Thursday, April 05, 2012

Not in the Loop. I just found out John Ogden died. By Geniusofdespair

John Ogden in 2009.

I read the Miami Herald this morning and found out John Ogden died on Saturday.  I didn't know him well although I did speak to him a few times and we certainly recognized each other.  I  listened to him speak at dozens of meetings and was very impressed with John's presentations.  He was "one of the world's leading authorities on wading birds" and in his role as a scientist for the South Florida Water Management District he helped shape the plan to restore the Everglades.

The Florida Environmental movement has lost a giant. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.

This passing brings me to a sad realization: The environmental movement is made up of aging stars. Who will take over and who will have the institutional memory to protect Florida's fragile ecosystem?

To make matters worse, with Rick Scott as Governor, most of the Scientists have been fired from the South Florida Water Management District.


Geniusofdespair said...


I was fortunate enough to have caught John's quiet (and almost unbearably sad) lecture on the "State of the Birds" a few years back at Tropical Audubon's Doc Thomas House. Had a chance for a long chat afterwards. John's life was inextricably linked to his subject. So sad to hear that he's gone.

During the lecture, John criticized simple bird "science" which made assumptions on the number of acres a given nesting pair of birds required (wish I could remember the species he mentioned) - and could be left with after a given development went in. However, John explained that this particular species was also a social animal - and the number of acres per pair wasn't the whole story. Other nesting pairs of the same species had to be present as well for the habitat (and nesting) to be viable.

John also described what the south Florida landscape looked like - literally giving the listener a bird's eye view. It was John's research that led to that famous line about the Everglades having lost 90 percent of its wading birds - but he also explained the reasons why.


Geniusofdespair said...

I took this off an Everglades Listserve:

Though I didn't see him often once he left Audubon the first time, I have a pretty vivid memory of almost every conversation I had with John after that. His insight on issues of Everglades ecology was the one I most valued in the local scientific community, and a lot of policy makers felt the same way, which was one reason he had so much influence for what ever's good in the restoration process so far.

As a wildlife biologist, he bought into the ecosystem approach wholeheartedly, and he championed the Conceptual Ecological Models as a tool that provides some structure in what would be a more chaotic and piecemeal process than it is. He will be sorely missed.

Dr. Michael Ross
Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Environment
Southeast Environmental Research Center

Anonymous said...

I did not know of Mr. Ogden, but I read his article to the end this morning and felt very moved by his accomplishments and contributions to the environment.

May God recieve and bless this good man!

Geniusofdespair said...

Thank you last anonymous for honoring him...

Anonymous said...

A soft spoken gentleman from Tennessee who always had a twinkle in his eye. He would graciously help neophytes like myself better understand the current crisis in the Everglades. We will sorely miss you John.

Anonymous said...

I never met John, but knew him by his fine reputation. I did meet his daughter Laura once, at an event for her book “Gladesmen”. She was very impressive which, for me, added even more to John’s status as a good man. I am sure he was very proud of her, and she of him. I was sad to hear of John’s passing. Who is going to replace the John Ogdens?