The Distinctive Characteristics of Science During Crisis

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 210EF (San Jose Convention Center)
Gary Machlis,U.S. Department of the Interior Strategic Sciences Group, Clemson, SC
Historical and contemporary experience suggests shows that science plays an increasingly critical important role in governmental and institutional responses to major environmental crises. Recent examples include the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010), the Fukushima nuclear accident (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012), and the West Africa Ebola epidemic (2014). These events and others have revealed that the effective application of science during such crises has several unique characteristics, including the use of coupled human-natural systems frameworks, clear communication of uncertainties and limitations, exploration of cascading consequences over multiple time scales, an accurate sense of place, identification of beneficiaries and those adversely affected, compelling visualization and presentation, and the capacity to speak "truth to power." This presentation will address the distinctive characteristics of science during crisis and new organizational frameworks for applying science to inform decision making during environmental crises.