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If Only

If only all of science were this honest. Greenwire:

The scientists had read Kareiva’s recent essay, which takes environmentalists to task. The data couldn’t bear out their piety, he wrote. Nature is often resilient, not fragile. There is no wilderness unspoiled by man. Thoreau was a townie. Conservation, by many measures, is failing. If it is to survive, it has to change.

How could this be coming from the Nature Conservancy?

“We love the horror story,” Kareiva said. He was dressed in New Balance running shoes, a purple sweater and rumpled tan trousers. “We just love it. The environmental movement has loved it. That, I think, is … [a] strategy failure. And it’s actually not supported by science.”

This is not some vague hypothesis, he added to murmurs. He’s seen it in the data.

“The message [has been that] humans degrade and destroy and really crucify the natural environment, and woe is me,” he said. “The reality is humans degrade and destroy and crucify the natural environment — and 80 percent of the time it recovers pretty well, and 20 percent of the time it doesn’t.”

One of the visitors, Lisa Hayward, an ecologist working on invasive-species policy at the U.S. Geological Survey, spoke up. How can that be so? “I feel that does not represent the consensus of the ecological community,” she said.

“I’m certain that it doesn’t represent the consensus of the ecological community,” Kareiva shot back, with a smile and flash in his eyes. A circle of nervous laughter swayed around the room. “I’m absolutely certain of that! Wait two years.”

Kareiva has never feared following the data, or dragging others with him. Already a respected ecologist, for the past decade he has shoved the Nature Conservancy toward a new environmentalism. The old ways aren’t working. Inch by inch, for better or worse, conservation must, he says, enter the Anthropocene Epoch — the Age of Man.

It’s all about the data, not the “consensus.” Data. Data that hasn’t been doctored. Data that isn’t designed to illicit more grant money. Data that is vetted against all of the other data in the field, not only the chosen parts. A consensus should be understood as nomenclature for “we have no idea, but we do have an agenda to uphold.” In real science, a consensus means dick. Just the very idea of a consensus is a product of groupthink, not science. Good for Nature Conservancy for recognizing it.

2012-04-07  ::  madlibertarianguy

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