Jane Lubchenco says there is no longer any doubt that global warming threatens the planet, and it’s time to do something about it.
A vast majority of scientists agree that global warming caused by human-generated greenhouse gases is a serious threat to civilization and the Earth’s natural ecosystems.
A recent scientific study reports that many of the ecosystem services that support life on the planet are being degraded in a manner that could lead to significant harmful consequences over the next 50 years.
“What has become clear is that if society wants to avoid future disasters, it should do two things: prevent even greater disruption to the climate system and prepare for the climate changes already set in motion,” says Jane Lubchenco, Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and Distinguished Professor of Zoology at OSU, and an expert on issues related to global warming.
“The evidence is overwhelming that even simple changes can be a big help and have a huge cumulative impact,” Lubchenco says. “If every American switched just three light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. If everyone switched to a car with five miles-per-gallon better mileage, that would be equal to taking another 150 million automobiles off the roads. Individual actions add up to big changes.”
Lubchenco says the oceans also are being critically affected by the changes. Events of the past year, including disrupted fisheries, torrential rains and catastrophic hurricanes, are consistent with what scientists expect as a result of global warming, Lubchenco says.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently honored Lubchenco with its Public Understanding of Science Award for her role in encouraging scientists to promote “an open dialogue on issues affecting all our lives.”
Lubchenco has been instrumental in the foundation of three major initiatives to increase science communication. They are:
- The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, begun at OSU in 1998 to train academic environmental scientists to become more effective communicators and leaders
- COMPASS, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, a collaborative effort to communicate marine conservation science to resource users and managers, policy makers and the media
- PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, a four-university research, training, and outreach collaboration focused on the near-shore marine ecosystems of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts
“Earlier in my career I was like most researchers who just teach their students and publish their studies but don’t get involved much in the public arena,” Lubchenco said. “But I’ve come to realize that as scientists we have both an opportunity and an obligation to help more people understand and use science, which plays such a critical role in our lives.”