95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

ESA Opening Plenary 1: Environmental Disasters In the US: Exploring Our Reactive Mode (Panel Discussion)

Sunday, August 1, 2010: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Blrm BC, David L Lawrence Convention Center

Group Name: Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, Burmese Python and Asian Carp invasions, catastrophic forest fires in the West, wetland loss and Hurricane Katrina—human decisions have figured into how all of these disasters have played out. A panel of experts will offer several case studies from prominent environmental disasters—including the Deep Horizon Oil Rig accident—and will explore the ways in which society assesses risk, and why we so often find ourselves reacting instead of proactively taking steps to minimize or avoid grave outcomes. ESA Vice President for Public Affairs Laura Huenneke (Northern Arizona University) will moderate. Confirmed panelists include Robert Twilley, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science and Director, Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute at Louisiana State University; David Lodge, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame; and Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor in the departments of Social and Decision Sciences and of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Twilley is an expert in wetlands and wetlands management on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. He will highlight how wetland degradation exacerbated the impact of hurricanes in the region and will also discuss the recent oil disaster in the Gulf. Dr. Lodge is an invasive species expert who will showcase past invasion disasters and the risk for future ones, such as the Asian Carp. Dr. Fischhoff is an expert in risk analysis and decision science, whose research focuses on the communication of risk between experts and non-experts, particularly in areas such as human health, climate change and the environment, and national security. After a brief overview by the moderator, each ecological scientist will briefly offer a case study of an environmental disaster and Dr. Fischhoff will offer insights on these and other examples. The panel will then respond to and discuss initial questions posed by the moderator, before devoting the last 15-20 minutes to questions from the audience. The intent of the session is to explore the origins, factors, and roles of individual and society perceptions of risk in large-scale environmental disasters.

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