Members of the Earth Systems Science Agency can predict the future, monitor the weather and control satellites. They have a loosely-defined connection to the U.S. government and several cutting-edge labs, and possess "geologic, biologic, hydrologic and geospatial expertise." Whoa, is this new super-team going to knock the Avengers and JLA right out of the sky as they defend the Earth? Nope, the Earth Systems Science Agency is actually real. U.S. scientists and federal officials hope it will become a mega-environmental group that can mobilize and quickly respond to ecological threats.

Don't expect giant machines that can purify the atmosphere or nanotech that can reverse global warming just yet. The U.S. government has yet to approve the fledgling agency which would unify several independent researchers and university labs with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Basically, it would be an Earth-monitoring super-group whose goals are to research and solve humanity's crimes against the biosphere.

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USGS director Charles Grote, who is helping to put the group together, isn't quite as grandiose when explaining the ESSA's mission:

The USGS, in bringing not only its geologic, biologic, hydrologic and geospatial expertise to the understanding of natural systems, but also its research capabilities in energy, mineral, water, and biologic resources, gives the new organization a comprehensive perspective on both environmental and resource systems. If we effectively link these capabilities with those of NOAA, we will have a powerful research institution

But David Rejeski, former member of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is thinking bigger:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has demonstrated the value of funding high-risk, high-reward research and development. ESSA should foster similar ventures in the environmental arena.

Given the kinds of projects that have come out of DARPA, including the internet and swarm robots, Rejeski is clearly hoping for giant robots who can cool down the oceans or clean up chemical spills. That's what we're hoping for too.

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Earth Systems Science Agency, we have a planetary emergency! Help us before it's too late!

Image from Earth Sons.

Organizing an Earth Systems Science Agency [Nature via Eurekalert]