He left Scripps finally in 1963 and moved to Harvard University to establish a Center
for Population Studies. It was there that Revelle inspired one of his students to
become a major global warming activist. This student would say later, “It felt like
such a privilege to be able to hear about the readouts from some of those measurements
in a group of no more than a dozen undergraduates. Here was this teacher presenting
something not years old but fresh out of the lab, with profound implications for
our future!" The student described him as "a wonderful, visionary professor" who
was "one of the first people in the academic community to sound the alarm on global
warming," That student was Al Gore. He thought of Dr. Revelle as his mentor and referred
to him frequently, relaying his experiences as a student in his book Earth in the
Balance, published in 1992.
. . .
The man who had inspired Al Gore and given the UN the basic research it needed to
launch its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was having second thoughts.
In 1988 he wrote two cautionary letters to members of Congress. He wrote, “My own
personal belief is that we should wait another 10 or 20 years to really be convinced
that the greenhouse effect is going to be important for human beings, in both positive
and negative ways." He added, “…we should be careful not to arouse too much alarm
until the rate and amount of warming becomes clearer."
And in 1991 Revelle teamed up with Chauncey Starr, founding director of the Electric
Power Research Institute and Fred Singer, the first director of the U.S. Weather
Satellite Service, to write an article for Cosmos magazine. They urged more research
and begged scientists and governments not to move too fast to curb greenhouse CO2
emissions because the true impact of carbon dioxide was not at all certain and curbing
the use of fossil fuels could have a huge negative impact on the economy and jobs
and our standard of living.