This Friday 26 October 2012 at 14:00 CEST we will host an online discussion about the consequences of the recent L’Aquila earthquake trial. Contribute by following the EGU’s Twitter account (@EuroGeosciences) and posting using the hashtag #eguAquila on your tweets. Please email the EGU’s Science Communications Fellow Edvard Glücksman if you have any further questions.
On Monday, an Italian judge sentenced seven members of Italy’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, six scientists and a former government official, to six years in jail for manslaughter for providing “inexact, incomplete and contradictory” information to the public before an earthquake hit the town of L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009. Prosecutors in the case argue that 29 of the 309 deaths in the earthquake could have been avoided had people not been reassured by one of the experts that the situation was “normal” and that they should stay in the area. Critics argue that the role of science is not to make decisions about public welfare but, rather, to present information about hazards to decision-makers, who can then decide how best to proceed with mitigation strategies.
The EGU’s Division on Seismology has reacted to the verdict on their Division page with a statement that provides some insight on the possible consequences this case may have for the dialogue between science and society, and for scientific research itself.
How do you think this verdict will affect the science community? Will it affect you personally? If so, in what ways? And what effects will it have on the relationship between scientists, policy makers, and Europe’s legal system?
Speak your mind this Friday on Twitter!
You may find the following articles of interest for the discussion:
- Scientists on trial: At fault? (Nature, 15 September 2011)
- Seismologists found guilty of manslaughter (New Scientist, 22 October 2012)
- Conviction of Italian Scientists May Hinder Open Discussion of Seismic Risk (American Geophysical Union, 23 October 2012)
- Italian court ruling sends chill through science community (Reuters, 22 October 2012)
- Seismologists’ trial likened to persecution of Galileo (AFP, 23 October 2012)
- For more articles, check Google News.