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Science Wednesday: Lisa Jackson, Eco-Warrior!

2010 January 27

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

How great it would be to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone! (…or would it be Spin now?) Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show aspired to this position in their famous song of 1972, written by Shel Silverstein. Well, getting an article about you in Rolling Stone is almost as good. So I was thrilled to read the current issue of Rolling Stone (Feb. 4, 2010) which has an article on our “Eco-Warrior” administrator, Lisa Jackson. Reporter Tim Dickinson says, “Taken together, Jackson’s efforts represent a sweeping attempt to revitalize an agency…The goal, as she (Administrator Jackson) sees it, is to once again base environmental regulations on science and the law…”

Sustainability is often described as a three-legged stool, with one leg each for the environment, the economy, and society. I think that the legs are not even, and the major support comes from the environment. Without the natural capital provided by our environment, we’d have no society or economy. Convincing evidence for the importance of the natural environment came from the Biosphere 2 project.

In the early 1990’s, a huge structure was built in the Arizona desert. Over 3 enclosed acres housed a variety of ecosystems with manmade recycling systems designed to imitate earth’s natural systems. The project, however, could not independently sustain humans or the other organisms inside. There were problems with oxygen and food, and outside electricity had to be used. Because of Biosphere 2, we learned that people don’t have the ability to design a self-sustaining ecosystem for human life. If we lose our natural ecosystem by failing in environmental protection, in the words of Dr. Gro Brundlant, chair of the first World Commission on Environment and Development, there will be no sanctuary. EPA’s mission, protecting the environment and human health, is key to our sustainability and survivability.

At EPA we rely on science and our intelligent leaders like Lisa Jackson to carry out this mission. Rolling Stone has duly recognized her, and I am very proud. Maybe next year she will make the cover!

About the Author: EPA Environmental scientist Dr. Barbara Karn focuses on “green” nanotechnologies, including using green chemistry, green engineering and environmentally benign manufacturing to make new nanomaterials and products for preventing pollution.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    January 27, 2010

    I guess the definition of “eco warrior” is someone who totally disregards good science and the impact of their decisions to the real public , rather than the administrations special interests, then she’s the real deal.

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 27, 2010

    Dr. Barbara….., Mick Jagger sings Loudly “I can’t get no satisfaction”. Actually he wanted to Administrator Jackson not satisfaction to make some new regulation and law for next time better mission. Don’t worry Administrator Jackson. God bless you !!!!!

  3. Carolyn Allen permalink
    January 27, 2010

    Protecting the environment from mankind’s onslaught is tough work. It’s a shame that we have not realized that the earth is our “life raft” in space, and that the natural systems are our most powerful ally. The EPA has had tremendous political pressures, but most of their team members bring tremendous skills and knowledge to the daunting task. Biosphere 2 should be a clear message that we NEED natural systems for survival. And that our arrogance about technological saviors is misplaced. I vote for aligning our strategies with our global environmental systems. I try to share practical solutions for survival on my websites, including Solutions for Climate Change:

  4. Paul bogaars permalink
    January 27, 2010

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  5. Al Bannet permalink
    January 27, 2010

    So, you KNOW the Earth must have a healthy wilderness for life to survive, but what are you doing to save and extend that wilderness? Your President says he wants to “get this economy back on track and growing again” which includes the remaining forests as the needs of the growing population expands everywhere. So who is kidding who?

  6. Al Bannet permalink
    January 27, 2010

    What is your definition of “good science” – anything that opens the way for continuous economic growth? Don’t forget common sense questions like: How many people can the Earth support? and: How much pollution can it absorb?

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    January 27, 2010

    Biosphere2 was a valuable learning experience that showed how dependent we are on natural systems for survival and if we don’t take care of them and support them we will go the way of T Rex and Triceratops. There is a story in this month’s National Geographic about setting up cities on Mars. The conclusion is that you could never go outside without special scuba equipment on to breathe and the Martian atmosphere would become uninhabitable before the earth’s does even with the maximum amount of human intervention to make Mars permanently livable. Earth is our best hope we should work to preserve, not destroy it. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. Jason Wright permalink
    January 28, 2010

    There is lot of talk about saving the planet and I think its a responsibility of every individual to make a contribution so that we can really do something better for the environment being a responsible individual its our duty to step up and make a difference.

  9. donna permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Technology will be one of the best tools to create a healthy world. Let’s act now and save our humanity!

  10. permalink
    May 19, 2013

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  11. Corey J Johnson permalink
    December 19, 2013

    Regardless of politics. Science and technology go hand in hand here. Nanotechnology is rapidly advancing many different aspects in our societies!

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