IUSS Alert - 9 (January 2006)

Information for and from the global soil science community

18th World Congress of Soil Science

This will be the first World Congress held in the USA since 1960.  Every effort is being made to make your participation and attendance worthwhile. The venue is excellent, the program is comprehensive, and there are scientific, professional, social, cultural, and historical activities for all.  The WCSS program activities include pre-, post-, and mid-congress professional tours, workshops, and companion and family cultural/history activities found on the Congress web site www.18wcss.org

    The deadline for registration and payment for professional tours is February 1, 2006 (extended from January 15, 2006). Descriptive detail on each of the tours offered is given on www.18wcss.org You do not need to be registered for Congress to participate in a professional tour.

    Over 2500 abstracts have been submitted for program planning. Convenors/co-convenors will organized these abstracts into oral and poster symposia sessions by February 1, 2006. Authors will be notified of their presentation format shortly thereafter.

    Register now and save money.  Registration fee for Congress increases from $550 to $650 on May 1, 2006.

European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World (EuDASM)

The Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IES) in the European Commission (Italy) and ISRIC - World Soil Information initiated the European Digital Archive of Soil Maps (EuDASM). The objective is to transfer soil information into digital format, with the maximum resolution possible to preserve the information of paper maps. Soil maps are now scanned and available for Africa, Asia, Canada, Caribbean islands, Europe, Latin America, and the USA.

Beyond data rescue, the archive aims to develop into a common platform for storing soil maps from around the world and making the information readily accessible. Organisations that maintain soil map archives in paper form, and wishing to conserve this information by transferring it into digital form, are invited to join the EuDASM programme.

Work is on its way to complete the archive in order to achieve global coverage, and further activities include the georeferencing of the on-line maps, to convert raster to vector for GIS applications, and to integrate the maps into (European) soil information systems.

Click here for more information and the maps!

2008 - Year of Planet Earth

The IUSS, as one of the founding partners, is very happy to announce the decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim 2008 as the UN Year of Planet Earth. The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a Resolution by the United Republic of Tanzania and co-signed by 82 nations, to proclaim 2008 as the UN Year of Planet Earth. It designates the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to organize activities to be undertaken during the Year, in collaboration with UNEP and other relevant United Nations bodies, the International Union of Geological Sciences and other Earth sciences societies and groups throughout the world.

The Assembly encourages Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to use the Year to increase awareness of the importance of Earth sciences in achieving sustainable development and promoting local, national, regional and international action. The International Year of Planet Earth will be a triennium, starting in 2007 and closing by the end of 2009, with the UN Year of Planet Earth 2008 in the centre.

For more information click here

2006 - Year of Deserts and Desertification

The United Nations launched its International Year of Deserts and Desertification to raise global public awareness of the advancing deserts, of ways to safeguard the biological diversity of arid lands covering one-third of the planet and protecting the knowledge and traditions of the 2 billion people affected by the phenomenon. The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) stressed the importance of recognizing that in addition to the human and environmental cost of the degradation that contributes to the problem, the drylands are the location of some of the most magnificent ecosystems of this world: the deserts.

Desertification and drought cause an estimated loss of $42 billion a year from agricultural production, contribute to food insecurity, famine and poverty and can give rise to social, economic and political tensions that can cause conflicts, further impoverishment and land degradation, according to the Convention's Secretariat. It is widely recognized that environmental degradation has a role to play in considerations of national security, as well as international stability. Therefore, desertification has been seen as a threat to human security.

The Convention's 10th anniversary will be marked in December 1996. Currently, the Convention counts 191 states parties, making it one of the most representative instruments on environmental protection stemming from the 1992 Rio "Earth Summit."

For more information click here

Going to meetings pays-off

No science without scientific meetings. Sometimes the usefulness of scientific meetings is being questioned: too costly, ineffective and most people have internet or even electronic conference facilities. So why bother spending time away from the lab and office?

The time and money spent attending small scientific meetings is more than paid back through accelerated research, suggests a survey of 1,013 participants by a conference organizer. "The presumption is that meetings are beneficial, but the actual data to say that something positive happens are pretty scarce," says James Aiken, of a non-profit meetings organization in Silverthorne (USA) that carried out the survey. Researchers who attended symposia on molecular and cell biology in 2004 and 2005 later saved six weeks of research time and US$6,000 in funding, according to median figures from the survey. The data represent a rare attempt to quantify just how effectively small meetings spur research. Meeting attendees said that conferences that are small and highly interactive have particularly high pay-offs compared with larger, more impersonal meetings.

From: Nature: Nature 438, 264-265 (17 November 2005) | doi:10.1038/438264b

Plagiarism, fabrication, falsification

Fraud is a big issue in science, just think of the stem-cell cloning fraud and its massive media attention. Now there is a new journal coming up that looks at various aspects of scientific fraud. International in scope, Plagiary: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Plagiarism, Fabrication, and Falsification is a new scholarly journal devoted specifically to the study of plagiarism, fabrication and falsification in the professional literature (i.e. scholarly journals and books) and popular discourse domains (i.e. journalism, politics, audio-visual texts). There has been tremendous interest in these issues but the publications seem to be 'all over the place'. This new journal will bring together existing strands of scholarship and create a point of focus for lively discussion, ongoing debate, and presentation of research results. For further information see www.plagiary.org

For a discussion on fraud and ethics in soil science publications see Bulletin of the International Union of Soil Sciences 97: 36-45 (2000) or for requesting a PDF of the article.


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