Highlighted Selections from:

Above the Din but in the Fray: Environmental Scientists as Effective Advocates


DOI: 10.1890/090143

Meyer, Judy L et al. “Above the Din but in the Fray: Environmental Scientists as Effective Advocates.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8.6 (2010): 299–305. Web.

p.299: Environmental policies and actions can be improved when environmental scientists engage in science-based advocacy, by calling attention to relevant scientific information and ensuring that policies and their implementation are consistent with the best available science. There are many models for scientist-advocates within and outside of advocacy organizations, and the roles they play may vary, depending on career stage. Here, we discuss the challenges and rewards for scientific staff in science-based advocacy organizations, as well as for an academic working with an advocacy organization, as a consultant, collaborator, or member of an advisory board. We identify some best practices for science-based advocacy and encourage the environmental science community to recognize the importance of the scientist-advocate’s role in strengthening environmental policy. -- Highlighted mar 13, 2014

p.299: In science, the peer-review process provides a critical – albeit imperfect – means of establishing what is credible information. In advocacy, no such vetting procedure exists, either to distinguish “advocacy-driven science” from “science-based advocacy” or to define and promote appropriate “norms,” or rules of behavior, for how scientists should advocate (Nelson and Vucetich 2009). -- Highlighted mar 13, 2014

p.299: More scientists would be willing to engage in the development of environmental policy if there were well-established norms regarding what constitutes high-quality, science-based advocacy -- Highlighted mar 13, 2014

p.300: Approaches to the use of science in generating political will for environmental issues include engaging citizens in environmental monitoring, which can increase awareness of problems, and empowering citizen groups to use science in advocacy (Groffman et al. 2010; Whitmer et al. 2010). -- Highlighted mar 13, 2014

p.301: Table 1. Recommended best practices for science based advocacy

  • Accurately characterize the best available, policy-relevant science
  • Clearly and thoroughly present the argument
  • Accurately characterize scientific uncertainty – avoid guesswork
  • Transparently represent the scientific basis for policy recommendations and explicitly acknowledge the values that also inform them
  • Be open to revising a policy recommendation in light of new information
  • Avoid hyperbole
  • Clearly acknowledge when expressing a personal opinion or making policy recommendations on issues that lie beyond the bounds of one’s technical expertise

-- Highlighted mar 13, 2014

p.302: Two common roles for scientists are (1) collecting and analyzing data to develop recommendations and (2) interpreting the results of science carried out by others, to assess environmental problems, evaluate solutions, and translate policy-relevant science into forms understandable by non-technical audiences. -- Highlighted mar 13, 2014