Engaging and Educating the Public on Environmental Science

We are delighted to have Dr Srimathy Sriskantharajah, the Associate Publisher of Life Sciences, and Chris McEntee, Journal Development Editor, to wrap up the Earth Week 2017 by telling us how important engaging and educating the community is when it comes to protecting our environment.

Environmental issues such as climate change, food security and resource management, are global concerns with everyone – whether they are scientists, government officials or the general public – playing key roles in contributing to the problem and, we hope, in providing solutions. It is therefore important that everyone is accurately informed of the science behind these issues.

It is not enough for scientists to simply publish their research in a scientific journal and hope that the general public, or even fellow scientists, will stumble across it, read it and understand the importance of the results. The science needs to be distributed globally to reach everyone, and in such a way that it can be digested by people with varying degrees of understanding of scientific concepts. Open access does help in making research available to everyone, but this is no good if people cannot understand the impact of the research. If people do not understand something, they mistrust it, and this leaves them open to people who can eloquently misrepresent the science.

That is why I would encourage scientists working on environmental issues (although this can apply to all sciences) to make their research results ‘accessible’ both in terms of open access and in language. This would entail community engagement via writing in popular media (such as blogs), talking to science reporters either via radio or TV interviews and going out there to talk to public groups, schools etc.

Engaging the community is a big step in educating the community on environmental issues, and would prevent scientific research from being misrepresented.

Earth Week 2017 is one way that SpringerOpen and BioMed Central are engaging with the community, to help educate them about some of the most recent and important research we have published in environmental sciences. This week we will be showcasing some of the articles published across a range of journals, as well as hosting blog posts written by some of our Editors who are experts in their field.

Earth Week 2017 will follow four main themes: Plants, Trees and Forests; Sustainability and Sustainable Energy; Pollution; and Environmental and Climate Literacy. These themes cover a breadth of published environmental research and are key to tackling some of the biggest environmental issues facing modern society. The last theme, Environmental and Climate Literacy, in particular is very important as it involves information and education of environmental issues which is representative of this very campaign. It is also the theme of this year’s Earth Day, an annual drive for environmental awareness, and the inspiration behind Earth Week 2017.

The open nature of Earth Week 2017 can only be fully realised if the information shared here is also shared by those who read it, whether that be through blogs, Facebook or Twitter, or simply by word of mouth. If you read something this week that you find interesting, or that teaches you something you didn’t know before, then be sure to pass it on in the spirit of true open access.

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