Many people come to science research, especially hazards science, because they want the results of their work used to improve the human condition. However, as the climate change debates have shown us, the gulf between a research result and a public policy can seem impossibly large. This talks looks at the impediments to the translation of science into action and approaches that scientists can take to span the gulf. My work with policy makers for seismic safety suggest two important principles. First, we need to be sure what science is ready for public use. If it is still “cutting-edge”, it is probably not yet a consensus. Second, we need to remember that we, as scientists, were not elected to make public policy decisions. Our job is to make sure that those who were elected to make these decisions understand the implications of their decisions without making the decisions for them.
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