Appointment: Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology
Area of study: Astrobiology, Planetary Science
Affiliation(s): Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Kluge Center project: The Anthropocene
Residency: November 2012 – December 2014
Dr. David Grinspoon held the inaugural Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology from 2012-2013, and continued his residency as a distinguished visiting scholar in 2014. A well-known researcher in planetary science, author of “Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life,” and former curator of astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Grinspoon's research examined the human history of the earth and the choices facing humanity in the Anthropocene Era.
Grinspoon researched the Anthropocene Era from an astrobiological perspective. The Anthropocene is the name given by some scientists to the era in the Earth’s history wherein humans are the key drivers of geological and climatic change. The controversial topic involves issues of climate change, evolution and the future of human civilization on the planet. Grinspoon’s work added the perspective of astrobiology to the Anthropocene debate, examining the changes to the earth throughout its history from interplanetary perspective, comparing it to the histories of other planets to determine what may be new and different, and asking if that perspective illuminated choices in how human beings manage the planet going forward.
Grinspoon participated in numerous programs and interdisciplinary conversations at the Kluge Center on the Anthropocene, convening astrobiologists, historians, literary scholars, journalists and scientists to discuss the role of human interactions with the planet and the consequences for civilization. Beyond the Kluge Center, Grinspoon played an enormous role as an ambassador for astrobiology. He met with Members of Congress; delivered several high-profile lectures; appeared in dozens of media outlets including The New York Times, The New Yorker Elements, Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, and Astrobiology Magazine; and hosting a day-long symposium on the longevity of human civilization featuring scientists, scholars, science fiction authors, and journalists with remarks by U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
From childhood through his early career, Grinspoon had a long association with Carl Sagan as friend, teacher, and mentor. (Read about their relationship here.) In 2006, Grinspoon received the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication from the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. Grinspoon delieverd the 2013 Carl Sagan Lecture at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting.
- “Kinship and Scholarship: A Librarian and Scholar Find Books and Each Other” (Insights blog, Dec. 12, 2014)
- “Carl Sagan, Imagination, Science, and Mentorship: An interview with David Grinspoon” (Inside Adams blog, Mar. 5, 2014)
- “Shaping the Future of the Earth: From Inside the Library of Congress” (Library of Congress Gazette, Nov. 1, 2013)
- “Perspectives on the Environment” (Library of Congress blog, Apr. 22, 2013)
- “Inquiring Minds: An Interview with Astrobiologist David H. Grinspoon” (Library of Congress blog, Nov. 29, 2012)
- “The Myth of Wilderness: What's Left to Save and What Never Existed” (Jun. 5, 2014)
- “Searching for Life in the Universe: What Does it Mean for Humanity” (Jan. 28, 2014)
- “Terra Sapiens: The Human Chapter in the History of Earth” (Oct. 31, 2013)
- “The Nature of Nature: What Should We Choose to Save?” - part 1 of the Symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization (Sept. 12, 2013)
- “Seeing What's in Store: The Future in the Literary and Scientific Imagination” - part 2 of the Symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization (Sept. 12, 2013)
- “Living with Ourselves: Can We Form a Healthy, Stable, Long-term Relationship with Technology and the Biosphere?” - part 3 of the Symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization (Sept. 12, 2013)
- “Concluding Thoughts” - part 4 of the Symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization (Sept. 12, 2013)
- “The Evolving Moral Landscape: Perspectives on the Environment, Literary, Historical and Interplanetary” (Feb. 28, 2013)
- David Grinspoon Begins as NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology (Oct. 24, 2012)
- David Grinspoon Named First Chair in Astrobiology at Kluge Center (Apr. 16, 2012)
- “Terra Sapiens: Planetary Changes of the Fourth Kind” (TedX Talk, Oct. 1, 2014)
- “The Anthropocene: Humankind as a Turning Point for Earth” (Astrobiology Magazine: Jun. 24, 2013)