San Francisco Magazine introduces the "greenest building on Earth" and a few of it's well-traveled researchers


The Academy of Very Concerned Scientists

San Francisco Magazine
Story by Andy Isaacson
Photographs by Alex Farnum
October 2008


Before it even opened its doors, the Academy of Sciences’ convention-defying new home was already famous for being the greenest building on Earth. But few are aware that it houses 46 well-traveled researchers who are also toiling 24/7 in the fight against global warming. The question is: How can a bunch of specimen-gathering wonks in a natural-history museum help solve the most urgent environmental crisis of our time?

Healy under the rainforest

Healy Hamilton: The preservationist

Healy Hamilton’s curiosities pull her in various research directions, but a passion for conservation guides all her work. At Palmyra, a remote atoll in the central Pacific, she and a consortium of inter­national researchers are studying octopi living amid pristine coral reefs to make the case for coral-reef protection worldwide. Rain forest deforestation sparked her interest in Amazon river dolphins. And back in San Francisco, the biologist is studying the effects of climate change on bio­diversity in this country. The academy’s specimen collections—a vast storehouse of biological data spanning centuries—provide valuable information about species’ historic and current habitat ranges. With computer models, Hamilton uses this data to project likely shifts in response to global warming. Ultimately, this information helps government and environmental agencies decide things like where to create pathways to protect shifting animals and plants. “We are addressing really important questions,” Hamilton says.


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