For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate

PEBO has picked Jane Lubchenco, a prominent marine biologist at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science between 1997-98. A video of her talk on “Climate Change and its Implications for Oregon” can be found here.

In “Obama preparing to appoint three more climate change activists,” Climate Wire (subs. req’d) notes: “The early nomination could be a sign that NOAA will take on a prominent role in federal efforts to combat climate change, experts said.” She is yet more evidence of Obama’s seriousness to take science seriously and to act aggressively on climate change (see “Obama’s strongest message on climate yet: John Holdren to be named Science Adviser“).

Now if we could only get the media to understand that people like Holdren and Lubchenco are not “climate change activists” — they are world-class climate scientists who feel the urgent need for action because, as Holdren says, “civilization has already generated dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system. What keeps me going is my belief that there is still a chance of avoiding catastrophe.”

Given that we have just gone through eight years of disinformation from the White House and muzzling of climate scientists at federal agencies including NOAA, perhaps the best news is that Lubchenco has “longstanding interest in communicating complex scientific issues to the public and lawmakers”:

Lubchenco has helped found several organizations designed to bridge the gap between scientists and public policy — including Climate Central, a climate change think tank launched earlier this year. “We want to teach scientists to speak English when they talk about climate change,” she told ClimateWire in April, describing Climate Central’s mission. “We want to break it down for non-scientists.”

More reactions:

“Jane Lubchenco is a world-class marine scientist who has an international reputation for her integrity, her wisdom, her good judgment and her evenhanded, levelheaded approach to complex policy issues,” said Sylvia Earle, who served as NOAA chief scientist in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. “Her nomination is amazingly good news.”

Mike Hirshfield, senior vice president of Oceana, called Lubchenco someone “who would put oceans first.”

“We can’t think of anybody who fits that description better than Jane Lubchenco,” he said. “One of the challenges with any environmental issue is to find esteemed scientists who are willing to engage in public policy and spend time and energy communicating to policymakers. She’s one of the best at that.”

ClimateScienceWatch has more of her bio here.


5 Responses to For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate

  1. thingsbreak says:

    As I said over at Dot Earth, I am loving these picks- with the exception of Ag, but I am willing to give Vilsack a fair shake- and if possible they seem to be getting better and better…

    Two MacArthur winners in the cabinet? What a difference a competent Executive makes!

  2. David Lewis says:

    The use of “PEBO” may be fine for now, but what will it evolve into once Obama takes office? BO?

  3. john says:

    For the alphabetically challenged, David, it would evolve into PBO.

    The press’s coverage of this — and in particular Revkin’s — illustrates what has been a fundamental problem with their coverage of Global Warming in general — that is, that they treat it as a matter of opinion, or a popularity contest as to whether AGW is occurring, whether it is serious, and whether we should respond.

    They simply fail to understand that the science is what it is — and that increasingly, there is not only no doubt it is occurring and that it is a result of humans, but that it is the single biggest threat humanity has ever faced.

    It doesn’t matter whether a majority “believe” that, and it is irresponsible to be “balanced” in reporting on AGW. At some point, facts have to matter; empirical observations and informed assessments by knowledgeable people have to trump empty assertions by ideologically motivated hacks.

    We are where we are with global warming precisely because the journalists have totally failed to understand science and how to report it.

  4. Jim Bullis says:

    Your choice to get away from the “believer” wording might help to get this out of the realm of faith and religion.

    Staffing that understands the problem is a big step forward.

    Somewhere the understanders need to give way to the solvers if there is anything to be done about it short of demands for Draconian laws.

  5. WXnerd says:

    “At some point, facts have to matter; empirical observations and informed assessments by knowledgeable people have to trump empty assertions by ideologically motivated hacks.”

    I supposed that applies to both sides. Much like the assertion from former Vice President, Al Gore that the ocean is going to rise by 20 feet. This assertion from the lips of a politician should be trumped by the facts – as determined by credible scientists without an agenda (we do exist). Politicians have turned a good debate with facts that support BOTH sides into a “crazy alarmist” versus “evil denier” freak show.

    [JR: On our current emissions path, the ocean will rise 20 feet (in fact it will rise more than 80 feet and eventually 250 feet ) — but not by 2100. Gore didn’t say 2100.]