Tomorrow’s AMS for tomorrow’s Earth.

Came into the office this morning after the three-day holiday weekend to find the latest print edition of Science magazine waiting in the snail-mail Inbox. Science, like most technical journals, runs a bit behind, so this one is dated 23 August 2019. On this issue’s cover, two articles were highlighted under the heading of Tomorrow’s Earth.

Hmm. Wonder what they could be about?

Turns out the first is entitled Reducing tropical deforestation. (Not sure whether the link will be any help, or whether you’ll need a subscription to access it), but the thrust of the article – very timely given the current concerns over the Amazon river basin fires – is that prevention of deforestation requires different policy tools and strategies from location to location. Three regions – the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Indonesia – are singled out for attention. Policies considered include establishing protected areas; law enforcement, aided by remote sensing technologies; withholding state aid to non-compliant local governments; voluntary private-sector commitments, including downstream companies; as well as restoration. The authors argue that implementation remains a challenge. They suggest that building public awareness of the benefits of maintaining forests helps motivate political and corporate leaders to do the right thing.

The second presents The case for strategic and managed climate retreat. Here the focus is on why, where, when and how should communities relocate in the face of climate change – a subject of special poignancy and relevance as Hurricane Dorian continues to pound the Bahamas and turns toward the U.S. southeast.

(Again) Hmm.

These two articles and their real-world context remind us that hundreds, indeed thousands of articles, scientific papers, notes, books, and missives could comfortably fit under the label Tomorrow’s Earth. Millions of decisions are made, actions are taken, and outcomes tweaked  each and every day in every sector – energy, food and water supply; emergency management, public health, transportation, environmental protection – based on a view of what tomorrow’s Earth will be or should be.

If you’re reading this post, chances are good that such work is not only your occupation but your preoccupation. It’s in your thoughts whether you’re at work or at home or out with family and friends; threaded through your meditative moments. It’s part of what defines you; it’s your calling.

Here in the U.S. the timing is special. We’re coming off the Labor Day weekend, and everyone is switching from a more-relaxed summer’s posture to focus and resolve on making the fall season productive.  Each of us is facing questions: how are the natural world and human society trending? How and in what ways can I improve the forecasts of those trends – extend their time horizon and improve not just their accuracy and but their utility? What’s to like and what’s problematic about those trends? What can I do during this fall season to go beyond the mere predictions and contribute my bit to making the world a better place?

Energizing! Our blood should be singing.

A concluding note. You’re working to make the world a better place. Here at the American Meteorological Society, as we’re wrapping up our Centennial year, our focus is on equipping you, helping you succeed going into the future:

  • Providing (and continually improving!) the best journals – to better inspire you by your colleagues’ accomplishments, and to better aid you in promulgating your own insights and ideas.
  • Holding (ever-more) productive meetings – enabling you to incubate ideas and spark creativity in a few days – progress that would take months to accomplish without the accelerated cycle of structured and serendipitous face-to-face communication.
  • Mounting new Centennial initiatives that will help you year-round to advance your career, to collaborate at local levels, to volunteer, and much more.   

Take advantage of these emerging AMS opportunities. Even better, help build them – volunteer/plug in! Better yet, lead.

Tomorrow’s Earth needs all the help it can get.

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2 Responses to Tomorrow’s AMS for tomorrow’s Earth.

  1. Bill:-

    A thought or two on relocation…

    We shouldn’t underestimate the power of memories in forming and binding a community together. When you hear the voices of those who left the Ninth Ward of New Orleans and didn’t return, you can still viscerally feel the emotional pull that they feel to go back, even to all of its vulnerability and poverty. It is the place where they remember the comfort of their mother’s arms. It is the place where they played their first game of stickball or hopscotch. It is the place where they met their first steady. It is the place that memory tells them is home.

    It is easy for planners who live elsewhere to simply say “That area is too dangerous. We shouldn’t rebuild there.” And in the past I’ve said the same thing. But I think the wiser course is for all of us to say to those who want to rebuild in dangerous places, “If you feel you must, do so. But you must do so better.” And then we must work with them to help them build back better.

    What’s the price if we don’t? Those who have these emotional ties may not return, leaving blighted and stunted neighborhoods behind. Both those who return and those who don’t will become more isolated, more fragile and more vulnerable. The cost of that vulnerability is likely higher than the cost of building back better. So let’s think carefully before we too blithely urge anyone to step back from the place that they know as home.

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