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Disaster Science

April 21, 2015

How can scientists better prepare for natural and man-made disasters?



Deepwater Horizon April 21 2010 flickr US Coast Guard Ideum CC BY-SA 2.0

The Deepwater Horizon Oil rig on April 21, 2010. (Image taken by U.S. Coast Guard, courtesy of Ideum, flickr/Creative Commons License BY-SA 2.0)

Science vs. disasters. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. As director of US Geological Survey at the time, Marcia McNutt observed how scientists can work together successfully to respond to a crisis. Now the editor-in-chief of Science magazine, she champions the idea of bringing scientists from different fields together to prepare for disasters before they happen.

MARCIA McNutt (Science/AAAS):

I noticed during Deepwater Horizon a number of questions came up that are not specific to an oil spill. It could have been an earthquake, a hurricane, a chemical spill; a lot of these are very common no matter what the disaster.


Like how to rapidly provide the best science to first responders or how to talk to the press.


Everyone can learn from everyone else’s disasters. That’s what will knit the community together.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.