By Kasey Markel
The preservation of our environment is an ethical imperative and one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. By necessity, much of the battle to protect the environment will be waged at the level of policy. However, the track record of environmental legislation shows much room for improvement, a development that will only be reliably achieved when it becomes common practice to rigorously evaluate the effects of all policies with scientifically rigorous studies, prospectively as part of the planning process and retrospectively after widespread implementation. Environmental scientists are uniquely positioned by virtue of their biological expertise, scientific training, and statistical skills to take an active role in this evaluation process.