CANOPY MAGAZINE FALL 2012
A Letter from the President
Annual Report Issue PRESIDENT & SENIOR SCIENTIST Dr. Eric A. Davidson
here has never been a time of greater need for the science that is the signature product of the Woods Hole Research Center. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is making halting progress on a unified protocol that is projected to take effect in 2020, the brutal truth is that the UNFCCC has failed to make an appreciable dent in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate and the environment were barely mentioned in the US election season of 2012â€”before Hurricane Sandy struck. And yet, left unchecked, the current trajectory of climate change will carry us beyond the envelope of historic climatic stability that made agriculture and human civilization possible. At the same time, pressures are growing for competing uses of land among agriculture, forestry, energy production, urbanization, water resource catchments, and natural habitats. The Woods Hole Research Center actively and vigorously addresses these great topics of our era. Not constrained by competing and often confounding missions at universities and government laboratories, and able to nimbly assemble integrative teams of natural and social scientists and communication experts, our Center plays a uniquely pivotal role to define and communicate the need to find solutions to these environmental and economic challenges with clarity, breadth, depth, and urgency. We are committed to the vision that science, supported by world-class research and communication on forests, soils, air, and water, can empower people to insist on and create the necessary policies to find sustainable pathways for human well being in an increasingly resource-limited world.
Pursuing this vision requires both a global perspective and local knowledge of how ecosystems function and how people benefit from and modify those ecosystems. We simultaneously measure through fieldwork, map with the help of satellite imagery, and model with a view to anticipating future trends. As the human impact on the planet grows, we keep track of what is happening to the land, identifying for society the hotspots and consequences of change, from the thawing permafrost in the Arctic to the expanding agricultural regions of the tropics. We merge natural science with social and economic science to discover paths for human prosperity and sustainability of the Earthâ€™s natural resources. The global reach of the Woods Hole Research Center is impressively demonstrated by the range of new projects that we initiated in the past year in the forests of Mexico, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Canada, and the USA. We design our research to include local partners, improving their capacities to conduct research and build policy. Finally, we communicate these insights both to the scientific community, thus advancing scientific discovery, and to non-scientific audiences who are seeking science-based solutions to the most pressing environmental and economic issues of the day. I thank our many dedicated supporters and I invite those new to the WHRC to join us in our pursuit of science that makes a difference. Sincerely, Eric A. Davidson President and Senior Scientist
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