Publications included in this section.
The tsunami that took place on 26th December 2004 in the Indian Ocean and hurricane Katrina, that last August struck the Mexican Gulf, are two recent natural events that turned into catastrophes for mankind, causing several thousands victims. One of the reasons behind this can be traced back to the fact that useful information in the hands of scientists and experts did not reach the right people within the right time. A crushing defeat for risk communication was witnessed in these two recent events. All the more paradoxical since we live in what we like to name “the era of communication and information”.
The historian Marshall Berman wrote that living in modern times means "to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation [...] and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know".
The death of Pope John Paul II, the "Polish pope", in Rome and the subsequent election of Benedict XVI, the "German pope", have been two great events gaining world-wide media coverage and affecting the whole world. This was due to Karol Wojtyla's ability to reach everyone's heart thus once dubbed the "Great Communicator" and to the Vatican's spiritual, cultural, and political influence all over the world. The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI also concern science and science communication issues.
Many lives could have been saved on 26 December 2004, when the tsunami unleashed by an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 off the coast of the Indonesian island Sumatra struck a dozen coastal villages along the Indian Ocean. Those lives could have been saved if, on that day, science communication had not resulted in a complete failure to communicate scientific information adequately in many cases, in different places and at different levels. A long time passed between the violent shock and the devastation caused by the tsunami waves in most cases, many hours.
The question was raised in the 4th November copy of The New York Times when it entitled the editorial of Garry Wills (political and cultural historian), regarding the re-election of George W. Bush, "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out". Wills' theory, with which the directors of the newspaper palpably concur, is that Bush was re-elected because "many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution".
In the name of God is the heading chosen by some researchers from a Middle Eastern country for their posters in an international conference on chemistry which has recently been held in Paris. This powerful message preceded the results of the researchers' work on the morphology, molecular structure, as well as the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of advanced polymeric materials. It was an unexpected statement, an unusual message, though certainly not an unprecedented one. It had nonetheless a striking effect in the context of a scientific conference attended by thousands of people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Free information works. In the sense that Open Access Journals, scientific journals which can be accessed at no cost, thereby guaranteeing free access to everyone, are at the same time able to guarantee the same quality as or even better than- that of traditional journals, which can only be read by those willing to pay a price, be it the cover price or a subscription.
On 16 January 2004, the United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan launched a Global Media Aids Initiative, with the aim of convincing the press, radio, television and Internet to join the fight against what has been called the "forgotten disease of the forgotten continent". Throughout the world, over 40 million people have the Hiv virus. In 2003 there were 5 million new infections and 3 million deaths were caused by Aids.
The incident of Scanzano Jonico, in Italy's Basilicata region, has been something more than a lesson for those who handle the relationships between science and society. During November and December 2003 in this small southern Italian town a theory has been proven false. According to this theory, in the modern world, the best way to solve the problems put before society by science and technology would be for the experts to discuss them behind closed doors.
On June, the 23rd of last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Draft Report on the Environment, a report on environmental quality. The EPA is an autonomous federal agency known for its reliability on environmental studies and safeguards. Its Draft Report is considered by Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the nation's most scientifically reliable analysis on environmental quality.