Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Earth and Space Sciences at Risk

Are you an American Geophysical Union (AGU) member? Please read the letter below from the Executive Director/CEO of AGU and let us all support the future of the Earth and space sciences.

Dear AGU member,

Your help is needed to support the future of the Earth and space sciences. The Obama Administration and congressional leadership have been in federal budget negotiations for weeks, and are reported to be negotiating for up to $4 trillion in reduced federal expenditures. As part of this agreement, it now appears that at least $1.1 trillion in cuts will be made in annual appropriations over the next ten years, starting in Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12).

While it is not yet clear how these cuts would be applied to scientific research and development, now is the time for the scientific community to reach out to policymakers and ensure that the critical research you do—and the benefits it provides to the public and our economy—is preserved. It is highly likely that FY12 funding levels for federal investment in scientific research and development will be below FY11 levels, and this trend may continue for a number of years. While the need to reduce the national debt is real, budget cuts cannot come at the cost of programs that keep Americans safe and build a foundation on which our economy thrives.

AGU has been active in communicating with Congress and the Administration about the importance of science funding and the potential consequences of cuts to research programs. However, your voice—as a scientist, constituent, and AGU member—is the most important one. Negotiations on the budget and debt ceiling will only continue for a few more weeks at the most. You can make a difference during that time by visiting your legislators over the next few weeks when they are at home for their district work period.

This is an opportunity to discuss how federal investments in scientific research and development are paying off, particularly in your district. This personal connection is important because it shows them what the local impact will be from the decisions they make in Washington, and that their constituents are dedicated to supporting these programs and investments. Here’s what you can do to help:

- A meeting is the most impactful way to work with your legislators, and the best time to do so is when they are home for a district work period. For the Senate, that will be 5-9 July, and for the House of Representatives, 16-24 July. Find the contact information for your legislators’ offices on the AGU Visit Your Legislator webpage, and call the offices to schedule meetings with each one. Detailed information on scheduling a visit and talking points are available on the AGU website.

- Only have five minutes? Simply call the office and let them know how important you think funding for Earth and space science research and development is. You can use the talking points listed on our website.

- After you have made contact, please send us a short email to let us know with whom you met or spoke, what you said, and their response. This information is vital to help AGU focus our resources where they are needed as negotiations continue.

- If you are a Federal employee, you may visit your legislators and discuss the importance of Earth and space science, but you may not discuss specific funding levels. More detailed information is available on our website.

- Please contact us at sciencepolicy@agu.org with any questions.

Here are other opportunities for you to make a difference:

- The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America (ASTRA) has written a petition to support predictable and sustained funding for scientific and engineering research and development and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education funding for America’s future. If you would like to sign the petition, it is available on ASTRA’s website.

- You can also consider writing a letter to the editor to your local newspaper or other media outlet in support of funding for scientific research and development. To help you with this effort, AGU has drafted a template from which you can draft your letter, as well as tips for submitting it. Congressional offices often review letters to the editor from local media outlets, especially if the Member of Congress is mentioned in the letter.

- As this fast-moving story continues to develop, AGU Science Policy Alerts keep you updated on legislative developments that affect the Earth and space science community. If you would like to sign up for Science Policy Alerts, you may do so on AGU’s website.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to speak up for the Earth and space sciences. Your efforts truly make a difference.


Christine W. McEntee
Executive Director/CEO


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