Thursday, March 19, 2015

Words of Wisdom From Dr. Bill Hooke

Bill Hooke and I have been friends for literally decades. He is one of the wisest men in atmospheric science. 
The world’s 7 billion people currently struggle to solve a high-stakes, threefold problem: satisfy a growing appetite for food, energy, water, and other resources; protect the environment; and build resilience to natural extremes. In the face of this defining challenge, our geosciences community, although well-meaning and with much to offer, too often gives the impression that we care primarily about more funding for our research.
Such overt self-interest is not merely unseemly. It poses risks to our community and to society writ large...
Stresses over the past decade or so have frayed the fabric of the social contract between scientists and society. The complexity and costs of science have been growing. Urgent societal challenges (in education, environmental protection, foreign relations, maintenance of aging critical infrastructure, national security, public health, and more) demand quick fixes even as they compete with the funding for science. Society has asked scientists for more help, even as research budgets have remained relatively constant. Relations have been strained on both sides.
How have we faced these new stresses? Unfortunately, many scientists have responded by resorting to advocacy. Worse, we’ve too often dumbed down our lobbying until it’s little more than simplistic, orchestrated, self-serving pleas for increased research funding, accompanied at times by the merest smidgen of supporting argument.
At the same time, particularly in Earth OSS, as we’ve observed and studied emerging natural resource shortages, environmental degradation, and vulnerability to hazards, we’ve allowed ourselves to turn into scolds. Worse, we’ve chosen sides politically, largely abandoning any pretense at nonpartisanship...
To a beset, struggling general public this can easily look unhelpful, even arrogant.

Agree with every word Bill has, so eloquently, written. Please read the entire article.

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