Like everyone, I have thoughts and wishes for 2012. Besides personal ones for me and my family, I have one I wish to share with you, my fellow environmental professionals. My wish for 2012 is that we go back to the way it was about a decade ago or so and live in a society that makes decisions based on facts and science rather than based on innuendo and to please those who yell the loudest or have the best lobbyists. Need an example. There are many. But just a few days ago I was watching a political discussion show and a “panel” of experts declared the EPA as “out of control” because of their new draft mercury rules, without speaking of what those rules were. They conveniently did not mention that the rule contains an analysis showing a net economic benefit to our country of hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, they can critique the analysis; that’s fine. But to criticize a rule just because it’s a rule and not its merits is what I am talking about.
We should make decisions for our society and our country based on the best science, and not worry so much about pleasing constituencies. Decisions should not be made based on short-term gains (for the next election cycle), but, instead, for the long-term benefits for the most people. Yes, in all decisions (i.e., new rules, allowing a project to move forward or not), some people or some businesses get hurt and some prosper. But if these decisions are transparent, based on science and not hearsay, and made for long-term benefits, then businesses and people have a chance to adjust positively to even those decisions that may initially have adverse impacts. In the last decade, so many societal decisions have been made (and even more delayed or avoided) based on pleasing a small (either loud or wealthy) constituency, and this should be ended.
And I hope that businesses, governments, and other institutions begin in 2012 to be more innovative and take more smart risks. I detect in these past few years (especially since our recession) organizations have hesitated to make logical, wise decisions. The status quo is easier than doing something new or different, even if likely to be beneficial. The fear of what may happen to decision makers because of a decision maybe failing to meet all goals is paralyzing growth in this country. I hope that organizations will stop blocking otherwise logical plans that are not quite perfect and use smart analysis to fix and improve a bad situation – if it happens. It is only with a changing approach like this that U.S. businesses can innovate, become more competitive, and save money at the same time; and governments, universities, etc. can better serve its stakeholders.
I’m hoping that in 2012 all science-based professionals, such as the readers of this blog, begin to get greater respect and recognition than the non-science educated people whose decisions affect our companies, country, and our careers.
Let me know your thoughts!
I hope you, your family, friends, and colleagues have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2012 from CCES. And I hope we can be part of the coming year for you, as well.