Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:55 PM
GEOGOVERNANCE - PREPARING FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE
In 2010 Chile experienced the strongest earthquake worldwide since 2004. However, this MW8.8 event resulted in surprisingly little loss of life or damage to infrastructure. In contrast, the MW7.0 Haiti earthquake a few weeks earlier caused widespread destruction and a high death toll. Although there are inherent geological differences in both areas that determine how an earthquake may generate specific site effects, these dramatic events emphasize how different political-administrative systems are not equally well prepared to react to such natural disasters. Indeed, countries most vulnerable to natural hazards are not necessarily those in the zones of greatest danger, but rather those with a lack of knowledge and institutional capacity to respond to changes within the Earth System. This may also apply to predictable steady-state processes and rapid change that leads to unstable conditions associated with the effects of Climate Change and the extraction of resources. Even in technologically advanced societies governance challenges remain that demand a well-trained workforce capable of bridging the gap between the geosciences and politics as societies are confronted with complex natural and policy problems. Although the geosciences have augmented our understanding of the processes underlying such changes, attempts to translate scientific findings into political strategies for coping with change often fail. This problem results from the difficulty in translating scientific knowledge into practical solutions and also from inflexibility and lack of knowledge among administrations attempting to deal with change on different timescales. Understanding and coping with inherent uncertainties in the Earth System, however, is a prerequisite to ensure the safety and economic viability of an increasingly complex global society. An important step in ultimately reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity would be requiring geoscientists to better combine and communicate geoscientific knowledge and to promote geoscience literacy in the realm of political-administrative organizations. In this context the next generation of geoscientists can play a pivotal role in an effort to help administrations confront risks and opportunities of change and move toward a geogovernance of preparedness.