a pre-emptive plea (Re: Corals devastated in Caribbean)

Doug Yanega dyanega at UCR.EDU
Tue Apr 4 13:33:04 CDT 2006

Rowan Sage wrote:

>As central players in the field of conservation biology, taxonomists
>have to be engaged in the public debate or else we will have to cede the
>argument to the like of George F Will who has other opinions about
>climate change.  I might propose that the role of taxonomists in the
>conservation of species and how to take this to the public should be an
>acceptable agenda item for Taxacom.

As such, sure - but that didn't look like where it was headed. To
keep it on topic, I'll suggest this much: you can't debate if no one
invites you to the table. We cannot hope to "take this to the public"
until and unless we have a voice that the public will hear and take
seriously. This requires one of two things, at a minimum - (1) at
least ONE prominent, respected spokesperson who can get the media
spotlight simply by speaking. Science has never had very many such
spokespeople, though the pro-exploitation agenda has never lacked for
them. If folks like Paul Ehrlich and Ed Wilson are our only
standard-bearers (now that the Old Guard, and some more recent icons
like Carl Sagan, are gone), we're simply outgunned. Who do we have
that has comparable clout to George Will? No one. (2) an actual
unified organization, formally recognized, and capable of issuing
press releases. We've got other such entitities out there fighting
the good fight, from the Union of Concerned Scientists to the Sierra
Club, but if we feel that we have a unique message that none of these
extant organizations is delivering, then we need our own organization
to do the job. This, at least, is something that could be planned, as
opposed to waiting for a Spokesman/Savior to rise out of nowhere.


Doug Yanega        /Dept. of Entomology         /Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0314
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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