One hallmark of Hal Mooney’s contribution to science has been his consistent commitment to ensuring that ecological science contributes to making the world a better place. He has inspired, led, and contributed to numerous scientific assessments that demonstrate the ecological consequences of human activities and that synthesize ecological science that has been critical to the development of environmental policies at national and international scales. A partial list of these assessments indicates the breadth of Hal’s contributions to making science relevant to environmental policy. We describe two of these threads to show how this process has shaped the science of ecology, the careers of many ecologists, and the development of environmentally appropriate policies.
The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative (SBI) within the Ecological Society of America (ESA) shifted the society from a focus on ecology for ecologists to a broader commitment to making ecology relevant to society. The SBI and Hal’s collaboration with similar efforts in other countries launched the Global Biodiversity Assessment and subsequently the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which showed the local and global magnitude of the societal impacts of changes in ecosystems and their services. The MEA in turn provided a foundation for IPBES, the current international program to assess changes in ecosystem services and the information needed by governments to ensure the sustainability of ecosystem services. Another suite of assessments showed how agriculture and aquaculture contributed to environmental degradation and human health risks. The resulting changes in public awareness and regulations have caused the aquaculture industry to consider not only aquaculture production but also environmental consequences as part of their standard operating procedures. Finally, Hal has co-opted a generation of ecologists to share leadership in these initiatives and has entrained them in his vision of ecology as a science that joins with other disciplines to provide a rigorous foundation for a more sustainable future for ecosystems and society.