Reply to Comments on “AGU Statement: Investigation of Scientists and Officials in L'Aquila, Italy, Is Unfounded”

Authors


Abstract

It is critical to recognize the benefits and limitations of scientific knowledge, particularly when it comes to predicting hazards. I agree with G. J. Wasserburg that AGU should help scientists communicate their work accurately and understandably so it can provide the greatest value to society. This objective is explicit in AGU's new strategic plan (http://www.agu.org/about/strategic_plan.shtml) and is consistent with our vision of both advancing and communicating Earth and space science to ensure a sustainable future.

We as a community have an obligation to increase the role of science in informing policy to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters. Such efforts require an open exchange of ideas and information and a clear understanding of the limitations of our knowledge. In response to Flavio Dobran, I agree that scientists are not above the law and, like all citizens, must be held accountable for their actions. However, laws and lawmakers must also recognize what science can and cannot do. We cannot yet reliably predict precisely when earthquakes will occur.