By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 2, 2008 10:25 am

BTTF.pngAs tickets are going fast for the New Kids On The Block tour, Harrison Ford is starring as Indiana Jones in the summer’s first blockbuster and a movie about Batman and the Joker nears premiere. Big hair is in and we await a President named George Bush out. There’s conflict in the Middle East and a Mars Lander set to explore the red planet. Paula Abdul is driving the music industry, Madonna is topping billboard charts, and J. Crew’s promoting jelly shoes as the summer’s hottest accessory.

Oh. And it’s 2008 this time around.

Now that I’m in my late 20’s looking back at the sunset of the 1980’s, I can’t help but recognize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And despite all the dismal news about our environment everyday, I suspect that the planet will be alright if we make smart, informed decisions in policy and practice right now.

Yes, over time the world will evolve into a very different earth than we’ve known, but like Doc once told Marty, our future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Our future is whatever we make it. So let’s make it a good one.


Comments (6)

  1. Don’t forget that the Police are touring again….

  2. Sciencefan

    Your writings almost always brighten my day. Your last few lines from Back To The Future is exactly how we all should feel.

  3. Joe

    The Back to the Future town square was destroyed in the Universal Studios fire yesterday.

  4. So, Miss Sheril, what future should we create? Which future do we need to create? And at what level will we create that future – local citizen, national politician, world corporation? It is these questions taht both vex and excite me. You too I suspect.

  5. Things are better now: violent crime is at an all-time low, declining for 15 years. There are no more crack wars. Teen pregnancy’s also at all-time low, declining for years. Gangsta rap died two years ago, and hip-hop / r&b are back to the hedonistic good ol’ days of disco and ’80s rap.

    I haven’t seen big hair become popular, but I’m in the Mountain Time Zone, so it may take away for the epidemic to spread here. Jelly shoes — ditto. Were the original jelly shoes $45, though? Jesus.

    I just pray we don’t have another ’90s decade where identity politics, PC, and mopey music strangled popular culture.

  6. Luna_the_cat

    Ah, the 80s — the decade of gleeful overconsumption being hailed as good, because it made us feel good about ourselves; not to mention crushing national debt, irresponsible fiscal policy, and an international policy which a few years later came back to bite us in a big way. I was in my late teens/early 20s those years, and although I remember how fun it all was, I remember the darker side of it as well.

    Sorry to rain on the nostalgia parade. I’ve just come back from viewing one hell of a lot of bleached coral and crushing poverty around Mombasa. I suspect this sours my attitude somewhat.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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