I ran across this on the Red Lodge Clearing House newsletter…
Here’s a link to his comments.
Here’s what he said about science:
Use of science in planning.36 CFR §219.3.The proposed rules required the Forest Service to“take into account the best available scientific information throughout the planning process…”
Many,including me,suggested that it was not enough merely to take the best science into account,as if it were only one factor to be considered. The Forest Service apparently agreed and the final rules require the agency to “use” the best available science.
It’s discouraging to me that anyone could believe that “scientific information” is somehow hardwired to any decision. That’s the linear model of science in policy that no one in the science policy science community sees as accurate. I have noticed that lawyers often seem to believe in the linear model. The problem will be when a judge decides what “using” the “best scientific information” means. It won’t be a requirement, I don’t think, that the judges familiarize themselves with the science policy literature before making a judgment on the Forest Service’s adherence to this new regulatory standard.
As I’ve said before, it seems contradictory to write a regulation that requires the use of ” the best current scientific information,” but not to use the best scientific information from the science policy or science and technology studies literature in development of the regulatory standard for the use of science.
Scientific information, in reality, is only one factor to be considered in making decisions, as stated by Sir Peter Gluckman, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand here (I became aware of this due to a post from Roger Pielke, Jr., here.
We live in a democracy, and governments have the responsibility to integrate dimensions beyond that covered in this paper into policy formation, including societal values, public opinion, affordability and diplomatic considerations while accommodating political processes.
Here’s a longer quote from the paper.
It is important to separate as far as possible the role of expert knowledge generation and evaluation from the role of those charged with policy formation. Equally, it is important to distinguish clearly between the application of scientific advice for policy formation (‘science for policy’) and the formation of policy for the operation of the Crown’s science and innovation system, including funding allocation (‘policy for science’). This paper is concerned with the former. A purely technocratic model of policy formation is not appropriate in that knowledge is not, and cannot be, the sole determinant of how policy is developed. We live in a democracy, and governments have the responsibility to integrate dimensions beyond that covered in this paper into policy formation, including societal values, public opinion, affordability and diplomatic considerations while accommodating political processes.
Science in its classic linear model can offer direct guidance on many matters, but increasingly the nature of science itself is changing and it has to address issues of growing complexity and uncertainty in an environment where there is a plurality of legitimate social perspectives. In such situations, the interface between science and policy formation becomes more complex. Further, many decisions must be made in the absence of quality information, and research findings on matters of complexity can still leave large areas of uncertainty. In spite of this uncertainty, governments still must act. Many policy decisions can have uncertain downstream effects and on-going evaluation is needed to gauge whether such policies and initiatives should be sustained or revised. But, irrespective of these limitations, policy formed without consideration of the most relevant knowledge available is far less likely to serve the nation well.
Note that Sir Peter also uses the term “consideration.”
On the south shore of the picturesque Mono Lake is a collection of rock formations known as tufa. For thousands of centuries, the level of Mono Lake has fluctuated, with ancient lakeshores easily visible from commercial airliners. As the lake rises, more minerals cling to the existing structures, building them larger and taller. It really seems unlikely that the water levels will be rising, in the near future, even with the waters from Rush Creek being permanently sustained. There are just a few pocket glaciers left in the Sierra Nevada but, there were some very wet years in the 80′s which pushed water levels higher. This is a Forest Service site, which requires a fee or pass. Improvements include a nice boardwalk, bathrooms, a parking area and periodic road grading.
I stayed until well after sundown, capturing some dramatic shots. There were about another 30 photographers there, as well. It is a fragile place but, I haven’t seen much damage in the 30 years since I first saw it.
Over the past few months, this blog has explored some of the differences between the ways smaller, grassroots non-profit conservation organizations go about their campaigns compared with the actions taken (or not taken) by the largest, most well-funded conservation groups in America. We’ve covered this dynamic as it relates to logging, lawsuits and collaboration…but not how it impacts solar energy development on public lands.
This weekend, the LA Times took at how one smaller grassroots group – the Wildlands Conservancy – working their tails off to protect southern California’s Mojave Desert feels abandoned by many of the biggest, and best known, conservation groups in the country.
AMARGOSA VALLEY, Calif. — April Sall gazed out at the Mojave Desert flashing past the car window and unreeled a story of frustration and backroom dealings. Her small California group, the Wildlands Conservancy, wanted to preserve 600,000 acres of the Mojave. The group raised $45 million, bought the land and deeded it to the federal government.
The conservancy intended that the land be protected forever. Instead, 12 years after accepting the largest land gift in American history, the federal government is on the verge of opening 50,000 acres of that bequest to solar development. Even worse, in Sall’s view, the nation’s largest environmental organizations are scarcely voicing opposition. Their silence leaves the conservancy and a smattering of other small environmental organizations nearly alone in opposing energy development across 33,000 square miles of desert land.
“We got dragged into this because the big groups were standing on the sidelines and we were watching this big conservation legacy practically go under a bulldozer,” said Sall, the organization’s conservation director. “We said, ‘We can’t be silent anymore.’ “
Read the entire LA Times article here.