Science for the people

It??s good to see India finally decide on setting up an Earth
Commission: a panel of meteorologists, geo-physicists, oceanographers,
atmospheric and space scientists to study and understand the dynamics
of the monsoon. According to C.N.R. Rao, chairman of the PM??s science
advisory council, the panel will be organised along the lines of the US
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Japan Agency
for Maritime-Science and Technology.
Almost three-quarters of all natural disasters ?? floods, tropical
cyclones and droughts, forest fires and epidemics ?? are weather or
climate-related. Natural as well as human-induced disasters influence
environment and sustainable development agendas of all countries but
their impact is often particularly severe here in the subcontinent,
because of the inscrutable monsoon. While no one can prevent an
earthquake or a hurricane from occurring, or a volcano from erupting,
what one can do is to apply available knowledge and technical knowhow
to, say, augment the earthquake resistancy and wind-resistance of
buildings and bridges, and issue early warnings to organise community
response to such warnings. As the Asian tsunami showed, more accurate
Earth and sea observation can help policy-makers reduce the impact of
such events. Fortunately, over the last two decades, scientific
knowledge of the intensity and distribution of natural hazards ?? and
the technological means of confronting them ?? have expanded greatly.
That said, even sophisticated early warning systems only become
effective with free and unrestricted exchange of meteorological data.
People at risk should not only receive forecasts and warnings but also
be equipped to assess the information, understand the risks, and
respond timely. Hopefully, the new initiative will play a pivotal role
in designing and implementing effective public policy for disaster
(Credits  The Hindustantimes)

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