Environment

Oct 26, 2012

Why scientists should, sometimes, be on trial

The jailing of six scientists over a deadly Italian earthquake sent shock waves through the science community -- but maybe that community should accept greater responsibility for how they communicate, argue science writers Upulie Divisekera and Will Grant.

On the April 6, 2009, following months of minor tremors and seismic swarms, an earthquake of magnitude 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the Abruzzo region of central Italy. More than 300 people perished in the early hours of that terrible morning, as medieval buildings in the town of L’Aquila collapsed. At least 40,000 were made homeless. Three years later, the town still has not recovered.

This week, another seismic shock passed around the world. Six Italian scientists were sentenced -- for six years jail, each -- for failing to adequately warn the residents of L’Aquila of the dangers they faced.

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