Environmental Monitoring with Jaqueline M. McGlade

Follow: , ,

Imagine someone telling you: “We are living a completely sustainable life. Exploitation of our resources for example fishery is not dangerous and there will be enough left for our children and grandchildren.” Of course you’d reply: “No, we aren’t living a sustainable life. We can’t go on like this forever.” But how could you conquer your opponent by using facts? You’d need some empirical data and even more importantly models that predict the future development of your specific parameters in a reliable way. Without possessing such models, it is very hard to compete against opponents in politics and to ensure better sustainability policies for future generations.

Jacqueline M. McGlade (Wikipedia)

As you can imagine, developing such models is not trivial. Jacqueline M. McGlade devoted most of professional life to the development of models of ecosystems. She developed so called “Lotka-Volterra” fishery assessment models in her early career, that take into account the nonlinear dynamics in the relation of prey and predators. Later on she worked for on invasion exponents, phenotype dynamics and evolutionarily stable attractors in a wide range of ecosystems.

Since 2003 Jaqueline M. McGlade is Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EAA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The EAA is an organization that tries to establish a monitoring network for the European environment. Taking into account the short introduction of this article we can now see the tremendous importance of this task: We must be able to assess our impact on nature in order to develop approriate counter-measures. Without realiable data we can’t persuade key actors of our industry and society to change towards a more sustainable policy.

We are meeting Jacqueline for dinner tonight, so we’ll be back to you with more insights soon!

3 thoughts on “Environmental Monitoring with Jaqueline M. McGlade

  1. I think one important point was missing in the presentation.

    and it is very well expressed in this Einstein Quote:

    “not everything that can be counted counts,
    and not everything that counts can be counted”

    if we do not understand the difference and act accordingly
    even the best data will only tell us how many more species
    we have managed to extinct again “today” and this until
    it will be our own species.

    The environment can live without humans, but humans can not live without the environment.

  2. Thank you for your reply. It is certainly true what you’re stating. Even the best data doesn’t help if we do not have to motivation for change.

    Nevertheless I have to bring out again the importance of available data. If those who are motivated and who do want change can’t prove what is going on, then they’re facing serious problems.

    Imagine being part of a rainforest tribe in Malaysia. You keep telling authorities that there is illegal logging but you can’t really deliver facts because you’re resources are very limited. Eye on earth could help you in that case a lot. An internet connection, some clicks and a bit of research later you’d be able to deliver facts in form of satellite imagery and fight for your interest.

  3. Hi,

    thanks for the reply.
    I do of course not disagree with what you wrote.
    I am trying on my domain to just provide such data
    (come to my talk tomorrow and you will see).

    I was just writing that this one important aspect was missing
    and that after all, don’t we know already that we are totally unsustainable?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *