Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


ROWAN, Linda, External Affairs, UNAVCO, 6350 Nautilus, Boulder, CO 80301 and WYSESSION, Michael, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, Campus Box 1169, 1 Brookings Dr, St. Louis, MO 63130,

“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice” written by philosopher Will Durant in an essay entitled “What is Civilization?” is an apt introduction to an abstract focused on geoscience serving public policy. Geoscientists and policymakers use geoscience to mitigate hazards and manage resources. The role of geoscience and geoscience-related agencies such as United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to inform public laws on hazards and resources is outlined with some historical context as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Geological Society of America (GSA). The USGS, formed in 1879, is one of the oldest and most essential science agencies for hazards mitigation and resource management. The DOE, formed in 1977, is one of the youngest and most essential science agencies for nuclear waste and energy resource management. The timing of the formation of these agencies reflects the changing priorities of the nation from exploration of newly acquired lands to innovation in energy resources.

Throughout this rich history of geoscience discovery and application, natural and human-made hazards have challenged American society and driven (sometimes abruptly) public policy. Society’s ability to advance will depend on the effective use of geoscience knowledge for informing public policy. GSA was formed in 1888 through the efforts of prominent geoscientists and policymakers working together to advance science and technology. GSA supports the geosciences and geoscience serving policy, including a chapter in the anniversary volume and this presentation. GSA’s relevance to the intersection of geoscience and policy will likely continue for another 125 years because as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, "Change is the only constant."

  • rowan-gsa102713final.pdf (11.4 MB)