I was shocked when I read the news about my friend and colleague:
Alexander E. Farrell, an associate professor in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, who worked closely with state government over the past year to chart a course to reduce California’s carbon emissions, died earlier this week at his home in San Francisco. He was 46.
You can read the full obituary here. You can watch a video of him discussing the California low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which he helped develop, here. He was director of the UC Berkley Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and, as you can see, he was both passionate and analytical, eloquent and scientific.
I was doubly shocked when I found out that he “had taken his life,” as one of his recent coauthors, Michael O’Hare, blogged –
Yesterday everyone associated with the Energy and Resources Group gathered to try to make sense of it and we failed completely. The afternoon before he died he was emailing people about plug-in hybrid batteries. No-one saw it coming, no-one remembered a conversation or a hint that he was in despair or depressed about anything.
I certainly did not see it coming. Sure, this can be a tough field to work in — coming to grips with humanity’s apparent disregard for the health and well-being of future generations. But I mostly heard a lot of optimism from him, since he was a leader on analyzing solutions and providing serious policies in the one state in this country that is taking climate as seriously as it deserves.
I have known Alex for many years, since June 2003, in fact, when he coauthored an article for Science, “Rethinking Hydrogen Cars,” (subs. req’d), and I emailed him, since I was researching a book at the time. He was superb at quantifying the difficult to quantify, and I cited him in my 2004 book as follows: