Environmental issues, vast and varied in their details, unfold at the confluence of people and place. They present complexities in their biophysical details, their scope and scale, and the dynamic character of human action and natural systems. Addressing environmental issues often invokes tensions among battling interests and competing priorities. Air and water pollution, the effects of climate change, ecosystem transformations-these and other environmental issues involve scientific, social, economic, and institutional challenges. This book analyzes why tackling many of these problems is so difficult and why sustainability involves more than adoption of greener, cleaner technologies. Sustainability, as discussed in this book, involves knowledge flows and collaborative decision processes that integrate scientific and technological methods and tools, political and governance structures and regimes, and social and community values. The authors synthesize a holistic and adaptive approach to rethinking the framework for restoring healthy ecosystems that are the foundation for thriving communities and dynamic economies. This approach is that of collective action. Through their research and practical experiences, the authors have learned that much wisdom resides among diverse people in diverse communities. New collaborative decision-making institutions must reflect that diversity and tap into its wisdom while also strengthening linkages among scientists and decision makers. From the pre-publication reviews: "Finally, we have a book that explains how science is irrelevant without people. It's people who decide when and how to use science, not scientists. This book gives us a roadmap for how to really solve complex problems. It involves hard work, and creating new relationships between scientists and the public that don't typically exist in our society." -John M. Hagan, Ph.D.President, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
Herman Karl is a U.S. Geological Survey Research Scientist and Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; he co-directs the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative (MUSIC). During his thirty-year career at USGS, Dr. Karl has developed and led many projects to collect scientific information to inform policy decisions. He was a chief scientist of the EEZ-Scan project. EEZ-Scan project teams mapped the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and provided data in planning for environmental and resource management of this zone. He received the U.S. Department of the Interior Superior Service Award for his leadership of the EEZ-Scan project. He initiated and led the Gulf of the Farallones project, which conducted research on the effects of radioactive waste dumped off the San Francisco Bay area. The book summarizing this research won the Association of Earth Science Editors Award for Outstanding Publication of 2003 and two other national awards. His work was used in testimony to Congress. Dr. Karl was one of several chief scientists directing research gathering information on DDT-contaminated sediment offshore the southern California coast. This research was in support of the Montrose Case, the single largest environmental lawsuit at the time. Dr. Karl was one of the government expert witnesses in this case; the government won the lawsuit. For several years, he was part of the instructor core in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Community Based Ecosystem Steward course. The course was given at the request of land managers at sites of some of the most contentious environmental issues in the Nation, such as the spotted owl/timber harvest controversy. USGS located Dr. Karl at MIT to continue to develop ways to more effectively utilize science to inform policy. Before coming to MIT, he was Chief Scientist of the USGS Western Geographic Science Center.