1 September 2008

This post has nothing to do with The Beagle Project

...but I can't help it. My heart is going out to the two million people who are evacuating from New Orleans ahead of Gustav's landfall:

Hurricane Gustav, now. Source: NOAA

But you know, now that I think about it, this does have something to do with the Beagle Project. Two somethings, actually:
  1. See, if the outgoing US administration valued the (unpoliticised) advice of scientists more, they might have prepared better for Katrina and now for Gustav. One of the aims of the Beagle Project is to increase scientific literacy (I think much more important than increasing the number of young people who enter science), and the primacy of scientifically sound advice in government decision-making, not only with regard to hurricane prediction and preparedness, but also on issues ranging from energy to stem cells, from research to education. Please visit the Union of Concerned Scientists for more information on the many links between science and policy.
  2. Though it's not correct to blame any single storm, drought, flood, ice shelf collapse or extinction event on climate change, it is correct to blame increases (and in some specific cases decreases) in their intensity an frequency as a whole on climate change.* And hurricanes, with their terrifying power and high news profile, are symbolic of that whole. The Beagle Project will provide an eye-catching platform for current climate change research and in doing so will raise awareness about its present and future impacts on people and on biodiversity (Darwin's "endless forms most wonderful and most beautiful").
*This is not my personal opinion. It is a statement based on a massive collection of overwhelmingly convincing scientific research results. A good place to start is NCAR's "What happens when climate changes?", a link I got from the excellent blog Real Climate.

1 comment:

bio said...

Next challenge Karen - work out how supporting the beagle project will provide an antidote to contemplating fearfully Sarah Paulin's awful environmental record.