Scientists Vital to Survival

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Dear Editor:

Thanks to the Eastern Shore Post and Linda Cicoira for reporting on the issues surrounding the future of the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s groundwater reserves and the ongoing debate regarding the expansion of the poultry industry in Accomack County.

I appreciate the opportunity to clarify a point that was made in Ms. Cicoira’s April 26, 2019, article in The Post [“DEQ Groundwater Public Meeting Heats Up to a Boil”]. Specifically, as correctly reported, in a letter to the chairman of the A-NPDC’s Groundwater Committee I warned that blind faith in a limited and unilateral “scientific” opinion on the sustainability of our aquifer was dangerous and cited a number of instances where reliance on narrow testimony from “experts” hired by industry to offer “opinions” on various environmental issues or threats had turned out to be disastrous.

This was not meant as a condemnation of the vast majority of credentialed, dedicated, and esteemed scientists and researchers whose work has served to underwrite policy that saved us all from unimaginable degradation of our life and environment on this planet. Indeed, examples of legislation that were based on credible science and testimony are the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of 1970, groundbreaking legislation which has spared tens of millions of lives since passage. Also, climate scientists in the 1970s and ’80s accurately predicted we would experience extreme weather events and sea level rises if we did not temper our use of carbon-based fuels. Scientists and doctors in the medical field have saved billions of lives by developing treatments and preventatives that have or are eradicating disease and afflictions that would have ravaged global survival without their work and discoveries.

We join scientists in promoting the use of the “Precautionary Principle,” an approach which states that when the totality of risks from a proposed action is unknown, you err on the side of public health and the environment. This approach seems to be lacking in the current debate. It’s not complicated “rocket science” but can be summed up as simply “common sense.”

Ken Dufty, Exmore