Mario Molina: 2015 HIPGiver

Mario Molina, Nobel Prize-Winning Atmospheric Chemist Written by the HIP Mexico Team When Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, he was being recognized as a pioneer in the field of atmospheric chemistry. The Mexican chemist was one of the first to worry about the consequences of certain industrial gas emissions and their effect on Earth atmosphere’s protective ozone layer. His research on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) led to a landmark publication in 1974. The study essentially predicted that CFC emissions would deplete the ozone layer. Ten years later, scientists discovered a huge hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. During those 10 years, Molina and his research team published a series of articles that identified the chemical properties of compounds that play an essential role in the breakdown of the stratospheric ozone layer. Subsequently, they demonstrated in a laboratory the existence of a new class of chemical reactions that occur in the surface of ice particles, including those that are present in the atmosphere. They also proposed and demonstrated in the lab a new sequence of catalytic reactions that explain a major part of the destruction of the ozone in the polar stratosphere. Molina’s dedication to atmospheric research led to the 1989 United Nations Montreal Protocol, the first international agreement to effectively deal with a manmade environmental problem of global scale. Molina has dedicated his impressive career to much more than atmospheric chemistry. Today, through the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and Environment, an independent nonprofit created in 2004, he seeks practical, realistic and in-depth solutions to challenges related to environmental protection, the use of energy, the prevention of climate change and fostering sustainable development. The Center seeks to engage the population at large. “Scientists may depict problems that will affect the environment based on available evidence,” he said. “Their solution is not the responsibility of the scientist but of society as a whole.” The Center also addresses air quality, a serious problem in Mexico, by promoting public policies and cost-effective measures to cut air pollution that affects more than 30 million Mexican city dwellers. Molina’s strong desire to work with emerging scientists has inspired his various professorships at MIT, the Universidad Autónoma de México, the University of California, Irvine, and the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He also donated $200,000 of his Nobel Prize winnings to help young scientists around the world to do environmental research.
The 31 HIPGivers recognized in 2015 are collectively altering the landscape for our country. They are pushing the envelope by asking for more – more consideration, more awareness, more compassion, more action, more giving.