AGU’s Position at the Intersection of Science and Policy


Since AGU’s strategic plan was developed in 2010, we are becoming recognized as authoritative voices for our science within numerous communities, including policy makers. But why is communicating our science and its impact on the world to policy makers important?

The answer to that question can be found in AGU member research. Understanding our changing climate can lead to ways to mitigate and adapt to the effects. Understanding the causes and behavior of natural disasters helps to better manage the risk. Understanding natural resources—water, minerals, and energy—leads to sustainable solutions addressing conservation and management issues. Understanding space weather helps us protect our GPS and communications infrastructure. All of these things have significant societal relevance and therefore the potential to save lives, protect our national security, create jobs, help grow our economy, and support global competitiveness. It is therefore vitally important that decision makers have access to the best scientific knowledge on which they can base their decisions.

One of the ways in which we are addressing this critical need is through the Science Policy Conference. The inaugural event, which was held in May 2012, brought together 300 scientists, policy makers, government officials, industry professionals, and other stakeholders to discuss key Earth and space science issues and learn about the latest and most pressing science policy topics from experts in academia, industry, and federal agencies. Assembling this group of experts to address issues that are affecting cities, states, and regions across the U.S., as well as around the world, allowed AGU to increase our effectiveness and recognition among decision makers and build support for investment in Earth and space science.

I am very pleased that we are continuing this successful event in 2013. The 2013 Science Policy Conference will take place 24–26 June in Washington, D. C., and will address such topics as the arctic, natural hazards, energy, oceans, climate change, and technology and infrastructure. Attendees will engage in a variety of issues that impact public health, economic stability, and national security in the U.S. and around the world, including onshore and offshore energy development, risk reduction policies for natural hazards, carbon capture and storage, sea level rise, and the impact of climate change on human health. To complement the robust schedule of sessions and plenaries, we are also offering a poster session. Abstract submission for the poster session is still open; abstracts must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. eastern time on 17 April. Learn more about the conference!

Whether it is by attending the Science Policy Conference, signing up for AGU’s Science Policy Alerts, or communicating with your legislators, it is important to stay informed about science policy issues. To engage with other AGU members interested in science policy, consider affiliating with the Societal Impacts and Policy Sciences Section. Our science can play an important role in solving many of the challenges society faces today, and policy decisions that are informed by science are an important step toward ensuring a sustainable future. With the help of dedicated members like you, AGU is working to improve this intersection between science and policy for the benefit of humanity.

Also, as I am sure you know, the effects of sequestration are already being felt in the scientific community, ranging from furloughs to reductions in grant and travel funding. AGU is closely monitoring the situation and assessing the best ways to support our members and our science. If your job or your research is being impacted by sequestration, please consider telling us about it.

Carol Finn, President, American Geophysical Union
E-mail: [email protected]

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