Science and Misinformation

There will be no November meeting as we don’t have a presentation.  There will be a meeting in December.

One of the things that surprised me about the back and forth about Measure D, the initiative on the Alpine County ballot that would ban any biomass facility in eastern Alpine County and prohibit the County from spending any funds to even study or analyze any such facility, is how many reasonably educated people reject the science behind the need for some sort of biomass facility.  I certainly understand people’s concerns about possible local adverse impacts that would directly affect them, but am disappointed that they would reject even studying or analyzing any such facility.  Our efforts to educate the community over the last few years by bringing in top researchers in wildfire, forest health and resilience, have not been as effective as I had hoped.  Suggestions to make these presentations more relevant or effective are welcome.

For those that have any doubt that our forests are in a crisis, read the recently published National Forest Foundation Round Table report.

An excellent article on the problem of misinformation in the context of wildfire and forest health and resilience was recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Volume 20, Issue 7, p. 392-393.  Two of the co-authors have made presentations to the ABC over the years.

Part of the problem is that some scientists tend to overstate the implications of their work and let their personal biases influence their conclusions.  Peer review is in part designed to prevent that, but it is a slow process and much damage can be done in the meantime.

The science behind the need to restore our forests to a healthy and resilient state has been developed over more than two decades, and despite claims to the contrary from a very small number of deniers, the science is solid.

Future Meetings:  The December 6th meeting will feature a presentation by Dr. Alexandra K. Urza (Ali), Research Ecologist with Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station on a recent review of fuel treatment effectiveness.   There will be no meeting in January as agency personnel will be just returning from holidays.  Suggestions for future topics that are consistent with our mission statement are welcome. Please send suggestions for future speakers to

The ABC is grateful for the financial support received from the Alpine County Health and Human Services Public Health Dept.’s small grant program.

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