Guest Column: Review and use of the science used for ORV plan
By MIKE BERRY
public has a right to question and understand the facts about the
“science” given as the justification for denial of public access to
much of the shoreline at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore
is important for government officials and the public to understand how
to identify valid science and how best to integrate it into
available science” is represented as research conducted by qualified
individuals using documented methodologies that lead to verifiable
results and conclusions. Opening up the so-called “best available
science” to in-depth public review and questioning is the most
important thing any of us can do to bring equity and clarity to the
lack of public understanding and transparency about the science and the
misapplication of science are causing a tremendous amount of beach
access loss, public anxiety, social tension, distrust of government,
and economic loss.
the public feels confident that the federal government is managing the
seashore in an equitable manner based on sound unbiased science, it
will not trust the government or buy into a final plan.
cannot manage what we do not understand. That is why responsible
environmental management policy must always consider sound science.
substantive environmental management and policy begins with a basic
understanding of how the environment works but also recognizes the
limitations and boundaries of science.
answers the question “how?” Science explains how the environment is
structured and how it functions. A science is a specific body of
knowledge derived from the scientific method. Through the scientific
method, we discover, replicate experiments, or demonstrate facts.
The scientific method forces us to go beyond personal opinion and political correctness.
scientific method centers on a process known as hypothesis
testing. It is a procedure in which we conjecture possibilities
(hypothesize); design and execute an experiment to test the hypothesis;
make and measure observations; collect and analyze data; and draw
conclusions whereby we accept or reject the hypothesis.
all sciences, particularly wildlife science, there are many
uncertainties, data gaps, and limited observations. These
limitations always need to be disclosed as part of the scientific process,
especially when the “science” is used as the basis for regulation.
the public, have lost control of our government and our precious
national seashore. To restore access, we need to create a public
record of concerns and scientific fact. We need to present that
information formally to our government decision-makers and elected
lawmakers to make sure there is balanced and equitable access and use
of our national seashore.
National Park Service is well advised to begin immediately to establish
an independent advisory body, much along the lines of the National
Academy of Sciences and charter that body to:
and comment on the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the key
studies used to make closure decisions as required by any ORV
specifically how the science is used to calculate or justify closure
boundary distances for various species to demonstrate that they are not
mere opinions or arbitrary management actions.
adaptive management options that might allow a better balance of public
access and species protection based on their unbiased review of the
Michael A. Berry served as any Army officer in Vietnam in the
1960s. After returning to civilian life, he earned a Doctorate in
Public Health and worked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
where, as a senior manager and scientist, he served as the Deputy
Director of National Center for Environmental Assessment at Research
Triangle Park, N.C. During his 28-year career with EPA, he had
extensive interactions with environmental organizations, local
governments, the federal courts, U.S. Congress, universities worldwide,
and institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the World
Health Organization, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For
more than 20 years, Dr. Berry taught public health, environmental
science, and business and environment courses at the University of
North Carolina. He is currently a writer and part-time
consultant, specializing in the evaluation of environmental quality and
human health effects, environmental management strategies and policy.
You can read more of his writing at http://dr-mike-berry.com)