"Science isn't political."
She mostly talked about her experience as Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA). Lubchenco was appointed by President Obama in 2009 and served until 2013. Currently she is a Professor of Biology and Zoology at Oregon State University.
After the meeting I waited around for a chance to talk with Dr. Lubchenco. My question for her related to what I said recently in Time for public officials to "come out"...about climate change.
What is more important for life on Earth than having a planet that supports the sort of human living we've been accustomed to? And not just for we who are living today, but also our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
So I'm planning to ask our local public officials, elected and appointed, whether they agree with the scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring, and (2) humans are mostly responsible for this. I might also ask those who answer "yes" if they think we need to do something about global warming/climate change.
Since Lubchenco mentioned climate change often in her City Club talk, I wanted to ask her if she could think of any reason why local public officials shouldn't be willing to say whether they agree with the scientific consensus about climate change/global warming.
"No," she told me. Which is the answer I expected, since she'd just said that science isn't political.
Science seeks to learn about the nature of shared reality, the world everyone inhabits -- conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, religious believers and non-believers, everybody.
Lubchenco's talk spurred me to compose a message I'll be sending to Salem-area public officials. And other local leaders: newspaper editors/publishers; Chamber of Commerce executives; corporate and non-profit organization leaders; people running for elected office.
Here's what I wrote.
Since you are a Salem-area leader, I'd like to know your answers to three simple questions about climate change.
Here's why: science isn't political.
People can (and do) disagree about all kinds of things. But science offers us a common ground where we can agree on basic facts about the world we share. With that foundation, debates about policy questions can be much more productive.
We can focus much more on "what should be" than "what is."
I'm deeply concerned about climate change/global warming. In my view, this is an issue that must be dealt with at all levels of society: national, state, county, local, organizational, individual. I'm focused on local.
If Salem-area leaders are in agreement about the problem, seemingly policies aimed at solutions will be easier to come by. This is why I'm conducting this survey: to learn how you and others view climate change.
I look forward to receiving your reply to this message. A simple "yes," "no," or "not sure" to each question is welcomed. Any other thoughts you would like to add would be extra-welcomed.
Responses will be made public. Including my own. I'm a "yes," "yes," "yes." However, even though I'm hopeful this will be everybody's response, I realize it likely won't be. Which is fine. Coming to agreement on scientific facts isn't possible unless we know where (and why) we disagree.
Here are the three questions for you:
(1) Do you believe that global warming is occurring, and is causing the Earth's climate to change in various ways?
(2) Do you believe that humans are mostly responsible for the global warming/climate change that is occurring?
(3) Do you believe that humans need to engage in actions to deal with both the causes of global warming and its detrimental effects on humanity?
Please don't be overly concerned about the precise wording of these questions. There are many ways they could have been phrased.
I just tried to get their meaning roughly right: (1) Is global warming happening? (2) Are humans mostly responsible for it? (3) Should we do something about global warming?