People argue from a position of belief instead of knowledge
Failure to recognize that environmental problems are intrinsically complex
Just blame Corporate America, your parents, the establishment, whatever and abdicate personal responsibility
An acute, but subtle and unrecognizable problem in society today is a slow move away from the idea that we live in a "rational" world, to an idea that the world can act arbitrarily. This can largely be attributed to the following:
If a newspaper headline says that 1 billion salmon are killed a day by Bonneville dam - most people will just believe that. In other words, a) number mean nothing to us and b) we have lost our desire to question authority and ask to see the data which means anyone can sell the public anything, these days.
There is an increasing tendency for everyone to act in their own self-interest. Again, if this is done in an arbitrary way it exacerbates the problem.
An uninformed public is both dangerous and largely useless. At a time when the public participation process in environmental decisions is increasingly important, we need a well-informed public so the process can really work.
Without an informed public we see the perpetuation of myth and the polarization of environmental issues. The value of objectivity with respect to environmental management lies in its ability for bring about convergence. There is nothing like good data to illuminate a problem and no data or bad data to make a problem worse.
Overarching principles for this course.
1. You should never believe what anyone says. You should always require
that they back up their assertions with real data - not here-say
2. You should always go through the exercise to determine what sources of information you vest credibility in and whay that is.
3. You should always seek to be objective when it comes to describing a problem. With objectivity there are solutions. With subjectivity, there are only opinions. s
4. All measurements have errors and have varying reliability. Errors can be either random or systematic. Understanding the sources of error are a crucial element of this class.
5. You will understand exponential growth!!!
Why is science important and not boring?
Science is a process whereby aspects of a problem are discovered. It is a process without answers but a process that points to the kinds of questions which should be asked. It is this process, as applied to particular environmental problems, that we will study during this term.
The fundamental problem:
These people need energy and resources. Sustainable growth may be a myth but managing resources in an intelligent, responsible and long term way is not a myth. But to do that requires an understanding of basic scientific principles and methods of data acquisition and analysis.
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