Category: News

Lee Talbot’s Op-Ed on Washington Post

Lee Talbot’s Op-Ed on Washington Post

Lee Talbot MED57 recently had an opinion piece published in the Washington Post. 

Republicans’ attack on conservation law would shock their conservative predecessors

When President Richard Nixon asked my old boss at the Smithsonian Institution to loan me, then the institution’s head of environmental sciences, to the White House, I took on what may seem like an impossible task: write and help enact one of the country’s most important environmental laws. But I did, and the bill passed in a remarkably bipartisan way.

Now that law, the Endangered Species Act, is under vicious attack in Congress by anti-conservation zealots uninterested in working with their counterparts from the other side of the aisle.

Such is the state of our national affairs. The political climate makes it difficult to imagine a Republican president recruiting and encouraging a scientist to author progressive environmental legislation and help push it through Congress.

But that is exactly what Nixon did. At the time, nearly everyone in government, Nixon included, was worried about air and water pollution and environmental degradation from agriculture and development. Everyone wanted to save our wildlife and our natural heritage. They wanted to do what was best for the country.

So in 1970, I was hired to help create the president’s Council on Environmental Quality and develop national environmental policy. Before this, I had dedicated much of my career to the study of endangered species, venturing through dense Javan jungles and arid Arabian deserts to observe some of the world’s most imperiled animals. When I entered the White House, I knew I had to make conserving endangered wildlife our priority.

The law in place at the time — the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 — did little to protect animals on the edge of extinction, and states did next to nothing for threatened wildlife. So I decided to create a new law to fill in the gaps.

When I unveiled my idea to Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, as a win-win initiative, he and Nixon’s advisors agreed. But Haldeman had a caveat.

The Republican Nixon administration was faced with a Congress wholly controlled by Democrats. I had friends on the Hill on both sides of the aisle. I told Haldeman that we needed the Democrats with us to get our legislative initiatives through.

I asked if it was all right to work with the Democrats. Haldeman’s reply: Yes, do whatever you need to do to get our agenda through. His only proviso? Don’t ever appear with a Democrat on the front page of The Post.

I found the rivalry amusing at the time, but in the past, even the inherent divisiveness of party politics seldom stood in the way of making the best decisions for the American people.

Now, the idea of putting national interests ahead of party politics doesn’t seem to even occur to the most anti-wildlife lawmakers in Congress, who launch attack after attack against the Endangered Species Act.

To date, the current Congress has introduced more than 63 bills that would weaken or gut the act. These efforts to undermine one of our bedrock environmental laws are entirely wrongheaded. The Endangered Species Act has saved 99 percent of all animals under its protection from extinction and has put hundreds more on the road to recovery. A report from the Center for Biological Diversity found that 85 percent of the North American birds listed under the Endangered Species Act have either increased in numbers or remained stable since being protected.

This is proof that our laws have preserved critical natural resources. But with a pro-fossil fuels and pro-development administration in the White House, and Republicans controlling Congress, this progress is under threat.

We cannot afford to have our crucial conservation laws weakened. Instead, we should hold politicians who would undermine environmental protections accountable, because, as Americans, we value our wildlife and wild places over short-term profits, and we want them preserved for future generations.

2017 ECWG Gala Dinner Photos

2017 ECWG Gala Dinner Photos

107 ECWG members and guests gathered in the ballroom of the Cosmos Club on a snowy evening to celebrate and hear Lee Talbot’s presentation (A Fresh Look at the Art and Science of Motor Racing and its impact on Society) at our annual ECWG Gala on Saturday, 9 December 2017.
Photos: courtesy of Dr. Robert Griffith MN16, Philadelphia Chapter
2017 Amelia Earhart Expedition Returns

2017 Amelia Earhart Expedition Returns

The 2017 Amelia Earhart Expedition was sponsored by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) and National Geographic, and featured four forensic “historic human remains dogs” from the Institute for Canine Forensics.  The 46-person team, including four members of The Explorers Club, and the four dogs searched sites on remote, uninhabited Nikumaroro island in the Republic of Kiribati.  The team found various artifacts possibly related to the Amelia Earhart/Fred Noonan Lockheed Electra that disappeared in the South Pacific 80 years ago, in 1937.  The team collected soil, coral and tree wood samples, hoping to extract DNA that would prove that Earhart died leaning up against a tree in the SE end of the island.  The dogs had alerted on this site and 14 human bones and other evidence had previously been found there.  The team also discovered what is apparently a previously unknown pre-contact Polynesian graveyard and village on the north side of the 4.5-mile-long island. The team’s hypothesis that Earhart died on Nikumaroro is in contrast with the recent controversial History Channel TV show which strongly contended that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese and died in the Marshall Islands, 1325 miles NW of Nikumaroro.  That show has now been withdrawn from circulation, due to questions raised about the photograph that was the central linchpin of the program.  

Tony Meunier Awarded Eastern Section 2017 Digman Award

Tony Meunier Awarded Eastern Section 2017 Digman Award

Recognizing amazing Earth science educators with 2016 NAGT-Eastern Section Awards

2017 NAGT Eastern Section award winners by Steve Lindberg University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


The Digman Award was established to recognize a non-teacher that brings Geoscience experiences and instruction to the general public. This year the Digman Award was presented to an individual who’s efforts over the past 6 decades qualify him to not only be recognized for his contributions, but perhaps as a lifelong achievement award for continuous support for science education. Tony’s first participation in NAGT meetings began in the late 1960’s as a Geology and Geography student while at SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Geneseo, N.Y. In the 1970’s, while a graduate student at SUNY Brockport, he studied under the tutelage of some legendary NAGT members including Dick Liebe, Bob Cassie, Ira Geer, Bob Adams, John Hubbard and Victor Schmidt. While at Brockport, Tony began a real association with NAGT on a regular basis.

In May 1972 Tony began his professional career with the USGS, first as a Cartographer and then as a Physical Scientist retiring in 2010 to become a USGS Emeritus Senior Scientist. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s while with the USGS Earth Science Application Office he ran a very successful Educational Outreach program coined Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap developed programs in coordination with the larger than life NAGT legend James O’Connor to stress Earth Science Education in elementary, middle and high school curriculum. A traveling exhibit was designed and funded through Tony’s program that also included the wide distribution of free educational pamphlets at NAGT

From Lindberg, Stephen, 2017, Recognizing amazing Earth science educators with 2016 NAGT-Eastern Section Awards in National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Eastern Section Bulletin, edited by Callan Bentley: Norther Virginia Community College, Annandale, VA, v.67, #2 Summer 2017, p.16. Summer 2017 NAGT-ES Bulletin CB.pdf