope you’ll take time again soon to clarify the distinction.

    Of course, “environmentalism” has value in politics today because the public still doesn’t understand the magnitude of the environmental transformation certain to occur by the end of the century, even in the most optimistic scenarios. That’s the truth underlying the moral point that is about all we true environmentalists have left to say now.

    Though you’ve made efforts in this area, the progressive message might result in the public not really getting it (re what’s going to happen to Earth’s ecosystems) because it’s just not a topic people want to think about. That’s too bad…maybe abandoning the Ponzi scheme could only come from a thorough rethinking of humanity’s proper place in the environment.

  39. PeterW says:

    Congrats Joe and thank you for providing sanity in a world of delusion.

  40. jon Elam says:

    Gosh, it is so refreshing to see you get this recognition. It reassures many of us who follow it daily that we are hooking up to someone that truly does reflect and respect the democratic process. Thanks, each of us are in the trenches fighting the fight, but we need your guiding light for reassureance and hope. Keep up the great efforts.

  41. Dana N. says:

    Very well-deserved, and a very well-written article to boot.

  42. Don Carli says:

    Well deserved and long overdue recognition for your prescience & persistence.

  43. Stephan says:

    Congratulations Joe. Well deserved.

    And it is definitely true, we can all make a difference! For more info on the environment and companies that also want to make a difference, have a look at this Green News.

  44. raleigh Latham says:

    Congrats Joe, you may not believe think you a hero, but you are a great one. Your dedication to truth, honesty, and dealing with the problem at hand is inspiring. Cheers from Oregon.

  45. Sable says:

    Congratulations Joe, and thank-you for all of your hard work. I check this blog nearly every day to get the straight story on alternative energy and the environment. I’ve found no better introduction/analysis of these issues on the internet. And I gotta’ say, I like your no nonsense handling of those promulgating fact deficient beliefs. Keep up the great work.

  46. Charles says:

    Ditto what others have said, Joe. As an every-day reader, I find your blog a great source of climate info. Keep up the good work.

  47. Dean G. says:

    Congratulations, Joe! The recognition you win not only stirs family pride, but hope for the future. (And the picture is great!)

  48. Giove says:

    Congratulations. Your blog is very interesting, and really good information, thank you very much for your work.

  49. Arthur Smith says:

    Joe, congratulations, very well deserved!

  50. DrD says:

    When asked to list my favorite blog recently, my response was instantaneous: Climate Progress. Like others who commented above, I read it at least daily and sometimes twice a day. I refer friends and colleagues to it, though with the caveat that some things (e.g. Inhofe today)can be depressing. By the way, I recommend Paul Krugman’s two most recent columns. The word is spreading. Congratulations Dr. Romm.

  51. Dan K. says:

    Congrats! Well-deserved. Being compared to Jon Stewart is top notch in my book.


  52. Marie says:

    Thank you for your wonderful and informative blog. It’s the first blog I’ve ever read and it is a daily staple and a source of many emails to others now as well.

    What you are doing seems to me one of the highest and most effective forms of public service.

    Congratulations on your much-deserved recognition!

  53. Eric says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Romm! It’s inspiring that a blogger could earn such a distinguished award. I’ll just keep trying! ;-)

  54. Devin says:

    Congratulations! You are an inspiration.

  55. Svempa says:

    Hi Joe! I found a reference to your bet on another blog, and I would like to take it. In order not to impoverish you (and possibly your children) I will be satisfied to bet only USD 1000, which also should mean that I leave room for other takers.

    Do you have an escrow account set up? Due to my relatively advanced age (68) and some health issues I would also like to name an arbiter or caretaker, perhaps Anthony Watts of WUWT would be OK? So if I’m not here by 2019 I could be sure that my winnings go to whatever person or charity I will name.

  56. Dear Dott. Romm, I’m an Italian reader of Time magazine and from there I knew of your very interesting blog. I’m a blogger, too, at least I’d like to be, meaning it is difficult to find “new” news and to publish regularly updates (blog writing is not my first activity).
    Said that, I found your blog very very interesting and read here and there a lot of smart and istructive posts.
    I’m actually looking for a point: what is your position on nuclear energy ?
    I’m personally against installation of new nuclear plants (expecially in Italy, where we have none), more interested on green power generation (sun, wind, tides, geo-thermic, …).
    I was not able to find posts on nuclear power / plants in your blog: is there any ?
    Thanks a lot for what you do
    Best regards
    Fabio b.

  57. “I’m a little surprised this is the one [photo] they used but I certainly do sometimes blog with my daughter on my lap.”
    I’m not surprised– that’s a really cute photo!

  58. Jeff says:


    I read your blog multiple times each day. You give me hope. You deserve all the accolades. Thanks.

  59. Michele R. Moretti, Esq. says:

    Congratulations for the well-deserved recognition from Time Magazine. As I’ve said before, history will look back and see you as a hero. I’m glad you’re getting the well-deserved recognition prospectively, too.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  60. PONZ says: