Science: The driving force behind EDF
Using rigorous science, we find the proven solutions to environmental issues
Respect for science guides everything we do at EDF.
If we want to achieve environmental progress, we can't be afraid to ask complex questions, such as:
- How much methane is leaked during natural gas production?
- What is the potential environmental impact of connecting the Mississippi River to its wetlands?
- How do you save fish in areas with very little fishery data?
Scientists from many disciplines
In 1967, we began as a small group of scientists determined to ban the harmful pesticide DDT, which was decimating bird populations. We now employ approximately 40 scientists, most of whom are embedded deep in our program work, asking critical questions for a broad range of problems, from climate change to overfishing, land restoration to toxic chemicals.
Office of the Chief Scientist
To keep science at the forefront of what we do, we also established an Office of the Chief Scientist, led by Dr. Steven Hamburg, an ecosystem ecologist and climate change impacts expert.
Hamburg and his office assist EDF staff in using the best-available science for setting and meeting goals, and if necessary, convening meetings of experts from around the world to tackle new questions.
Case study: Overfishing
Overfishing is a massive global problem, yet it is one we can solve in our lifetimes. One of the first steps is to assess fisheries scientifically—how many fish are left, how quickly are they likely to respond to better management, what levels of catch are sustainable. What goes unassessed generally goes unmanaged, with predictably disastrous results.
This is the case for many fish stocks, though. Fortunately, there are methods available—called “data-poor methods”—to make use of other kinds of data (like SCUBA surveys) and to extract as much useful information as possible out of the available data.
To assist these scientists, the EDF Research and Development team, led by marine ecologist Dr. Rod Fujita, developed a user-friendly guide to data-poor methods and a framework for applying the appropriate methods and generating fisheries management guidance from the results.
We put science into action
His biochemistry background and deep understanding of the science on chemical exposures has been critical in building awareness about the unregulated use of toxic chemicals in everyday household products. And this means you'll frequently spot him at Congressional hearings, fighting for better, safer products.
His call to action at a recent House hearing: "The safety of all Americans hangs in the balance."
Who better to issue this call than an expert in molecular biochemistry?
Science thought leaders
Via EDF Voices—our blog showcasing the stories, ideas and arguments from our staff—our scientists frequently share their analysis of current research as well as emerging science trends. See below: