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Mexican scientist accepts top US environment award, amidst strained US-Mexico relations

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IMAGE: Professor José Sarukhán, The Tyler Prize 2017 Laureate. In a private ceremony, on Thursday, May 4, the Tyler Prize Executive Committee and the international environmental community honored Professor Sarukhán at... view more 

Credit: Jon Black

Washington DC, May 5, 2017: Mexican ecologist José Sarukhán last night used his acceptance speech for the world's highest environmental honor, the Tyler Prize, to challenge the Trump administration's attitude towards science.

He particularly criticized the administration's' plan to build an impermeable wall between the US and Mexico.

"If this wall is built, many mammal species, such as Jaguars, will not be able to move freely in their original territories. This will not only lead to genetic isolation -- in some populations, that could potentially mean extinction."

Professor Sarukhán addressed the proposed border wall in the context of international scientific collaboration. He was being recognized for his establishment of CONABIO -- a world-first federal institution charged with protecting national biodiversity.

"A society that develops fear of independent science cannot advance at the pace which its growth and needs demand. A sound and enlightened government must support excellence and and independent scientific activity... for the global good," the 2017 Tyler Laureate said.

Professor Sarukhán called for the US to return to the evidence-based thinking that founded one of the most advanced democracies in the world.

"Scientific integrity must underpin public policy-making -- and it must be adequately funded. This is precisely what has made the US the great nation that it is at the moment: a world class public scientific research in all fields, together with the strongest system of research-based universities in the world."

At this 44th Tyler Prize Award Ceremony, Professor Sarukhán accepted his gold medal award, a plaque, and a check for $200,000 US. The black tie formalities were preceded by a panel featuring two leading US environmental scientists -- Jane Lubchenco and Harold Mooney. The panel, Translating Research Into Policy Action: How Can Environmental Science Move Forward Quickly? was moderated by John Iadarola, host of the political news network, The Young Turks.

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Click here to download a press kit including photos of the Award ceremony and lecture, as well as a video of Professor Sarukhán.

About the Tyler Prize

Established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is one of the first international premier awards for environmental science, environmental health and energy. Recipients encompass the spectrum of environmental concerns, including environmental policy, health, air and water pollution, ecosystem disruption and loss of biodiversity, and energy resources. The Prize is awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California. For more information on the Tyler Prize go to: http://www.tylerprize.org

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