Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ocean and Climate Advocate to head NOAA

There is another encouraging piece of news for the oceans from south of the border. President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, one of the US’s most prominent marine biologists, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This along with Tuesday’s announcement about the designation of 200,000 square miles of marine reserves in the South Pacific (see Bush’s Ocean Legacy below) bode well for oceans and climate.

Lubchenco, a conservationist who has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, is also a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Apparently over the years, Lubchenco has also been critical of the agency for not doing enough to curb overfishing. This sounds hopeful; she is now in charge of the agency she was critical of.

Obama has selected a woman, the first to head the agency, and one who's both a respected researcher and been an active player in national policy discussions. Andrew Rosenberg, who served as deputy director of NOAA's Fisheries Service under Clinton, praised Lubchenco as an "absolutely world class scientist." He added, "It's saying that science agencies have a role in policy. They need to be tightly connected, and I believe they will be tightly connected under Jane."

Dr. Lubchenco said, "The dialogue is now shifting gears from climate science to climate action. There's still a lot we need to learn about the science, but the events of the past year have ended much of the lingering debate and controversy. The most important question now is what can individuals, communities, states and nations do to reduce and prepare for climate change."

Does that ever sound like a breath of fresh air after 8 years of denials about climate change from the Bush administration.

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