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World Science Festival – Why only one Earth scientist?

May 29, 2008

Columbia University physicist and author Brian Greene is the co-organizer of the World Science Festival (May 28th-June 1st, 2008 ) in New York City. Greene is a true champion of science appreciation and communication. He is still the only person I can find that talks about string theory in a way my feeble mind can grasp.

Greene and journalist Tracy Day co-founded this organization and spearheaded this festival. The mission statement for the festival states:

To cultivate and sustain a general public informed by the content of science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.

What a fantastic idea … and it is at the right time. I have a feeling we’ll need more of these events to combat the ever-growing anti-science movements around the world.

But … (there’s always a ‘but’) … I’m a bit perturbed about the dearth of Earth scientists that are speaking at this event.

Check out the list of speakers for the event. There are ~125 people listed and only one Earth scientist (oceanographer Sylvia Earle). Maybe there are a few more that one might include in the list of practicing Earth scientists (e.g., planetary scientist Christopher McKay), but, by and large, those that focus on the physical systems of the planet we live on are essentially absent.

There are numerous speakers from the arts (e.g., directors, choreographers, etc.) and journalism (e.g., authors, radio show hosts, etc.). There are plenty of physicists, neuroscientists, philosophers, and even a few priests. Don’t get me wrong … this is great! It’s extremely important to bring together scientists and non-scientists for an event like this where the value and excitement of science is being celebrated.

But, maybe a climatologist … a geophysicist or geologist perhaps … just one or two to add to the mix.

Just sayin’.

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