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'Is Earth F**ked?' AGU Scientist Asks

4 December 2012 5:05 pm
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Eli Kintisch/Science

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."

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*Update 11:50 a.m., 5 December: This item has been updated to include a statement from AGU's executive director/CEO.