IUSS Alert 7 (November 2005)

Information for and from the global soil science community

Abstracts due 1st December

Abstracts for a talk or poster at the 18th World Congress of Soil Science should be submitted before 1st December! All symposia are listed in the Final Announcement - PDF downloadable from the IUSS Website and the Congress website here.

World Council of Science  China 18-22 October 2005

The World Council of Science (ICSU) was held in Suzhou in October 2005. The Secretary General attended on behalf IUSS. The discussion at these meetings is always wide ranging and includes a large number of essentially administrative matters, but also on capacity building, sustainable development and environment, hazards and the universality of science. There was a long discussion in response to a resolution from the US National Academy of Sciences about 'Intelligent Design'. The conclusion was to condemn the teaching of Intelligent Design or Creationism and dismiss it as a rational alternative to the Theory of Evolution. Within the ICSU Scientific Union Members, IUSS is grouped, for electoral purposes, with Earth and Space Science Unions. This group of unions has now developed closer ties and had a formal meeting in Shanghai prior to the ICSU meeting and a series of informal discussions during the meeting. These meetings and discussions enabled us to develop a strategy to ensure that the voice of our unions was heard within the debates and decision making processes, and was successful. A new member of this group, INQUA, was elected to ICSU Membership. In addition to these Earth Science contacts, the Secretary General participated in discussions with a number of Biological Science Unions on an ICSU supported Initiative on the Science of Health and Wellbeing and held informal discussions with IUPAC about establishing closer ties. The meeting was interesting and it is hoped that these links with the Earth Science and other Unions will continue between meetings, not just at the ICSU Meetings.

Stephen Nortcliff, IUSS Secretary General

IUSS Elections for Division and Commission officers 2006-2010

Details about the Elections for Division and Commission Officers have now sent to all National Bodies, either electronically or in paper format. For the first time in the history of IUSS we are seeking to widen the electorate.  Elections now take place prior to the World Congress of Soil Science. The Statutes charge National Bodies (normally the National Soil Science Societies) with organising the election amongst its members and returning the result to the Secretary General. Your National Body (normally National Soil Science Society) should be contacting you in the next few weeks to seek your vote. It is aimed have all returns from National Societies by the end of February 2006 and the results will be published on the Website and in the Bulletin. For questions on the procedures please contact Stephen Nortcliff at

World Association of Soil and Water Conservation

The World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWC) invites you to be Guest member until mid-March 2006, with the following benefits:

-         Access to online publications, multi-language WASWC Newsletter and the Journal of the WASWC (JWASWC) on www.waswc.org or http://waswc.ait.ac.th Use waswc and waswc8641 as username and password. You are also welcome to publish in the JWASWC.  You will receive a copy of our Special Publications: 'Pioneering Soil Erosion Prediction: USLE Story' (2003), 'Carbon Trading, Agriculture and Poverty' (2004) and 'No-Tillage Agriculture' (2005). You will have access to thousands of pictures of soil and water conservation on http://community.webshots.com/user/waswc

The membership fee of WASWC is only US$5-10 per year, and Organization membership fee less than 1 dollar/ person/ yr.

Samran Sombatpanit, WASWC Acting President

Special Issues Soil Science Journals 2004 - 2005

Currently more than 14,000 articles are published each year solely or partly focusing on soils. Most are published in soil science journals but increasingly soil science articles appear in other types of journals. We also see an increase in Special Issues which often include useful reviews and summaries of developments in a particular area. I would like to give an overview of Special Issues that were published in 2004 and 2005 in the IUSS Alerts. If you were involved in a Special Issue could you provide the following details:

Please send this information before 1st January to  

IUSS Website

The IUSS Website with about 10,000 visitors per month has been overhauled and restructured. Information on IUSS activities, people and congresses is listed as well as an overview of upcoming meetings and reports of past meetings. In addition there is a new section on SOIL PUBLICATIONS which contains all the book reviews of the past 6 IUSS Bulletins, a list of soil science book publishers, the favourite books of various colleagues, information on soil science journals, soil encyclopaedia, and links to 9 soil glossaries. Under SOIL INFORMATION you'll find links to soil data and information, software and models, soil museums, soil societies, soil policies and various links for tropical countries.  If you have information to share or websites of interest please send us the information and we'll add it to the IUSS website.

The complete works of Charles Darwin will be online soon here. It will include 42 volumes, and hundreds of shorter publications. His notebooks will also be digitized and all texts will be searchable. Darwin was one of the first to write on soils and earthworms - a classic text still widely quoted in earthworm papers.

Also the correspondence of Darwin and Einstein was recently reviewed (Nature vol. 437, page 1251). During their lifetimes, Darwin sent some 7591 letters and received 6530; Einstein sent more than 14500 and received 16200 letters. Staggering numbers - similar to the number of e-mails of today's scientists?

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