Paper No. 253-7
Presentation Time: 3:05 PM
GET UP—STAND UP!...PROACTIVE OUTREACH AS NECESSARY AND INFORMATIVE RESPONSES TO “CRISIS” AND “CHRONIC” GEOLOGICAL EVENTS
It is urgent that geoscientists provide active, sustained, “loud,” and yet reasoned, voices to events in today’s society, in both crisis and chronic contexts. We must proactively embrace opportunities for outreach to community members and decision makers about geological matters that impact society. I would argue that geologists should be held accountable to respond to crisis environmental events, just as the public rightfully expects to be informed by the medical community about the recent Ebola crisis, the economics community about global market concerns, or the social science and legal communities about escalating racial tension and police brutality. Universities remain an ideal forum to disseminate timely information about current events. National and international scale examples of opportunities for “crisis” educational outreach include Hurricane Katrina impacts, the Japan tsunami and nuclear plant breach, and the tangible impacts of global change. Recent regional crises include the Charleston, WV chemical spill and impacts to public water supplies, the Oso, WA mass movement, flooding along the Rocky Mountain Front, and regional drought. From a more “chronic” perspective, it is no secret that the critical role of our science in education, resource use, environmental quality, and public policy/geopolitics is frequently “under attack” from diverse groups in our society. The simple presence of an evolution vs creationism “debate,” the widespread denial of data supporting anthropogenic impacts on global climate, explicitly targeting geoscience initiatives for funding cuts by federal lawmakers, and inexcusable limits proposed for environmental protection and regulation “in the name of economic development,” all speak to the immense need our society has for sound geoscience guidance. Unfortunately, these should come as no surprise, given the general absence of Earth science education in our public schools. We have to work harder to make up that deficiency. I am reminded of these lines from Bob Marley’s song GET UP, STAND UP…“Most people think, Great God will come from the skies, take away everything, and make everybody feel high.” Society expects to be informed by disciplinary experts on current events; Geologists need to provide that same service, particularly, and especially, when not asked for it!