Helmut Erich Landsberg (1906–1985) was a noted and influential climatologist. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany, February 9, 1906 and died December 6, 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland while attending a meeting of the World Meteorological Organization. Landsberg was an important figure in meteorology and atmospheric science in education, public service and administration. He authored several notable works, particularly in the field of particulate matter and its influence on air pollution and human health. He is the first to write in English about the use of statistical analysis in the field of climatology and implemented such statistical analysis in aiding military operations during World War II. He received a number of significant honors during his life. Several honors are now bestowed in his name in recognition of his contributions to his field.
One of the most notable detractors of the period was Helmut Landsberg, a much older world- renowned climatologist employed with the University of Maryland Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics in College Park, MD. Frustrated with what appeared to be an activist spirit motivating socially-aware scientists like Schneider, Landsberg believed that scientists who studied the climate should stay out of the spotlight given what he considered to be a myriad of scientific uncertainties about the causes of climatic change. Concerned about the credibility of climatology as a professional discipline given his own role in its maturation since the 1940s, Landsberg cast considerable doubt on the validity of relying on computer-based models to inform policy makers and the general public. Unless one could adequately quantify the scientific uncertainties that underlay scientific claims based on models, he believed that reticence was the only appropriate course of action until such uncertainties could be identified and resolved. Staying behind closed doors, cautiously hedging one’s claims by quantifying and emphasizing scientific uncertainty, and diligently collecting and analyzing data to resolve such uncertainties were hallmark characteristics of what he envisioned to be a professional atmospheric scientist.