Earth Science Week
"We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster."
— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996.
While scientists know that human actions have global implications, recent research has shown that human impact on Earth is considerably more complex than first thought (see, for example, Houghton et al., 1996). Although this knowledge renders public consciousness of geoscience issues increasingly more important, the public has not had sufficient access to scientific facts or thought processes to allow them to make educated decisions on lifestyle and resource allocation. This has led to the creation of a society that often makes short-term, reactive decisions based on little — or, worse, incorrect — scientific data. However, recent public interest in geoscience issues presents each and every geoscientist with an exciting opportunity to participate in creating a discriminating, educated society committed to the responsible use of Earth and its resources. GSA urges each of you to set aside at least one day during Earth Science Week to reach out to your community.
Creating a general public that respects and utilizes appropriate scientific research requires a commitment from the scientific community to improve science literacy. GSA members are uniquely equipped to assist in this effort by using the language of the general public to effectively communicate:
- Critical thinking skills with which the public can effectively separate accurate scientific data from pseudo-scientific propaganda
- Factual geoscience information directly related to the quality of human life.
Teaching these basic skills and knowledge to the public helps citizens make more informed decisions not only about geoscience issues, but also about other aspects of their lives. Making better decisions improves the quality of people's lives, which, in turn, benefits each of you as geoscientists, because the public only allocates resources to support projects and skills that it views as valuable to society.
Houghton, J.T., Meira Filho, L.G., Callander, B.A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., and Maskell, K., editors, 1996, Climate change 1995: The science of climate change: Cambridge, UK, University of Cambridge Press Syndicate.
Excerpt from: Cunningham, W., 1999, Earth Science Week 1999, October 10–16: Teach them to tell truth from trash. GSA Today, v. 9, no. 9, p. 8. [[Full Sept. 1999 issue]]