The Ecological Society of America strongly condemns the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to cancel the presentations of three ecologists in Rhode Island at an event to launch the 2017 State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed Summary Report that underwent extensive peer review and a public comment process. The report addresses many topics including management of climate change impacts to human and natural systems.
“Stifling ecologists who have valid research to inform management decisions affecting those living and working in the watershed is unconscionable and serves no one,” said Katherine McCarter, executive director, Ecological Society of America.
Scientific research – and the free exchange of scientific knowledge, ideas, and data – must be valued and protected. Scientists, including scientists serving in the federal government, must be able to freely conduct their research, communicate their findings, publish their work, and ensure the accuracy of scientific information without fear of retaliation or restriction.
ESA and its members are committed to the integrity and availability of scientific research and we believe in the critical importance of the unrestricted sharing of scientific data and findings. Objective scientific findings play a crucial role in addressing a wide range of domestic and international challenges. Scientific knowledge is a critical element of decision-making, and unbiased scientific research is used to inform policies that serve the public interest. Without scientific integrity and independence, our nation will lose the benefits that science provides to the economy, policymaking, technological innovation, and society.
…Former NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis signed the order — formally known as Director’s Order No. 100, or DO 100 for short — on Dec. 20, 2016, as one of the last acts of his tenure as director (E&E News PM, Dec. 20, 2016)…
…The order called for park managers to make decisions based “on science, law and long-term public interest.” And it said that park superintendents and other NPS leaders had to “possess scientific literacy appropriate to their positions and resource management decision-making responsibilities.”
Jeremy Barnum, an NPS spokesman, said the order was rescinded by acting Director Michael Reynolds on Aug. 16 “to eliminate confusion among the public and NPS employees regarding current NPS policy in light of the Department of the Interior’s new vision for the long-term protection of America’s unparalleled national parks.”…
‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming with revenue from the state’s cap and trade program
California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now… scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
The initiative, which is backed by California’s flagship universities, is in the early stages of development. If it succeeds, it will represent one of the largest US investments in climate research in years. The nascent ‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming.
The project could be funded by revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade programme to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but its political prospects are unclear. Advocates say they have received a warm reception from California Governor Jerry Brown, but a spokesperson for Brown would say only that “discussions are ongoing”. The proposal must also clear the state legislature….
But the California initiative still faces significant challenges. Severin Borenstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, warns that academics will face plenty of competition for a limited pool of cap-and-trade revenue…..Nonetheless, Borenstein favours the climate initiative, because he sees global warming as an issue on which California can have a truly global impact.
“The main way California can contribute to dealing with climate change is through innovation,” he says. “We can invent and test the technologies and processes that will allow the rest of the world to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.”
NOTE FROM ELLIE: This Guardian story I originally posted was strongly refuted by the Acting Chief of the NRCS in an email in support of science and climate change action. Here is the text:
From: Jordan, Leonard – NRCS, Washington, DC Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2017 1:07 PM To: Jordan, Leonard – NRCS, Washington, DC <Leonard.Jordan@wdc.usda.gov> Subject: Climate change story
As you’ve likely seen, there has been considerable news coverage during the past two days centered around two emails that discuss the use of the phrase “climate change.” The articles allege that NRCS has received direction and has provided direction to censor the use of the phrase “climate change.”
I want you all to know that this is not the case. There has never been a directive from the administration regarding the use of the phrase climate change, or any other language. There is nothing stopping you from communicating to your customers using the terminology that you see as most beneficial for getting conservation on the ground. The Department and NRCS are fact-based, science-driven, and customer-focused, and nothing about who we are or what we do has changed.
The climate change websites for both USDA and NRCS remain active. We work each day to help agricultural producers plan and implement conservation practices that sequester carbon and benefit our natural resources, enabling producers to improve their bottom line while rising to the challenge of today. With partners like Colorado State University, we’re able to offer tools like COMET-Farm, an accounting system for greenhouse gases on agricultural lands. Our Conservation Innovation Grants program continues to empower partner organizations and producers to develop cutting-edge approaches and technologies that support greenhouse gases, cleaner water and air, healthier soil and development of conservation finance systems. And this is just the beginning.
We remain committed to empowering you to do what you do best, whether you’re a district conservationist or a snow surveyor, or a biologist or a conservation technician. Our team provides one-on-one, personalized advice on the best solutions to meet the unique conservation and business goals of those who grow our nation’s food and fiber. We help people make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture, and improve the health of our air, water, soil, and habitat. And we generate, manage and share the data, technology and standards that enable partners and policymakers to make decisions informed by objective, reliable science.
Nothing is going to keep us from carrying out our mission.
This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.
A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.
Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans
Scientists fear Administration will dismiss or suppress the most comprehensive climate report
The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.
WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.
The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. A copy of it was obtained by The New York Times.
The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air. “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.
The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.
One government scientist who worked on the report, Katharine Hayhoe, a professor of political science at Texas Tech University, called the conclusions among “the most comprehensive climate science reports” to be published. Another scientist involved in the process, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed….
Issues in Science and Technology Volume XXXIII Issue 3, Spring 2017
by Clark A. Miller Full article here
…Science is, for today’s conservatives, an instrument of federal power. They attack science’s forms of truth-making, its databases, and its budgets not out of a rejection of either science or truth, but as part of a coherent strategy to weaken the power of the federal agencies that rely on them….Over the course of the twentieth century, the prominence of experts in legitimizing federal government power have persisted and deepened. ..
…Given this history, it should hardly surprise us that the major environmental controversy of the past quarter-century has largely played out as a battle over science. Climate change is a phenomenon knowable only through science…
…It is not an accident that “experts” have become the enemy of those who feel left behind in the United States and Europe. The twentieth century’s most powerful forms of government have been built on the backs of experts. When that trend began, experts provided a powerful service for democratic publics, helping to create new government agencies that could balance the power of the massive new business organizations created by industrialization. Science and expertise created the appearance of taking issues out of the realms of politics and onto more neutral terrain. The recognition that this was largely illusion—and that politics remained central to the exercise of science-based government—took a while to register. Today is a different world. Authorized and powered by science, data, and expertise, the US federal government is now arguably the most powerful institution on the planet….
…Science, business, and government have together made the modern world what it is. All three must step up to ensure that future societies are worth inhabiting—and they must do so in concert with global publics. None of the three can any longer pretend that they stand outside politics. Democracy depends on it. So does the future our children will inherit.
Yale Climate Connections analyzed 66 answers describing the motivation behind the conversion. The biggest reason was a slow acceptance of clear scientific evidence [then risk of environmental damage, erratic weather and climate deniers’ lack of credibility]…..
…Seeing graphs of atmospheric carbon dioxde and overwhelming data supporting the conclusion that humans are rapidly, catastrophically warming the planet was convincing for many.…The desire to safeguard the Earth, evidence of extreme weather, and dubious sources among climate change deniers sealed the deal for most of the rest.
But why did people reject climate change in the first place? Family was the most common reason. “Mostly because my family rigorously shot it down whenever it was remotely mentioned,” one person wrote… But personal politics and identity were a close second (and are cited as top reasons in other studies)…
…people tend to reject the validity of scientific evidence when it conflicts with their deeply held world-views. Instead, suggests Kahan in Mother Jones, present information in ways that already align with people’s beliefs without triggering emotional, defensive responses.
Kahan tested this concept by showing people of various viewpoints two fake newspaper articles: “Scientific Panel Recommends Anti-Pollution Solution to Global Warming” and “Scientific Panel Recommends Nuclear Solution to Global Warming.” For conservative individuals (” hierarchical individualists” in the study) who doubted climate change, the second article was far more effective at convincing them that humans caused global warming. Kahan suspects this is because the science was presented in an existing pro-industry narrative.
…Following Australia’s first budget under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Australia similarly saw climate change shifted off the agenda. Its impact on the aid budget saw climate change downplayed as a priority, with terms trickling into programs associated with natural disasters, food security and agriculture.
For Pacific Island countries, climate adaption can include preparing for theincreasing onset of natural disasters by building infrastructure, response systems and strategies. It can also include preparing communities with health-related training and equipment to save lives following a natural disaster.
The concern of not investing in these program is that unprepared communities will see loss of life and more money will be required to help them to recover. These are important programs to continue.
By reframing climate adaptation programs as disaster resilience programs, the conversation can change to responding to natural disasters in a cheaper and more effective manner — before the disaster hits and large sums of money are required as part of a humanitarian response.
From clean energy and low emissions to economical living
An important component of the aid program is clean energy projects focused on delivering solar and renewable power, services, and technology to people living in remote and rural communities.
A key factor in the success of these programs is not only their ability to deliver green solutions, but their approach to delivering critical infrastructure without building large systems delivering to entire regions or countries.
And they are important in building agricultural capability, empowering women, creating strong economies and building future trading partners.
The economic feasibility of these programs may be an important factor in maintaining them in the long and short term.
From climate science to knowledge sharing
While there will never be a replacement for direct funds to countries, adjusting scientific programs that encourage knowledge sharing could reduce program budgets while building capacity in developing countries.
Monitoring carbon emissions, mapping forests and monitoring changes to flora and fauna requires specialized knowledge that should exist within a developing country for sustainability of a program.
It is not only financially beneficial but can create ongoing mentoring networks maintained after programs end.
A focus on food security and building agriculture markets
The ability to feed future populations is directly linked to farming communities adapting to changing climate and environmental conditions. But if we keep climate out of it, we can focus purely on the ability to deliver new approaches and measures to generate higher yield from crops and produce nutritious options to prevent a range of diseases, including those associated with obesity.
Increasing yield and the quality of outputs not only improves the ability to feed global populations, it builds agricultural markets and stronger economies in developing countries.
Food security programs, meanwhile, not only secure future food needs of developing countries, but also of Americans.
Point Blue supports its staff in advocating for science and attending the March for Science, April 22, 2017
March 10, 2017 by Ellie Cohen
Recent efforts to silence government scientists and decimate research budgets, particularly around climate change, are deeply disturbing. These attacks raise serious questions about the role of scientists in a democracy. Should scientists advocate for science? Or by doing so, do they add to fuel to the fire of partisan politics and weaken public support for science?
There is a growing movement to speak out within the science community. A recent march in Boston drew thousands with placards including Science not Silence, Science Does Not Discriminate, and Facts Matter. The next focal point is the “March for Science” in Washington, DC and across the country, on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. It is endorsed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ecological Society of America, among others.
Science is inherently non-partisan, built on systematic, transparent and peer-reviewed inquiry, observation and evidence. In that light, I believe scientists should advocate for science and scientific findings. However, there is an enormous divide between how most scientists view the world versus the general public. Scientists need to significantly improve how we communicate what we do and the value of our work to society.
The March is an opportunity to instruct and catalyze scientists to reach out across the political and social spectrum. Just as science builds bridges across cultural divides in ways that few other disciplines can, the March for Science offers an opportunity for cross-boundary community-building. It is a chance to tell our stories about how science drives human understanding, economic innovation and our collective well-being.
The March also provides a platform to communicate the foundational nature of science to a healthy, vibrant democracy. We need to share how science helps humanity discover and illuminate truths upon which policy makers can act to better the lives of the people they serve.
It seems to me that advocating for science is especially urgent today in the face of accelerating climate change and the loss of ecosystem services which threaten life as we know it.
Along the lines of Rabbi Hillel’s sage words from 2,000 years ago, if scientists don’t stand up for science, who will? And what better time than now?