In an old parable, each part of the body claims superiority: The head boasts of its intelligence, the feet of their fleetness, the eyes of their vision. The respective claims don't pan out, though, the moral of the parable being that, to function most effectively, each of the parts must learn to work with the others. This is a lesson that the scientific community should heed--especially now that science and society must join in thwarting serious threats to our environment.

Traditionally, it's been rare for biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers to communicate with ease, let alone pursue cooperative research. Rarer still has been the inclination for researchers to reach beyond their hard-science disciplines in shared endeavors with economists, lawyers, public health experts, sociologists, and so forth.

What we're only now beginning to understand is that to solve today's problems--especially environmental problems--we need to draw on the expertise available across disciplines,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!