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GEO Vision: Unraveling Earth's Complexities through the Geosciences


Society stands at a crossroads. With growing problems such as resource depletion, energy sustainability, environmental degradation and climate change, can we protect the health of the planet while achieving widespread economic prosperity?

So asks a report released today by the National Science Foundation (NSF)‘s Advisory Committee for Geosciences (AC-GEO): GEO Vision: Unraveling Earth’s Complexities through the Geosciences.

For most of its history Earth has experienced vast alterations, states the report, in response to natural variations in our planet.

Humans, however, are now emerging as the dominant agent of change.

“It is essential going forward that we have the scientific tools and evidence to understand and anticipate how the Earth will be transformed in the future, and at what rate, in response to these growing pressures,” says geoscientist George Davis of the University of Arizona, chair of the AC-GEO.

“To identify these influences and their potential impacts requires an understanding of the Earth, its history, and its systems that’s grounded in basic science—a science that probes and ultimately defines the Earth’s character.”

Such basic research is the domain of the geosciences, which seek to advance a better understanding of Earth and its systems, states the GEO Vision report.

In the United States, NSF is the sole research agency, believes the AC-GEO, with the disciplinary breadth to comprehensively address these diverse challenges.

“It is NSF’s geosciences directorate that must engage other NSF directorates and external partners in an ambitious research program that furthers our understanding of Earth, and provides the basis for objective and sound policy formulation and decision-making,” says Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF director…