Palaeoecologists Advise Politicians on Earth’s “Tipping Point”

Palaeoecologists Anthony Barnosky and Elizabeth Hadly are featured in Nature for their work preparing the 46-page Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century at the request of California Governor Jerry Brown. Brown had seen Barnosky and Hadly’s Nature paper claiming that Earth faced a ‘planetary-scale tipping point’ because of anthropogenic climate change, ecosystem loss, pollution, and population growth. Brown called the scientists, and Barnosky recalls that the conversation boiled down to one question: “Why aren’t you guys shouting this from the rooftops?” Hadly said, “We thought we were.”

The consensus statement was intended to distill climate change science into points that lawmakers need to address in order to prevent the Earth’s ecosystems from passing the tipping point of no return. The statement has over 3,300 signatures of endorsement, most being from researchers. The 8-month-long preparation process involved much communication with Brown, who helped Barnosky and Hadly present it in a way that would resonate with lawmakers. Not only did this include numerous revisions attempting to summarize studies without using scientific jargon, but Brown also advised them closely on how best to format and structure the document. Since Brown was presented with the statement in December, he has been working to spread its message as far as possible. Read the full story in Nature.


Gina McCarthy

Speaking of climate change and leadership, on Tuesday, August 19, a special Management Grand Rounds will be held in which Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will speak on “Protecting Our Health, Fighting Climate Change, and Effective Leadership.” Sign up via NetLearning.

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