The Earth Portal is a comprehensive resource for timely, objective, science-based information about the environment. It is a means for the global scientific community to come together to produce the first free, expert-driven, massively scaleable information resource on the environment, and to engage civil society in a public dialogue on the role of environmental issues in human affairs. It contains no commercial advertising and reaches a large global audience.
The Earth Portal has three components:
- The Encyclopedia of Earth, with over 2,000 articles, is produced and reviewed by 700 scholars from 46 countries.
- The Earth Forum provides commentary from scholars and discussions with the general public.
- The Earth News offers news stories on environmental issues drawn from many sources.
Scope of the Earth Portal
The scope of the Earth Portal is the environment of the Earth broadly defined, with particular emphasis on the interaction between society and the natural spheres of the Earth. The scope of the Earth Portal thus includes:
- The hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, magnetosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere, and their interactions, especially in regards to how these systems support life and underpin human existence.
- The living organisms on Earth that constitute its biological diversity.
- The interactions and feedbacks among society, biological diversity and the physical systems of the Earth. This includes the social, economic, political, behavioral, technical, cultural, legal, and ethical driving forces behind environmental change.
- Those parts of traditional disciplines that investigate the environment or its interaction with society. This includes the natural, physical, and social sciences, the arts and humanities, and the professional disciplines (education, journalism, business, law, public health, engineering, medicine, public policy).
- The interdisciplinary fields of environmental science—natural and social—that integrate concepts, methods, and analytical tools from multiple fields in the investigation the environment or its interaction with society. Examples include:
– Environmental physical sciences such as atmospheric sciences, Earth systems science, remote sensing, biogeochemistry, oceanography, and other non-biological terrestrial sciences. – Environmental life sciences such as environmental biology, ecology, forestry, fisheries, marine biology, agriculture, aquaculture, and related fields. – Environmental engineering and other sciences related to the impacts of natural and anthropogenic activities on the environment, including assessment, prevention, control, regulation, remediation, and restoration. – Environmental social sciences such as ecological and environmental economics, environmental sociology and history, and other fields that study human social and cultural activities which affect, and are affected by, environmental conditions. – Environmental data and information sciences that deal with the collection, storage, standardization, integration, analysis, and management of data related to the analysis of the environment or environmental change.
The People and Institutions Behind the Earth Portal
All material in the Earth Portal is approved the Stewardship Committee of the Environmental Information Coalition (EIC), the governing body for the earth Portal. The EIC is comprised of a diverse group of respected scientists and educators, and the organizations, agencies, and institutions for which they work. The EIC defines the roles and responsibilities for individuals and institutions involved in the Coalition, as well as the editorial guidelines for the EarthForum, EarthNews, and the Encyclopedia of Earth.
The EIC is governed by its own set of bylaws and an International Advisory Board with renowned scholars from diverse fields.
The Secretariat for the EIC is the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE),
Washington D.C., USA. NCSE is a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization with a reputation for objectivity, responsibility, and achievement in its promotion of a scientific basis for environmental decision-making.The Department of Geography and Environment and theCenter for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University also provide administrative support.
The Earth Portal was created with ManyOne Networks, a company to be owned and governed by the non-profit ManyOne Foundation. ManyOne is building a Public Internet Media Service - a service that empowers non-profits, companies, agencies, and individuals to build and operate financially self-sustaining web portals and communities.