Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

News

Day One at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting

Posted: December 12, 2017

Day One at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting

Many of the Climate & Space faculty and researchers are attending the annual Fall Meeting of the American Gepphysical Union in New Orleans this week. Watch this space for updates from the conference this week. 

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center sprawls along the New Orleans riverfront due south of the French Quarter. The building covers ten city blocks, and is an enormous warren of meeting rooms, large and small; large event rooms; a theater; and vast exhibition halls.

Through December 15, the Morial Convention Center will be home to one of the largest gatherings of the scientific community in the world: the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. In their own words, “The purpose of the American Geophysical Union is to promote discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity.”

And so, each year, scientists and researchers representing a multitude of disciplines in Earth and space sciences from across the globe travel to the AGU Fall Meeting to present research results, meet with associates, collaborators, and colleagues, and attend any number of events intended to facilitate an open exchange of ideas and information.

According to AGU President Eric Davidson, this year’s annual meeting has drawn over 21,000 registered attendees. Conference attendees will attend five days packed full of seminars, meetings, oral presentations, keynote speeches, poster presentations, and films. 

Monday’s highlight was the President’s Forum with special guest speaker, veteran journalist Dan Rather. The event was held in the New Orleans Theater in the Morial complex, and was nearly filled to capacity with people keen to hear what Mr. Rather had to say about current affairs as they pertain to the scientific community.

And he did not disappoint. For the next 25 minutes, Rather spoke about the importance of science in serving the public good and solving the problems facing society. He talked about the “perilous” time facing the scientific community, and the country in general, and he drew parallels between the fact-based approach of journalism and science, as well as how both fields have historically been, and continue to be under threat from those with a specific agenda.

But while Mr. Rather did not mince words about his view of the times, neither were his words colored by despair. In fact, he said that while it is always important in journalism and science to sometimes take a skeptical view, he warned against developing ”bitterness.” Cynicism, he said, has no place in science or journalism.

In summation, Dan Rather exhorted scientists to continue to conduct clear research, and share evidence-based results. Our future, he said, depends on it. Mr. Rather received a standing ovation. 

Stay tuned for more from AGU 2017 tomorrow!