Jane Lubchenco is a Professor at Oregon State University, and was administrator of the U.S. NOAA from 2009 through 2013, the U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean at the State Department from 2014 to 2016, and the president of the Ecological Society of America from 1992 to 1993. She recently wrote about her current perspectives on environmental science. Here are excerpts.
… Just when, thanks in part to US leadership, the world finally began to make tangible progress in addressing climate change, the US elected a President who labeled climate change a hoax and whose Cabinet nominees leave little doubt that climate denial will continue. Equally problematic are the blatant disregard of facts and lack of respect for others and for civil discourse that were painfully evident in the US elections and around the world. So pervasive was the dismissal of “truth” that the Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” as the 2016 “Word of the Year”, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”
[T]ake heart! I believe we can rise to this occasion with the boldness, energy, and creativity it demands. Not in a knee-jerk fashion, but one that responds to some of the underlying causes of our current dilemma. We must engage more vigorously with society to address the intertwined environmental and social problems that many have ignored, to find solutions, and to help create a better world. We must truly listen to and address the reasons why a post-truth world has emerged.But we cannot do so from lofty perches above society; we must be more integrated into society. It is no longer sufficient for scientists in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or industry to conduct business as usual. Today’s challenges demand an all-hands-on-deck approach wherein scientists serve society in a fashion that responds to societal needs and is embedded in everyday lives. Humility, transparency, and respect must characterize our interactions.
Dan Kammen of U.C. Berkeley says more along these lines: