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Why is the American Geophysical Union (AGU) powering TEX? And what does ‘powering’ mean?

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The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is an international professional society of over 61,000 Earth and space scientists who study everything from the deep interior of the Earth to the surface of the sun – and even the solid, liquid, and gas parts of other planets.   (If you’ve read carefully, you’ve just realized that AGU isn’t only American, it covers way more than geophysics, and it isn’t a Union in the typical sense.)

That’s a lot of smart people with expertise that would be helpful in an era when our future as humans is inexorably intertwined with the future of our planet.  While our fate has always depended on the planet, the sale of our interaction has changed.  We are more vulnerable than ever before.  Because of urbanization, for example, huge numbers of people are vulnerable to a single event – think of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian Tsunami. For the first time, we have the capacity to alter the future of our entire Earth – we’ve never before been in a position to affect the whole planet.  This is what we mean when we, as scientists, talk about the ‘Anthropocene’.  It is also why TEX is focusing first on community science related to climate change, natural hazards, and natural resources.

This high-stakes intertwining of human and natural futures brings with it a tremendous moral and social responsibility to make good decisions, and that means bringing all relevant information and perspectives to the table.  TEX is about helping AGU actively step up to that responsibility. It is about helping AGU members find effective ways to bring their expertise to a series of local conversations around these global issues.

AGU is powering TEX because we don’t want it to be an AGU thing – we want it to welcome scientists from other disciplines, informal and formal community leaders from all walks of life, and foundations and other NGOs with a vision for integrating scientific information into real-world challenges.  AGU is trying to plant seeds that will grow, and we want to work with partners to help grow those seeds. Powering means AGU is willing to put up some start-up funds, but TEX’s success depends on finding other investors – whether that investment is time, money, or other expertise.

Last thing: AGU is celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2019, and we’d like TEX to be a key part of that celebration – and a key part of the vision for the next 100 years.

raj pandya subscriber

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