- GeoRef, Copyright 2008, American Geological Institute.
Environmental issues have become a concern of American society over the last 25 years. Scientists are responsible for providing impartial information, data, and guidance to the public. However, issues of science have become blurred with issues of public perception, leading decision makers and the public to disregard scientific testimony in the development of public policy. This article traces the early history of the environmental movement and considers elements of a free society in making choices about the future. By using parables and history, it becomes axiomatic that science and scientists must work with the public to balance resource demands with environmental needs for the good of all. Lessons from these parables can be translated into admonitions for scientists to be more forthcoming, to test their work against the needs of society, and to challenge political actions that are not based on good science. Scientists are challenged to be ethical leaders. This article is drawn from the author's presentation at the conference "Meeting Societal Resource and Environmental Requirements into the Twenty-First Century."