Is that ecosystem 'altered' or 'degraded'? Maybe the answer is not as obvious as you think.
Good friend and colleague Bob Lackey gave an updated presentation of his provocative talk, Is Science Biased Toward Natural?, as the keynote speaker at the recent 35th Annual Meeting of SETAC, Vancouver, BC, 9-13 November 2014.
A bias toward “natural” or “pristine” ecosystems (i.e., those ecosystems unaltered by humans) is a common misuse of science in environmental policy and politics. Such a bias in science is often subtle and frequently goes undetected, but its presence reduces confidence in the impartiality of science and scientists. Public confidence that scientific information is technically accurate, policy relevant, and politically unbiased is central to informed resolution of environmental policy and regulatory issues that are often contentious, divisive, and litigious. Scientists should watch for the often subtle creep of normative science (i.e., information that appears to be policy neutral, but contains an embedded preference for a particular policy or class of policies). Failing to do so risks marginalizing the essential role that science and scientists ought to play in informing decisions on important public policy questions.
Here is a paper Bob often refers to:
You might not agree with everything Bob says, but you'll be thinking about it.
“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits . . . Climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” - Former Canadian Minister of the Environment (quoted in Dr. Lackey's talk)