President's Blog

Preserving Independence
by Acting President & Senior Scientist Richard A. Houghton
May 28, 2014

An article in The Boston Globe on May 25, 2014, entitled “Woods Hole, feeling budget squeeze, looks to partner with energy industry,” reported that the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has agreed to help oil and gas companies identify new sources of fossil fuels. This is a new venture for that institution and is, according to the article, the result of reduced federal research funding.

Ever deeper cuts to federal science program budgets threaten the viability of all independent scientific institutions.   It should not be surprising that many of our peer institutions are turning to "energy firms" to ensure their survival.   But at what cost?  There is a risk for scientific independence and, perhaps even, scientific integrity.  There is also the risk that federal research dollars will, as a consequence, become even more difficult to attract. 

The village of Woods Hole is home to six independent science institutions.  The unique mission of the Woods Hole Research Center is to investigate the drivers and impacts of climate change around the globe.  Climate change is first and foremost caused by fossil fuel emissions, and WHRC will continue to stand for sustainable energy and against fossil fuel investments in its own stock portfolio (now 100 percent divested) and on its balance sheet.

These are perilous times for independent scientific institutions. If mighty organizations like the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution face this level of financial challenge, what hope is there for smaller organizations like WHRC?  You.  We need you now more than ever.  Your generous support allows WHRC to remain independent of fossil fuel interests. 

Please contribute to WHRC and speak out against fossil fuel interests.

Richard A. Houghton

Dr. Richard A. Houghton

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