Mario J. Molina | Wikipedia audio article


Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez (born
March 19, 1943) is a Mexican-born American chemist known for his pivotal role in the
discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. He was a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize
in Chemistry for his role in elucidating the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer of chlorofluorocarbon
gases (or CFCs). He became the first Mexican-born citizen to
ever receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.In 2004 Molina accepted the positions of professor
at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at
the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Molina is also Director of the Mario Molina
Center for Energy and Environment in Mexico City. Molina is a climate policy adviser to President
of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.==Biography==
Molina is the son of Roberto Molina-Pasquel, a lawyer and judge who went on to serve as
chief Ambassador to Ethiopia, Australia and the Philippines in 1923, and Leonor Henríquez. As a child he converted a bathroom into his
own little laboratory, using toy microscopes and chemistry sets. He looked up to his aunt Esther Molina, who
was a chemist, and who helped him with his experiments.After completing his basic studies
in Mexico City and at the Institut auf dem Rosenberg in Switzerland he earned a bachelor’s
degree in chemical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in
1965. In 1967 he earned his postgraduate degree
in polymerization kinetics at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, West Germany, and
in 1972 a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, working
with George Pimentel. Molina married chemist Luisa Y. Tan in July 1973. They moved to Irvine, California that fall.In
1974, as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Irvine, he and Rowland co-authored
a paper in the journal Nature highlighting the threat of CFCs to the ozone layer in the
stratosphere. At the time, CFCs were widely used as chemical
propellants and refrigerants. Molina and Rowland followed up the short Nature
paper with a 150-page report for the AEC, which they made available at the September
1974 meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlantic City. This report and an ACS-organized press conference,
in which they called for a complete ban on further releases of CFCs into the atmosphere,
brought national attention.Rowland and Molina’s findings were disputed by commercial manufacturers
and chemical industry groups, and a public consensus on the need for action only began
to emerge in 1976 with the publication of a review of the science by the National Academy
of Sciences. Rowland and Molina’s work was further supported
by evidence of the long-term decrease in stratospheric ozone over Antarctica, published by Joseph
C. Farman and his co-authors in Nature in 1985. Ongoing work led to the adoption of the Montreal
Protocol (an agreement to cut CFC production and use) by 56 countries in 1987, and to further
steps towards the worldwide elimination of CFCs from aerosol cans and refrigerators. It is for this work that Molina later shared
the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Molina was one of twenty-two Nobel Laureates
who signed the third Humanist Manifesto in 2003.Between 1974 and 2004 Molina variously
held research and teaching posts at University of California, Irvine, the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory at Caltech, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he held
a joint appointment in the Department of Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the
Department of Chemistry. On July 1, 2004 Molina joined the Department
of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California, San Diego and the Center for
Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In addition he established a non-profit organization,
which opened the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment (Centro
Mario Molina para Estudios Estratégicos sobre Energía y Medio Ambiente) in Mexico City
in 2005. Mario Molina serves as its director.Molina
served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science
& the Public, from 2000-2005. He also served on the board of directors of
the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2004-2014), and as a member of the MacArthur
Foundation’s Institutional Policy Committee and its Committee on Global Security and Sustainability.Molina
was nominated to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as of July 24, 2000. He served as a co-chair of the Vatican workshop
and report Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the
Planet from Extreme Climate Change (2017) with Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Durwood Zaelke. The report proposed 12 scalable and practical
solutions which are part of a three-lever cooling strategy to mitigate climate change.Molina
was named by U.S. President Barack Obama to form a transition team on environmental issues
in 2008. Under President Obama, he was a member of
the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.Molina and his first
wife, Luisa T. Molina, are divorced. Luisa Tan Molina is the lead scientist of
the Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment in La Jolla, California. Their son works as a physician in Boston. Mario Molina married his second wife, Guadalupe
Álvarez, in February 2006.==His discovery==
Mario Molina joined the lab of Professor F. Sherwood Rowland in 1973 as a postdoctoral
fellow. Here, Molina continued Rowland’s pioneering
research into “hot atom” chemistry, which is the study of chemical properties of atoms
with, and only with, excess translational energy owing to radioactive processes.This
study soon led to research into chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), apparently harmless gases that were
used in refrigerants, aerosol sprays, and the making of plastic foams. CFCs were being released by human activity
and were known to be accumulating in the atmosphere. The basic scientific question Molina asked
was “What is the consequence of society releasing something to the environment that wasn’t
there before?”Rowland and Molina had investigated compounds similar to CFCs before. Together they developed the CFC ozone depletion
theory, by combining basic scientific knowledge about the chemistry of ozone, CFCs and atmospheric
conditions with computer modelling. First Molina tried to figure out how CFCs
could be decomposed. At lower levels of the atmosphere, they were
inert. Molina realized that if CFCs released into
the atmosphere do not decay by other processes, they will continually rise to higher altitudes. Higher in the atmosphere, different conditions
apply. The highest levels of the stratosphere are
exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light. A thin layer of ozone floating high in the
stratosphere protects lower levels of the atmosphere from that type of radiation.Molina
theorized that photons from ultraviolet light, known to break down oxygen molecules, could
also break down CFCs, releasing a number of products including chlorine atoms into the
stratosphere. Chlorine atoms (Cl) are radicals: they have
an unpaired electron and are very reactive. Chlorine atoms react easily with ozone molecules
(O3), removing one oxygen atom to leave O2 and chlorine monoxide (ClO). Cl· + O3 → ClO· + O2ClO is also a radical, which reacts with
ozone to release two O2 molecules and a Cl atom. The radical Cl atom is not consumed in these
reactions, so it remains in the system. ClO· + O· → Cl· + O2Molina and Rowland predicted that chlorine
atoms, produced by this decomposition of CFCs, would act as an ongoing catalyst for the destruction
of ozone. When they calculated the amounts involved
they realized that CFCs could start a seriously damaging chain reaction to the ozone layer
in the stratosphere.Rowland and Molina published their findings in Nature on June 28, 1974,
and also made an effort to announce their findings outside of the scientific community,
informing policy makers and the news media of their work. As a result of their work, laws were established
to protect the ozone layer by regulating the use of CFCs.==Honors==Mario Molina has received numerous awards
and honors, including sharing the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen and
F. Sherwood Rowland for their discovery of the role of CFCs in ozone depletion.Molina
was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993. He was elected to the United States Institute
of Medicine in 1996, and The National College of Mexico in 2003. He is also a member of the Mexican Academy
of Sciences. Molina is a fellow of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science and co-chaired the 2014 AAAS Climate Science Panel, What
We Know: The reality, risks and response to climate change.Molina won the 1987 Esselen
Award of the Northeast section of the American Chemical Society, the 1988 Newcomb Cleveland
Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the 1989 NASA Medal
for Exceptional Scientific Advancement and the 1989 United Nations Environmental Programme
Global 500 Award. In 1990, The Pew Charitable Trusts Scholars
Program in Conservation and the Environment honored him as one of ten environmental scientists
and awarded him a $150,000 grant. He received the 1998 Willard Gibbs Award from
the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society and the 1998 American Chemical Society
Prize for Creative Advances in Environment Technology and Science. In 2003, Molina received the 9th Annual Heinz
Award in the Environment. Asteroid 9680 Molina is named in his honor.On
August 8, 2013, President Barack Obama announced Molina as a recipient of the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, citing in the press release: Mario Molina is a visionary chemist and environmental
scientist. Born in Mexico, Dr. Molina came to America
to pursue his graduate degree. He later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer. Dr. Molina is a professor at the University
of California, San Diego; Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment;
and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.===Honorary degrees===
Mario Molina has received more than thirty honorary degrees. Yale University (1997)
Tufts University (2003) Duke University (2009)
Harvard University (2012) Mexican Federal Universities: National of
Mexico (1996), Metropolitana (2004), Chapingo (2007), National Polytechnic (2009)
Mexican State Universities: Hidalgo (2002), State of Mexico (2006), Michoacan (2009),
Guadalajara (2010), San Luis Potosí (2011) U.S. Universities: Miami (2001), Florida International
(2002), Southern Florida (2005), Claremont Graduate (announced 2013)
U.S. Colleges: Connecticut (1998), Trinity (2001), Washington (2011), Whittier (2012),
Williams (2015) Canadian Universities: Calgary (1997), Waterloo
(2002), British Columbia (2011) European Universities: East Anglia (1996),
Alfonso X (2009), Complutense of Madrid (2012), Free of Brussels (2010),==Bibliography==
Technical Reports: Molina, Luisa T., Molina, Mario J. and Renyi
Zhang. “Laboratory Investigation of Organic Aerosol
Formation from Aromatic Hydrocarbons,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States
Department of Energy, (August 2006). Molina, Luisa T., Molina, Mario J., et al. “Characterization of Fine Particulate Matter
(PM) and Secondary PM Precursor Gases in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area,” Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), United States Department of Energy, (October 2008

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