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Science For A Changing World

9 minutes

(male narrator) For more than a century, the USGS has been America's leading science agency. Over the years, the science has changed as the world has changed.

In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a bill establishing the U.S. Geological Survey. Clarence King, a geologist, was the first director. He chose to emphasize mining geology. In 1881, explorer, geologist, and geographer John Wesley Powell took the reigns. Topographic mapping became the focus, supported by paleontology, the study of fossils, and stratigraphic studies of rock layers. In the 20th century, as America grew and changed, the USGS provided reliable scientific information critical to decision-making. In times of war, defining mineral resources. In times of peace, mapping geology, investigating water resources, and pioneering breakthroughs in fundamental science. The astronauts who landed on the moon in 1969 were trained in geology by the USGS. The Survey embraced new tools, broadened fields of inquiry, and expanded research overseas. The USGS maps, understands, and forecasts earth processes and changes as no other agency can. Today the USGS is tackling some of the world's greatest scientific challenges. Based out of science centers and satellite locations, USGS scientists are scattered throughout the 50 states and territories. Researchers collect and interpret data from thousands of sampling sites, conducts hundreds of research projects, and utilize extensive remote sensing capabilities. Out of that work, complex science becomes understandable, invaluable knowledge for the public and critical to decision-making. The focus of the USGS revolves around six science mission areas. Not simply pop-trends, they are some of the most significant challenges facing society today-- issues where science can make a substantial contribution to the well-being of the nation and the world. Ecosystems are biological communities of living and non-living things interacting in a place. They constitute the earth's biosphere and support human existence. Resilient, functioning ecosystems build soil, enhance crop pollination, support food webs, purify water, cycle nutrients, detoxify waste, and regulate the atmosphere. The USGS conducts research and monitoring to develop a fundamental understanding of ecosystem functions. Studies cover the physical and biological components and dynamics for freshwater, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems and the human and fish and wildlife communities they support. The USGS conducts research and assessments on the location, quantity, and quality of mineral and energy resources. This work includes the economic and environmental effects of resource extraction and use. Research projects cover the environmental impacts of human activity that introduce contaminants into the environment and threaten human, fish and wildlife, and ecological health. How do humans impact climate change? What are the effects of land use changes large and small? The USGS undertakes scientific research, monitoring, remote sensing, synthesis modeling, and forecasting to address the effects of climate and land use change on the nation's resources. Every year in the United States and around the world, natural hazards cost lives and billions of dollars in damage. The USGS provides policy makers and the public with a clear understanding of natural hazards and their potential threats to society. Scientists' work helps develop smart, cost-effective strategies for achieving preparedness and resilience. Society depends on fresh and reliable water supplies, as do diverse and fragile ecosystems. To understand the nation's water resources, the USGS collects hydrologic and water quality information and provides access to water data publications and maps, as well as to recent water projects and events. The mission of Core Science Systems is to translate data into formats that are understandable and accessible. The USGS provides ready access to natural science information to the nation and the world. Based on the data, smart decisions can be made about how to manage natural resources and respond to risks. Today our nation and the world face enormous challenges. Humans have created conditions that may threaten the sustainability of life as we now know it on planet earth. Science must play a role in addressing these threats. The USGS as the premier natural science agency is uniquely poised to make a difference. The USGS excels in high-quality science and delivers results on a daily basis. In these critical times, the demand has never been greater. More than ever, decision-makers need reliable scientific information to help make informed decisions. Since its beginnings in 1879, the USGS has a long and distinguished tradition of scientific contributions. Science for a changing world. The challenges then and now share a common thread. They affect the quality of life and the environment throughout the nation and around the globe.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Presents a brief history of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as well as the significance of its work and mission in today’s world.

Media Details

Runtime: 9 minutes

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