11 November 2014
Read coverage of the verdict in AGU’s newspaper, Eos
Washington, D.C.—The following statement is attributable to Christine McEntee, Executive Director and CEO, American Geophysical Union:
The October 2012 conviction of Italian scientists on manslaughter charges in connection with the L’Aquila earthquake was alarming to the worldwide scientific community, and today’s acquittal is an important step in sanctioning the role scientists play in advising governments and communicating the results of their research to the public. Scientists must be able to exchange data and information in an unfettered manner and make good-faith efforts to present the results of their research without fear of prosecution – something the original conviction threatened.
The impact of the L’Aquila earthquake was profound and serves as a reminder of how critical it is that scientists work together with engineers, government officials, and other stakeholders to understand the impacts hazards have on the communities we serve and to communicate that knowledge to the public so they can prepare.
We have much to learn from the L’Aquila tragedy – particularly as it relates to the effective communication of risk to the public – and the scientific community must now dedicate itself to implementing those lessons for the betterment of society.
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Joan Buhrman: 202-777-7509, 571-213-3812 (c), firstname.lastname@example.org