EGU announces end of General Assemblies – 2012 in Vienna to be the last one

An EGU official yesterday announced the end of the union’s annual general assemblies. The upcoming meeting in Vienna will be the last one. “It’s a general problem and has nothing to do with less interest by the scientific community”, Mrs Elena Weichenbergert from the organizing committee said. “We always had an increasing number of registrations, and the scientific level was high in every meeting.” According to EGU officials, the meeting just became too expensive over the last years.

Behind the scenes of EGU: The daily wine reception is the highest cost factor.

“To be honest, it is the daily afternoon wine reception that is the most expensive lot in the meeting budget” an EGU secretary who wanted to remain anonymus stated. “We faced an increase in wine consumption from 10,345 l per day in 2008 to 17,324.5 l per day in 2011. That goes along with tremendous costs since we always served the finest selection from local and ecologically produced wines.” The wine reception is said to make up 51.5% of the meeting’s budget. EGU officials thought about higher inscription fees but decided not to do so, because the registration is already expensive. The so called “Abstract fee” was introduced to face the actual problems. However, it turned out last year that still many institutes registered hundreds of virtual PhD students which never existed, just to push the attendance statistics. A whistleblower from RWTH Aachen University told paleoseismicity.org: “It’s a simple logic – if there are more virtual registrations, there will be more real wine for less people! That’s worth a 40€ abstract fee, isn’t it?” Last year’s EGU already has seen some turmoil in poster halls X and Z when the staff had to announce that no more bottles were left, but the meeting security managed to crackdown the protests.

EGU’s announcement led to positive reactions world wide. A WHO spokesperson stated: “We have applied pressure on the meeting organizers since 2008 when the wine problem became public first. It’s a matter of public health and role models for children. The children are our future.” Local Austrian breweries also support this decision. In contrary, the Austrian Wineries Association (AWA) announced legal actions against EGU: “The annual meeting in Vienna accounts for almost 42% of our sales. We will not stand still and accept this. A Sauerei is dös!”

Public awareness was created earlier this year when a video came up on YouTube, showing a geologist on his way home from the meeting:

No one was hurt during the incident, but the man later received a guitar with signature from Dr Brian May.

Who was it?

Christoph Grützner
works at the Neotectonics and Natural Hazards Group, RWTH Aachen University, Germany. He likes the Mediterranean and uses geophysics to search for ancient earthquakes.