How is a good ecologist to react to the new administration in Washington?

Letter to Ecological Society of America Membership from President David M. Lodge

March 6, 2017  Like many of you, I have found it hard to know how to react to the style, tone, and substance of the new administration in Washington….Unfortunately, the absence of science and scientists in the Trump administration has not changed. Likewise, Trump’s actions on environmental policy have been consistent with all earlier indications….So how should we – the 10,000 members of ESA – react?

…Please see, for example, ESA’s letter on scientific integrity and joint letters on the immigration ban, the importance of a president’s science advisor appointment, the Waters of the US rule, and more that are found online. …While I recognize that a diversity of views is likely to exist among ESA members, I hope that many of you will find these reflections useful as you consider how to react as individual members of ESA. I also recommend ESA Past-president Jane Lubchenco’s recent commentary on “Environmental science in a post-truth world,” in Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment.

First, what binds ESA members together is our respect for science, commitment to rigorous peer review and publication of research, and a desire to see our science interpreted and used appropriately. We must continue to advocate – more strongly than ever – that representatives of science and rigorous scientific analysis are essential to policy-making. Call, write, and visit your local, state, and national representatives and your senators. Consider participating in or otherwise supporting April’s March for Science.

Second, we must not allow ourselves to be arrogant or make it easy for others to perceive us that way.  Science must be at the policy-making table, but in a democracy, many diverse considerations belong at the decision-making table. We must be more aggressive promoters of science, but we must simultaneously be humble in recognition that our unique role is not solely important….

Third, we must seek to understand and engage respectfully with our family members, neighbors, and other fellow citizens at work, on the street, and in community groups who share President Trump’s enthusiasm for reversing environmental regulations….Double-down on your engagement in outreach and education.

Fourth, we must remind our elected officials at all levels and our fellow citizens that the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Montreal Protocol have dramatically improved human health and well-being in the last 45 years. Los Angeles, Gary, IN and New York City were not healthy places to breath and swim in 1970. In Cleveland, the oily pollution floating on the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Acid rain had wiped out the fish in many Adirondack lakes. Bald eagles and brown pelicans were on the verge of extinction. An ozone hole was growing over Antarctica and increasing skin cancer in humans. Scientific research provided the diagnoses of these problems and informed the solutions….
Finally, we must alert our fellow citizens that science and technology are already driving economic booms in other countries…
….The staff and leadership of ESA will stay the course for science, speaking with both confidence in the rigor and value of our mission, and with humility as only one important voice in our robust democracy. We have waited, and now it is time for ESA to be seen and be heard. I encourage each member of ESA to do the same.