Published: May 20, 2009

Advocate for environment, scientist duo urges, as Michigan researchers seek greenhouse gas controls

Contact(s): Mark Fellows Media Communications office: (517) 884-0166, Jennifer Donovan Michigan Technological University office: (906) 487-4521

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Scores of college and university researchers urged Michigan’s congressional delegation this week to support strong federal policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including dozens of Michigan State University scientists.


“We are convinced that immediate action is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming on Michigan’s economy and environment, including the Great Lakes,” the group of more than 170 wrote. “While slowing the damaging effects of climate change poses enormous challenges, we also believe such action presents Michigan with real opportunities to reinvigorate our economy and improve the quality of life for all Michiganders.”


The call went out from a news teleconference from Lansing and press events in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo May 19.


The group pointed to an estimate that more than 150,000 new jobs could be created by capping carbon pollution and promoting energy efficiency in Michigan, a third of them in manufacturing. Climatic changes associated with global warming will cut into Michigan’s crop production and also its travel industry, the group warned.


The advocacy action coincided with publication of a paper in a national science journal this week in which scientists from MSU and Michigan Technological University urge researchers to speak out on environmental policy.


Michael P. Nelson, an associate MSU professor of fisheries and wildlife, joined with Michigan Tech population biologist John A. Vucetich in publishing the ethical analysis of environmental scientist advocacy in the journal Conservation Biology.


The two analyze the arguments in favor of public advocacy among researchers and those against, and in the end come down on the side of scientists performing their civic duty to apply their knowledge to public decision-making.


“Our assessment calls for more active participation by scientists in matters of policy,” they concluded. “Broad participation will undoubtedly result in disagreement among good scientists and will substantially complicate the policy-making process. However, our goal here should not be simplicity, but rather the betterment of society.”


Nelson, a science ethicist at MSU’s Lyman Briggs College, practiced what he published by adding his signature to the greenhouse gas letter to lawmakers.


For more, click here. Read the Conservation Biology advocacy ethics article online.




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Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.


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