Geoscientists Rank Top Critical Issues for Society

From AGI  --  Critical Issues Program Releases Preliminary Results of "Defining Critical Issues" Survey - Geoscientists rank top critical issues for society: climate change, water, and population and health.

Alexandria, VA - Climate change is the highest priority issue facing society, according to geoscientists, decision makers, and public citizens who responded to an online survey conducted by the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding at the American Geosciences Institute. Water, human population growth and health issues, and energy were also listed as issues needing immediate attention by all groups of respondents.

The majority of responses were from geoscientists in the post-secondary academic sector. This group ranked climate change as the highest priority issue that requires immediate attention; water as the next most important issue; and human population growth and health as the third highest priority. Energy was cited frequently as a critical issue but geoscientists did not rank it among their top three priorities. The number of responses from the public and the decision-making community was substantially smaller than from geoscientists. Climate change was again the highest priority and, while the priority of issues varied between the groups, water, human population growth and health, and energy were the second or third choices as critical issues.

"There is a dynamic relationship between geoscience topics, such as water and energy resources, natural hazards, climate change, environment, etc., and human populations that is recognized across the geoscience, public, and decision making communities." said Dr. P. Patrick Leahy, Executive Director of the American Geosciences Institute which houses the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding, "This highlights the importance of establishing strong communication pathways in order to provide timely, accurate geoscience information to decision makers and the public."

The aim of the web-based survey was to understand how the decision-making community, geoscience community, and the public defined the term "critical issue," as well as which critical issues were of top concern to each community. The report can be accessed from the Critical Issues program webpage.

The Critical Issues program serves as a hub that facilitates the exchange of ideas, inquiries, and relevant geoscience information between decision makers, the public, and the geoscience community. The "Defining Critical Issues" survey is one of several surveys that the program will be conducting to identify where geoscience information is essential in addressing societal concerns.