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Stark warning emerges from science summit

Thanks to Helga Vierich for the link.


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A Nasa Earth Observatory image shows city lights. A stark theme emerged from an annual scientific get-together in Vancouver: the world must be helped to believe in science again or it could be too late to save our planet.

A stark theme emerged from an annual scientific get-together in Vancouver: the world must be helped to believe in science again or it could be too late to save our planet.

Science is "under siege," top academics and educators were warned repeatedly at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting as they were urged to better communicate their work to the public.

Scientific solutions are needed to solve global crises -- from food and water shortages to environmental destruction -- "but the public now does not understand science," leading US climate change expert and NASA scientist James Hansen told the meeting.

"We have a planetary emergency, and very few people recognize that."

The theme of the five-day meeting, attended by some 8,000 scientists from 50 countries, was "Flattening the world: Building a global knowledge society."

"It's about persuading people to believe in science, at a time when disturbing numbers don't," said meeting co-chair Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University in this western Canadian city.

Experts wrangled with thorny issues such as censorship, opposition from religious groups in the United States to teaching evolution and climate change, and generally poor education standards.

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An Arctic fox hunts in Norway's Svalbard close to Ny-Aalesund, a former coal-mining settlement and the most northerly village in the world. It has become an International Centre of Research.

"We have to plan for a future, considering the risk of climate change, with nine to 10 billion people," said Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert famous for combating scientific ignorance with catchy YouTube videos.

Rosling, pointing to charts showing how human populations changed with technology and how without science the majority of a family's children die, said it is naive to think that humanity can easily go backward in history.

"I get angry when I hear people say: 'In the rainforest people live in ecological balance.' They don't. They die in ecological balance," he said.

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TAGGED: CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, SOCIETY


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