The voluminous scientific program at this week's 20,000-scientist American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting is generally drier than Gale crater on Mars. But
professor of geophysics and complex systems Brad Werner of the University of California, San Diego, has livened things up with a suggestive title talk,
scheduled as part of a session tomorrow called "The Future of Human-Landscape Systems II." Drawing on Werner's computer modeling of the relationship
between human society and environmental systems, "Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for
Sustainability via Direct Action Activism" makes some disturbing conclusions. (Asterisks are included in the official title of the talk, which can be
accessed by search.) "[T]he dynamics of the global coupled human-environmental system
within the dominant culture precludes management for stable, sustainable pathways and promotes instability," Werner's abstract says. This appears to
suggest the answer to his provocative question, then, is yes. The talk, to be delivered tomorrow afternoon, is being recorded for on-demand viewing later
this week. At press time, AGU had not responded to a request for comment about the title. In response to a query from Science, AGU Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee states: "Our program committee evaluates the scientific merit of
the abstracts and accepts those that meets their criteria. Our scientists are free to create the titles of their sessions."
See more ScienceShots.*Update 11:50 a.m., 5 December: This item has been updated to include a statement from AGU's executive director/CEO.