Geographical sciences identify top 11 questions for coming decade

As the world moves toward a population of 10 billion by 2050, how can society manage and adapt to the transformation of Earth’s land surface?

WASHINGTON —  The National Research Council has released a report containing 11 questions for geographical sciences research in the coming decade.

The report acknowledges that we live in a time when populations are moving and natural resources are being depleted.  The  questions aim to provide a more complete understanding of where and how landscapes are changing to help society manage and adapt to the transformation of Earth’s surface.

The geographical science community provided input to a committee, which then wrote the report.  They were attempting to identify research priorities and the approaches, skills, data, and infrastructure necessary to advance research, but the questions are important for all of us.

1. How are we changing the physical environment of Earth’s surface?

2. How can we best preserve biological diversity and protect endangered ecosystems?

3. How are climate and other environmental changes affecting the vulnerabilities of coupled human-environment systems?

4. Where and how will 10 billion people live?

5. How will we sustainably feed everyone in the coming decade and beyond?

6. How does where we live affect our health?

7. How is the movement of people, goods, and ideas changing the world?

8. How is economic globalization affecting inequality?

9. How are geopolitical shifts influencing peace and stability?

10. How might we better observe, analyze, and visualize a changing world?

11.  What are the societal implications of citizen mapping and mapping citizens?

The report was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Geographic Society, and Association of American Geographers. Click here for a pdf containing more information.

Source: National Academy of Sciences

Deborah Byrd