The son of a Mexican diplomat, you lived as a child both around the world and in the bathroom that you converted into a lab, having decided at a tender age to become a research chemist. Years later you were merely following that same scientific curiosity, you have said, when as a postdoc you discovered how benign-seeming chlorofluorocarbons, when released into the atmosphere and destroyed by the sun, release chlorine atoms that erode the layer of ozone that protects life on Earth. Your paper in the journal Nature met skepticism in the scientific community and beyond, but you persisted in raising the alarm with policymakers until the eventual detection of a dangerous hole in the layer. Within several years, international agreements were built to halt the release of CFCs, and the layer is now expected to recover completely by the middle of this century. For this insightful and heroic work you shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. You have been elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. National Academy of Science, and Mexico’s Academy of Sciences. And this story—of the scientific confirmation of a danger of human origin, a swift response by the international community, and a change in practice leading to environmental recovery—inspires the current effort to reverse climate change, the subject to which you have now turned your powerful curiosity.
I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Science, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 7, 2015