Northeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 44-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


SIEGEL, Donald, Department of Earth Sciences, Syracuse Univ, Syracuse, NY 13244

In the first half of the 21st century it is very likely that climate change will continue to be driven by human activities. Global economic and political constraints preclude the quick building out of sufficient renewable energy to provide baseline power for, at least, massive urban cities containing most of the world’s population. In turn, large regional environmental disruptions in the United States likely will be exacerbated and our may have to spend substantive resources to rebuild and develop new infrastructure--but with no clear vision of how much money will be needed or from where it will come.

Under this scenario, it is plausible that the National Science Foundation and other Federal funding arms could move traditional support for curiosity-based science to multiple “Manhattan” style multidisciplinary projects designed to generate, protect, and move large amounts of potable water; buttress and otherwise protect coastal areas from seawater intrusion and flooding, and redesign forestry and agricultural practices to adapt to extreme climate fluctuations.

The mere existence of interesting and even fundamental curiosity-driven problems in the geosciences may no longer guarantee federal research dollars to explore them. Therefore, to obtain federal funding, geoscientists may have to develop publicly compelling arguments why to do the research in light of fiscal pressures to address serious environmental stresses, and increasing demand to obtain domestic sources for rare elements needed for strategic energy and critical electronics.