More than a decade ago, a woman at a bar near the Columbia University campus turned to Gavin Schmidt and asked if he knew the main component of air. “Yes, nitrogen,” he replied. His answer lost her a bet about whether the average stranger at the bar would know anything about atmospheric chemistry. Two years later, they were married.

Sometimes the nerds win.

Today Dr. Schmidt is one of the most prominent scientists warning the world about the risks of a warming world. Recently he was named to a newly created position as senior climate adviser to NASA, a job that comes with the challenge of bringing NASA’s climate science to the public and helping figure out how to apply it to saving the planet.

Dr. Schmidt, who since 2014 had headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will be working with an administration that is making the fight against climate change one of its priorities. The Biden team is adding positions throughout the government for policymakers and experts like Dr. Schmidt who understand the threats facing our planet.

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