What is going on? Well the largest earth science related meeting this side of the pond is under way, and its Europe's flagship conference the European Geosciences Union in Vienna 28th April to 2nd May. Why is it important? It brings together scientists from around the world presenting, discussing and showcasing the state of the art in research about our planet. Should I be interested? Well it's your planet as much as it is the earth scientists trying to better understand it. Is it important? Topics about the Earth past and present will be presented and discussed including, climate related studies, volcanic hazards, earthquakes etc., you name it there will be something on about it. Given how much the earth is changing, it's good to keep tabs on what is really going on. More importantly, the people there are the world experts, so you can really see what things are being talked about, and what state of the art research is going on to tackle it. The EGU meeting happens every spring and is a complimentary meeting to the other big Earth Science gathering the American Geophysical Union AGU, which is on every December in San Francisco. Both meetings are huge with over ten thousand delegates (the AGU has sometimes topped twenty thousand), so it's hard not to fine some research going on about almost any topic about the earth.
In practice it is one of the hardest things for the scientific community to get across, speaking to the general community and getting it's science across to the general public. With modern communication trends such as blogs, twitter etc., there are now many ways to access information from such big scary meetings without having to pop along and present yourself. The EGU are trying to make access to its content as easy as possible with a media wing providing key links, webcasts and twitter updates. You can even hook up directly with the meeting through web-streaming. Ultimately it is up to us to be actively involved in better understanding how our planet works, questioning the science we fund towards this goal, and lobbying our politicians to take note of the way the Earth is changing and how we can best mitigate things like climate change and natural hazards. I am off there myself to talk in a session about 'Volcanism, Impacts, Mass Extinctions, and Global Environmental Change', looking at how the largest volcanic events in Earth's history helped shape our planets evolution. If we can understand what happened in the past, we may be able to predict better the changes associated with future massive volcanic events. Please take a look yourself at what is on at the EGU meet, follow up your interests and even find out how you might be able to get involved in future meetings if the science of the Earth interests you. These meetings should not be seen as just the realm of scientists, and a chance for them to pat each other on the back and display results from the latest machine that goes PING (Monty Python pun there). The 11,000 + scientists there need feedback, need the support of the general public, and are usually more than enthusiastic to try to explain what they are up to. Rock on Europe, your Earth needs you :-)