Science museums should recruit the public in confronting the planet’s toughest challenges.
When I was in graduate school studying ecology during the 1980s, we all shared a conviction to make the world a better place. Oh, the power of youthful optimism and energy! We had hopes of stopping rainforest degradation, reversing coral reef decline, saving endangered species and ensuring clean air for everyone.
Thirty years and thousands of eager graduate students later the planet has lost more than 50 percent of her primary forests, atmospheric carbon dioxide now exceeds 400 ppm and 70 percent of coral reefs have been destroyed. The best efforts of our brightest and most dedicated minds have failed to stop—much less reverse—global environmental degradation. Clearly, even in this age of astounding technological achievement, scientific innovation alone is not enough to change our current course. There is a critical need to alter the way in which science serves society—and the best place to start is with our youngest generations.
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