Published by the American Geological Institute
News and Trends in the Geosciences
April 2000

From the Editor

Welcome to the fifth annual Geoscience and Public Policy issue of Geotimes, a collection of perspectives from the range of policy activities in which geoscientists are engaged and that affect both their science and profession. This year's issue is particularly special as it marks a major change for Geotimes. For the first time in its history, the magazine is being printed in full color from front to back, giving readers the most dynamic presentation possible.

And to better serve its readers, Geotimes is offering significantly increased discounts off its base subscription: 40 percent for the membership of AGI's 35 member societies and 65 percent for geoscience students. We are also striving to make subscribing easier with secure ordering at on the Web and with reply cards in the magazine. Our goal is to encourage more geoscientists, and future geoscientists, to join in the Geotimes dialogue across disciplinary boundaries, celebrating the shared interests of our profession.

This month's authors cover the breadth of the interaction between geoscientists and the making of public policy: federal budget policy, the balance between resource development and environmental protection, natural hazard mitigation and fundamental research.

As befits a policy issue, our Comment comes not from a geoscientist but from the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. Long a vocal supporter of investment in scientific research (a fan of paleontology, he also had a T. Rex skull on loan from the Smithsonian in the Speaker's office), Gingrich calls on scientists to make their case for that investment to their fellow citizens.

Craig Schiffries discusses the current state of mining law with particular reference to the recent National Research Council study, Mining on Public Lands, which he directed. He describes the study's key findings and the challenges of turning recommendations into reality.

Tim Cohn and Kathleen Gohn of the U.S. Geological Survey report on lessons learned from the Public Private Partnership 2000, a series of forums organized by the White House Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction and the Institute for Business and Home Safety. The partnership brought together all parties having a stake in hazard mitigation to map out a national strategy for making hazard reduction a public value and improving resilience to disasters in the United States and abroad. Such meetings are a case in point of the need for geoscientists to get out and work with a whole range of other stakeholders, thus fostering a better understanding of the information and analysis they can provide that will be truly useful for lessening the destruction of natural hazards.

Our third feature is an interview with the new head of the National Science Foundation's Geosciences Directorate, Dr. Margaret Leinen. She joins the foundation at an exciting time, tasked with carrying forward the largest dollar increase requested in the agency's history. Leinen outlines a number of new initiatives and her goals for the directorate, specifically in the context of her role as Director Rita Colwell's point person for coordinating environmental research at NSF.

On a different note, we are fortunate to have well-known mystery author and sedimentologist Sarah Andrews discussing the value of a geoscience degree in the second installment of the new For Students column.

David Applegate                                        Kristina Bartlett
Acting Editor                                             Managing Editor

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