John Foley – climate change is a ‘civilization problem’
Aug06

John Foley – climate change is a ‘civilization problem’

By Terence Houston, ESA policy analyst In the face of what he called an “inflection point in history,” on issues such as climate change and natural resources consumption, opening plenary speaker John Foley called on Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting attendees to reexamine and build upon the traditional methods of public engagement. Noting that traditional modes of governance (such as Congress) are “broken and inadequate,” Foley suggested that we reexamine our theories and methods of influencing policy changes, asserting that relying on grassroots activism, international support or free markets alone are “theories of change” that need to be re-evaluated in favor of a new frameworks. He stated that we should not “pigeon-hole” an issue like climate change as an environmental problem, but as a “civilization problem – do you get to have one?” We often get stuck focusing on the aspects of climate change that are more polarized, namely the 60 percent of carbon emissions generated from energy production, said Foley. He suggested mitigating global warming through a focus on the 35 percent of carbon emissions that come from agricultural production. Addressing human diets, biofuels and food waste would put a significant dent in what we need to grow, putting a dent in the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming. He noted that China, India and the United States contribute 60 percent of the world’s nitrogen oxide from fertilizer and make up 77 percent of irrigation water use. Foley called on scientists to “get out of your bloody cage” and interact with individuals with different areas of expertise, such as people in the business community or governance. He applauded the work of ESA and other scientific societies to engage their members in policy, referencing the work of the Leopold Leadership program in helping scientists gain skills to better share their scientific information with the media and decision-makers.  Referencing author Barbara Kingsolver, he reminded attendees not to forget to hope: “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for.” Foley’s message was a refrain on 2013 ESA Regional Policy Award recipient Ellen Anderson, Energy and Environment Senior Advisor to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. She touted the role scientific understanding has in helping us as a society gain understanding and wisdom so we can “fear less” and asserted there is hope for the future, given that a majority of millennials when surveyed, stated that they are unlikely to support a candidate who does not believe the scientific consensus regarding human-influenced climate...

Read More
Ellen Anderson to receive ESA’s 2013 Regional Policy Award
Jul16

Ellen Anderson to receive ESA’s 2013 Regional Policy Award

Former Minnesota state senator is energy and environment senior advisor to the governor   By Nadine Lymn, ESA director of public affairs Each year since 2008, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) recognizes an elected or appointed local policymaker who has an outstanding record of informing policy decisions with ecological science. This year, ESA’s Regional Policy Award will go to Ellen Anderson, Energy and Environment Senior Advisor to Minnesota’s Governor Dayton. “Ellen Anderson exemplifies leadership in promoting sustainability” said ESA President Scott Collins.  “As a Minnesota state senator she championed bills to foster renewable energy, clean water and parks and in her current capacity she’s working to advance Minnesota’s environmental quality initiatives. She sets a high standard for policy makers everywhere.” Anderson served in the Minnesota Senate for eighteen years, where she was the chief author of the 25 percent by 2025 legislation, which requires Minnesota energy companies to generate at least 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2025.  She also co-authored numerous bills related to energy, natural areas, and many other environmental issues. Since February 2012, Anderson has served as senior advisor on energy and environment to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.  Anderson works on clean energy, environmental policy issues, and public outreach for numerous state agencies and the Governor. “Sustainability is the headliner of our time,” said Anderson.  “I feel incredibly honored to receive this award from the Ecological Society of America whose members have spearheaded and helped shape our thinking about how we manage our ecosystems—from agricultural to urban—to sustain them for future generations.” ESA, which holds its Annual Meeting in a different city each year, established its Regional Policy Award in 2008 to recognize an elected or appointed local policymaker who has integrated environmental science into policy initiatives that foster more sustainable communities. Past recipients of the ESA award are Ken Bierly, with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Karen Hixon, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. ESA President Collins will present Anderson with the 2013 ESA Regional Policy Award at the start of the Opening Plenary on Sunday, August 4 at 5 PM in the auditorium of the Minneapolis Convention Center. ESA’s conference is expected to draw 3,000 scientists, educators, and policymakers from across the nation and around the...

Read More