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Comment: Supersites: Sharing geoscience data for science and society

In 2005, the United Nations developed the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) program, a collaboration of 89 institutions and organizations that sustain comprehensive Earth-observing capabilities for the benefit of humankind. One of GEO's programs is the Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories initiative, which is focused on sharing spaceborne and other geophysical data to understand geohazards and to promote preparedness and hazard mitigation.

22 Jan 2015

Comment: Preparing for the volcano in your backyard: New Zealand sets an example

Preparing and planning for a potential volcanic eruption can help communities cope with fallout and manage the human response when eruptions do happen. Auckland, New Zealand, is working on just such a plan that can serve as an example to other cities facing potential volcanic hazards now or in the future.

26 Dec 2014

Comment: IPCC faces challenges in communicating climate science

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released piecemeal over the last year, reports “unequivocal” warming of the climate system due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, further emphasizing the need for global mitigation and adaptation schemes. But not everyone is ready to curtail carbon emissions, and the increasing clamor from skeptics and deniers — along with potential overstatements and even understatements by scientists — creates a polarized political environment that complicates efforts to communicate science effectively.

05 Nov 2014

Comment: Building sanctuaries to increase civilization's resilience

Asteroid impacts, supervolcano eruptions, global pandemics, nuclear war and cyberterrorism: Each could cripple or destroy the foundations of civilization. Perhaps humanity should invest in its future by building archival sanctuaries to safeguard civilization in the event of catastrophe.

17 Sep 2014

Energy 360: Moving energy - No easy feat, but a vital conversation

Trucks, trains, planes and boats move food, clothing, cars, wood, steel, medical products, smartphones, bicycles, organic milk, free-range chickens—basically all consumer goods. And energy is no exception. Coal is mined and then carried to where it is burned. Oil and natural gas are moved from where they are produced to where they can be refined into transportation fuels and myriad other products, and then moved again. Uranium is mined and transported to create fuel rods for nuclear power plants or nuclear-powered ships.

23 Dec 2013

Tackling "Boundary Faults" across the Alaska-Yukon border: A report from the field

Our two dusty trucks roll across the airstrip, casting long, late-May shadows down the runway. We spot our colleagues from the Yukon Geological Survey and realize we’ve found the right place after an exhausting 12-hour drive from Anchorage punctuated by several U-turns to find the right unmarked access driveway off the Alaska Highway at the south end of Kluane Lake. The evening air is crisp, and the towering peaks to the south are capped with snow.

15 Oct 2013

Energy 360: Leaving our corners for the radical middle: New Zealand sets an example

Energy underpins every aspect of modern life, yet it is often a source of conflict in society. Thus, considering the political ramifications of energy policies is both inevitable and important. But separating politics from science and economics can be difficult, in part because everyone, including me, has biases. Bias in and of itself is not bad; some might even consider it an unavoidable byproduct of knowledge (or the lack thereof). The challenge with energy policy discussions is to manage bias and potential conflicts of interest and conscience.

13 Sep 2013

Core skills in the geosciences: The geoblogosphere chimes in on what students need to know

Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY Buffalo) about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department.

13 Aug 2013

Voices: Italian quakes and deaths point to industrial facilities as death traps

On May 29, eighteen people died in northern Italy when a magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck near the town of Mirandola. Arguably, these deaths were preventable, and they bring up the questions of how we can prevent such deaths in the future. Building codes are key in protecting people. If the most modern buildings collapse while old ones remain standing, something is wrong.

06 Jun 2012

Voices: Making tough decisions in a changing climate

World leaders are beginning to realize that planning for and adapting to our changing climate must become a priority of national governments. But what does that mean, in practical terms, for planning and policymaking, and for the day-to-day business of government? Do standard decision-making practices need to change? If so, how?

07 May 2012

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