Supporter Profile: Peter Gleick

Dr. Peter Gleick is a leading expert, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues. He co-founded and leads the Pacific Institute in Oakland, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012 as one of the most innovative, independent non-governmental organizations in the fields of water and economic and environmental justice and sustainability.

Dr. Gleick received the prestigious MacArthur “genius” Fellowship and was named “a visionary on the environment” by the BBC. He was elected both an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Wired Magazine featured Dr. Gleick as “one of 15 people the next President should listen to.” He received his B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gleick serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author of many scientific papers and nine books, including the influential series The World’s Water and Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, as well as the 2012 release A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy.

Gleick is a prolific blogger; see his list of blogs here.

In his column at Huffington Post, Gleick has eloquently defended Drakes Bay Oyster, writing, for example:

“Good science should have played a key role in the Drakes Bay debacle, and open community discussion should have as well. But we didn’t get good science. Instead, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior (DoI), and some local environmental supporters (with whom I often have strong common cause) manipulated, misreported and misrepresented science in their desire to support expanded wilderness. In an effort to produce a rationale to close the farm, false arguments were made that the farm damaged or disturbed local seagrasses, water quality, marine mammals and ecosystem diversity. These arguments have, one after another, been shown to be based on bad science and contradicted by evidence hidden or suppressed or ignored by federal agencies. The efforts of local scientists, especially Dr. Corey Goodman, professor emeritus from both Stanford and Berkeley and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science, were central to revealing the extent of scientific misconduct. Reviews by independent scientists and now confirmed by investigations at the Department of Interior and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences show that arguments of environmental harm from the oyster farm were misleading and wrong. One of those reviews criticized the “willingness to allow subjective beliefs and values to guide scientific conclusions,” the use of “subjective conclusions, vague temporal and geographic references, and questionable mathematic calculations,” and “misconduct [that] arose from incomplete and biased evaluation and from blurring the line between exploration and advocacy through research.” The review by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the Park Service: “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available science on the potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation.”

In this case, I believe the decision to close the farm was the wrong one, done for the wrong reason, and it should be overturned. Supporters of the farm are still fighting, and it is possible that there will be a change of heart at either the federal level, or in the courts. But these kinds of disputes will continue throughout the country as we continue to seek to balance conservationist and preservationist ethics and objectives. No matter where this balance falls, however, scientific integrity, logic, reason, and the scientific method are core to the strength of our nation. We may disagree among ourselves about matters of opinion and policy, but we (and our elected representatives) must not misuse, hide or misrepresent science and fact in service of our preferences and ideology.” (Read the rest here.)

In another column against the Park Service’s use of false science at Drakes Estero, “Bad Science Leads to Bad Policy,” Gleick concludes:

“Science is not democratic or republican. Scientific integrity, logic, reason, and the scientific method are core to the strength of our nation. We may disagree among ourselves about matters of opinion and policy, but we (and our elected representatives) must not misuse, hide, or misrepresent science and fact in service of our political wars.”

Gleick first wrote about the Park Service’s malfeasance in March 2011, in his piece “Whitewashing Scientific Misconduct at the Department of the Interior.”

In February 2013 he featured a guest editorial by Drakes Bay Supporter Sarah Rolph entitled “Who Cares About Science?”

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