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Have your say on the future of Earth science

earth science.jpg

By James Dacey

What is the most important research question in Earth system research that needs answering in the next decade? Why?

These two questions have been posed by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in cooperation with the International Social Science Council in a new online survey.

Responses are being encouraged from scientists but the “Earth System Visioning” project is billed as an open, moderated process where absolutely anyone can chip in. What’s more you can suggest as many questions as you like just as long as you don’t repeat previous suggestions.

If you’re interested in posting a question you’ll have to get in before midnight on August 15th. You can also comment on the questions posed by others and this feedback will be analysed at a workshop in September, which will feed into a draft research strategy. A second meeting will take place in May 2010 to take on board feedback and then a finalized research strategy will be presented later that year.

So who are the ICSU and what do they hope to achieve with this document?

Well, unless you’ve been trapped in a time warp, it’s pretty obvious by now that environmental research programmes – and those related to climate change in particular – tend to be formed at a confluence between natural science, politics, and economics.

Amongst the ICSU’s funders are UNESCO and the US National Science Foundation and a lot of the science that went into the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) came ICSU-funded programmes.

The idea with their latest web consultation process is to help shape the environmental research agenda for the next 10 years, whilst encouraging the social sciences to play a more active role.

Is it a good idea?

Well, I saw the Age of Stupid yesterday – a new film about the imminent and severe threat of climate change – and if its gloomy forecasts are right then I really hope this ICSU survey is well thought out.

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  1. DennisA

    Imminent and severe threat of climate change? What a strange sentence. Climate change is a reality, we are currently entering a cooling phase, as we did in the 60’s and 70’s. Thank goodness we have left behind the Little Ice Age with centuries of extreme weather, famine and loss of life. Stupid films like the Age of Stupid add nothing to public debate, they are yet more propaganda efforts to try and convince the public that something is happening when it isn’t, namely rapid warming of the planet and dangerous sea level rise due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. These things are not happening in spite of increasing CO2 levels.

  2. Imre von Soos

    The 1972 Club of Rome Report was already menacing enough to act on its recommendations on the spot (e.g. stop the population growth there and then at three billion) and still hope for the best. Instead of acting on it positively, the subject of population explosion became a taboo since then, thanks to the Roman Catholic Church and the catholic and communist countries.
    Earth System Research, without recognising its pathology as the actual human social, political and religious systems, will consist but of more self-deluding. The degeneration of humanity has created the problems, the degenerated humans with their cockeyed worldviews are the problems, and a healthily thinking humanity is the solution. Consequently, the task of those who honestly intend to make at least an effort, must be based on the general recognition of the fact, that the Planet is suffering from the exploitive actions of an overwhelmingly parasitic species, which has lost its organismic function in its life-community, and took increasingly more and more advantage of each other and of the rest of the planetary life, disturbing its dynamic equilibrium, reducing the Planet’s life-force and reversing its evolutionary trend.
    When will this anthropocentric so called humanity realise that the actual climate change is only one minor consequence, and that the task does not involve the creation of circumstances that are needed to build a homogenous ‘Homosphere’ out of an unruly conglomeration, whatever that may cost to our Planet, but the creation of circumstances that are needed to reinstate our Planet into a healthy life-community with a spiritually motivated, mentally productive, ethical, equilibrated and physically healthy and active new human species as an integral constituent of and in harmony with that life-community, whatever that may cost to an unruly conglomeration?


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