POINT OF VIEW On Earth Day, hope for a better future

The word “science” means many things to different people. While some see science as nerdy and boring, others are in awe of the discoveries that have been made and the technologies that change our lives.

To me, science means hope.

Science provides the tools to overcome these threats. Science has achieved once unimaginable things – the internet, human flight, antibiotics. And I fully believe that science is a critical part of saving the planet for humans and the other 8 million species that live on it.

As we celebrate Earth Day today, science and hope are firmly at its core.

Tens of thousands of people around the world will take part in the March for Science on Earth Day, calling on our elected officials to continue investing in scientific research that serves as the foundation of a strong, healthy and productive society.

I and others at The Nature Conservancy will join those marching here in Florida to raise awareness of the central role science plays in conserving the natural systems we all rely upon for survival.

For example, south of Miami, we are working with Miami-Dade County and private firms to evaluate how protecting existing coastal wetlands east of a wastewater treatment plant will reduce flooding risks associated with sea level rise to that critical county service and, if nature alone, or a hybrid of nature and additional constructed features will be needed to maintain this protection into the future. Science allows us to assess different arrays of potential natural and hybrid features and determine how services associated with each will fare in the face of rising seas.

Science underpins how state agencies around the Gulf of Mexico, 5 states including Florida, are bringing their coasts and waters back to health in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The RESTORE Act specifically mandated that “the best available science” be used to determine the most effective strategies for restoration. With that congressional mandate, the science is leading us and our partners to launch projects across the Gulf that rebuild oyster reefs and create “living shorelines.”

In North Florida, a spatial data or Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis will be used to estimate the aquifer impacts (water quantity and quality) for the Florida Springs Region. This scientific assessment will allow identification of water quality hot spots and be used to create a quantitative priority list for developing a land protection and management plan.

With science as part of our toolkit, we can find the hope needed to overcome even the greatest challenges and build a stronger future.


Editor’s note: Kristina Serbesoff-Kin is director of science for The Nature Conservancy in Florida.

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