Readers of EPN do not need reminding that in the last year Earth processes wrought tragedy on a scale rarely witnessed. That scenes from each disaster reached TV screens globally within hours does seem to have been a wake-up call to geoscientists to at least try to make the next event trigger more timely and efficient assistance, hopefully with clearer advance warning. The year has seen increased understanding of seismic processes in general, and the beginnings of greater co-ordination among scientists concerned about natural hazards. Yet we live in a world with more chronic tragedy too: millions dead or whose lives have been shattered by the anarchy in Congo from the scramble for diamonds, gold and even the tantalum used for boom-time cellnet ‘phones; more still across Africa lack water to drink safely; and mineral booty continues to support repressive regimes, that hold back and disrupt most people’s aspirations and talents.
It is not hard to see that geoscientists have a central role that they could play in alleviating such blights, given the will – we certainly have the time as well as the skills to use and share.