Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Local scientists weigh in on Earth Day marches

Published:Thursday | May 4, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Supporters gather to listen to speakers after marching in support of science, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Pullman, Wash. People around the globe have turned out in huge numbers to celebrate Earth Day and support scientific research and funding. Rallies in more than 600 cities put scientists alongside advocates of politics-free scientific pursuits.
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Play from the local scientific community have given the nod to the recent science marches, staged globally for Earth Day 2017.

The April 22 marches, they say, have helped to draw attention to valuing research, particularly in the struggle to build resilience to climate change.

For Dr Orville Grey, who has responsibility for adaptation in the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, they also demonstrate the shift in the modus operandi of scientists who now increasingly engage with policymakers and other stakeholders on their work.

"We have seen a time when scientists only spoke to scientists. There is now dialogue between scientists and policymakers, including politicians. We look at the scientific reports coming out and one of the things you recognise is that the volumes coming out now include a summary for policymakers," said the man whose PhD is in environmental biology with a focus on climate change.

"There is a need to bridge the gap between the scientists and policymakers, including politicians, to ensure there is greater awareness and understanding and that the policies that are being presented are based on the best available science and as such that decisions are informed," added the University of the West Indies and Northern Caribbean University part-time lecturer.

Professor Michael Taylor, head of the Mona Climate Studies Group Mona, said simply: "They were a good thing to bring attention to science and its importance in development."

Meteorologist and long-time climate change negotiator for Jamaica Clifford Mahlung said the marches would perhaps have been especially instructive for the United States.

"The whole notion of climate change is based on scientific evidence. There were large turnouts in the US and I think that is where the message should be sent," he told The Gleaner.

The Guardian, in an Earth Day-published report on the marches, reveals that they had seen the participation of "climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science" from around the world whose intent was "to bolster scientists' increasingly precarious status with politicians".

 

SCIENCE CRITICAL

 

On that list of politicians is US President Donald Trump, whose Earth Day message nonetheless declared support for science.

"Rigorous science is critical to my Administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection," he said in the statement published on the White House website.

"My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate," he added.

The president's statement comes in the wake of his executive order, signed in March, which rolls back a number of policies that had been put in place by former president Barack Obama to counter climate change. They reportedly include the Clean Power Plan and the repeal of guidance for factoring climate change into National Environmental Policy Act reviews.

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