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Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Jess Phoenix

Field geologists usually love camping, hiking and all things outdoors. Today, Jess Phoenix is no different, but she wasn’t always that way. As a child growing up in Colorado, she bucked traditional backpack-wearing pursuits. “I would take the horses on trail rides and that was probably the most outdoorsy thing that I did,” Phoenix says. Instead, she took after the athletic interests of her parents, both FBI agents, playing “every sport under the sun.”

11 Dec 2017

Comment: The Congressional ecosystem: A paleontologist's perspective

AGI’s William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellow gains a better understanding of the mechanics behind federal policymaking by taking a paleoecological view.
09 Nov 2017

Geologic Column: Alternative history: Earth in a funhouse mirror

If a particular historical event had turned out differently, how might subsequent history have changed? 
18 Aug 2017

Volcanoes and historical politics

As well as influencing art and faith, volcanoes are often portrayed as the very manifestation of the human condition. Expressions of anger are readily described as “volcanic.” They have become a metaphor for anything of suitable magnitude or wrath. One such painting sees a volcano become the embodiment of the French Revolution.

28 Jul 2016

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

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

Why is the U.S. so insecure about its energy security? Measures of energy independence show it is increasing, not decreasing

In recent years, every time an election has rolled around, politicians have espoused the necessity of energy independence and energy security. According to them, if we are to achieve the necessary level of energy security we need to “drill, baby, drill,” develop “clean coal,” install new pipelines, develop renewable energy, make sure our cars get better gas mileage, or [fill in another sound bite of your choosing here]. A listener could easily conclude that the U.S. lacks energy security. But what do the numbers tell us about our current state of independence?

28 Apr 2013

Voices: A growing need for geoscience diplomacy

“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world … we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek.”

With this speech in June 2009 at Cairo University in Egypt, President Barack Obama outlined a new program to promote U.S. cooperation in science and technology initiatives with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. Obama appointed six science ambassadors to follow up on these cooperation initiatives.

28 Jul 2011

Is it time to invest in entrepreneurial geoengineering?

Government research and development has its limits: Time, money and bureaucracy can all hamper the timely progress of research. As a result, many federal agencies are looking to private companies to help drive new innovation and keep costs down — but it’s never that simple. Two current hot-button topics — returning humans to space and geo­engin­eer­ing — highlight a range of issues related to how private and public investment in science can coexist. Last month, we looked at NASA’s push toward privatization.

02 Aug 2010