Is Marine Conservation Science Becoming Irrelevant to Policy Makers?




Parsons, Edward C. M.
DellaSala, D. A.
Wright, Andrew J.

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The use of science in policy-making has declined dramatically around the world. One of the most obvious examples of scientific neglect is the refusal of many U.S. politicians to accept anthropogenic climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. While over 97% of scientists recognize the global threat posed by human climate forcing (Oreskes, 2004a; Doran and Zimmerman, 2009; Anderegg et al., 2010; Cook et al., 2013), 72% of Republican Senators in 2014 were climate change deniers (Schulman, 2015). Senator Jim Inhofe, the chair of the US Congressional Environment and Public Works Committee is an infamous climate change denier who even published a book called “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” (Inhofe, 2012). Such science contrarians among politicians are not uncommon, but when directly confronted on the issue two notable climate change deniers completely sidestepped it, stating “I'm not a scientist” (Senator Mitch McConnell) and “I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change” (past House Speaker John A. Boehner; Davenport, 2014). Another problem is the treatment of information provided by the best available science as “just another opinion” at the table, to be negotiated and compromised (e.g., Schneider, 2009; Wright, 2010). Here, we seek to shine a global spotlight on the alarming disregard for science in policy decisions affecting biodiversity conservation, mainly of relevance to marine scientists. We also suggest ways for scientific societies to speak out professionally in defense of conservation science.



Marine conservation, Policy making, United States. Congress, Climate change, Scientific whaling, Endangered species act


Parsons ECM, DellaSala DA and Wright AJ (2015) Is Marine Conservation Science Becoming Irrelevant to Policy Makers? Front. Mar. Sci. 2:102. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00102