Baruch Fischhoff's personal statement-Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research - Carnegie Mellon University

photoBaruch Fischhoff

Engineering and Public Policy
Social and Decision Sciences

Life involves choices. We make them best when we know what we want, and what we can get. Decisions affecting our environment are often difficult, in both regards. The impacts of our actions can be uncertain and non-intuitive. What happens to the chemicals in our cell phones, after we toss them? How can a pretty plant become an invasive species, choking native ones and then starving the animals that depend on the native plants? What is the role of deer hunting in the balance of nature? In these unusual choices, we may not know what matters to us. How will we feel if a favorite natural place is lost? If we learn to live without, how should we feel about how easily we have adapted? What do we owe those who come after us? How will we feel, if they challenge us on what we have done with the world entrusted to us? When decisions seem too hard, we can feel paralyzed, drifting along with choices shaped by others, or by happenstance. However, wise choices don't require certainty, just an understanding of what gambles we want taken with our world. It will be shaped by our actions and our inaction.