Thursday 25 October 2012

A forward look for Earth Sciences (and keeping frogs in a wheelbarrow)

I have just come back from a meeting that BGS organised on behalf of the European Earth Sciences community in Paris. For the first time we managed to get senior scientists from all sectors of the earth sciences together to design our needs for the future: these ranged from the Geological Surveys  through the major agencies delivering earth sciences research to some of the brightest scientists, both starting out and senior, recognised as fellows by the European Research Council

With the breadth of egos in the room, "herding cats" or "keeping frogs in a wheel barrow" come to mind as expressions. Well, we managed to achieve a lot and the output of the meeting will be open to the community to comment on, with an outward facing statement on the types of research and infrastructure needed for our science and its importance and impact being prepared for European Geosciences Union 2013.  This will be coupled with an earth science community based document representing our road map as a guide for the future; both for funding, but more importantly, for consolidation of  the community and sharing of infrastructure and creation of joint science programmes in which the spectrum of our scientists from government agencies to research in universities and the private sector will share.

I thought that the director of Earth sciences from the French CNRS, Michel Diament and one of the co-organisers summarised our aims well in stating that:

People like to dream: about the origin of the Earth, the universe and life.
People Want to be safe: from natural hazards especially catastrophic events
People want to be comfortable: to have a secure supply of energy, water and raw materials

Earth sciences research helps underpin all of this.

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