Starting today, 13 September 2019, AGU members will have 30 days to comment on revisions to two position statements: one on data and one on climate change. This open comment period is both an important opportunity for and responsibility of our members to contribute to AGU’s mission of promoting Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity.
These position statements—created, revised, and approved by members—are what enable AGU to take adaptive stances on important societal topics, including the role of government in the sciences, the importance of early geoscience education, the availability and accessibility of data, and the implications for the world of understanding ocean and climate science, among others. They are cited not only by AGU members and leadership but also by other organizations, policy makers, and the media.
These statements are written to be forward looking and with relevance to the near future but not to last forever. Every 4 years, AGU’s Position Statement Committee considers all the statements and decides whether each one should be reaffirmed, retired, or revised. In 2019, the committee agreed that the topics of data and climate change had evolved so significantly that our position statements required major revisions.
The committee appointed two distinguished panels of scientists to make those revisions. The text of both revised statements is what is now available for comment, as noted below. After the 30-day deadline, the panels will consider all member comments and address as many as they can. Ultimately, the updated statements will go to the AGU Council and Board for their approval. Our goal is to announce both the data and climate statements during our Centennial celebrations at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019.
Position Statement on Data
Data are paramount to the scientific research that drives our economy, health, and security—from monitoring our atmosphere and oceans to tracking short-term extreme weather events to understanding long-term climate change. At the same time, changes in technology, such as improved computing and artificial intelligence, are creating even more vast and complicated data.
AGU’s data position statement makes it clear that for data to serve society, it must be robust, verifiable, transparent, and open. Moreover, the scientists and creators of data and all the governing bodies that deal with the storage or dissemination of data must hold themselves to the highest standards of scientific integrity. Policy makers need to support investment in data infrastructure, and scientists need to build data management into the research process from the very beginning to ensure its proper collection.
Position Statement on Climate Change
Human-caused climate change is one of the most serious issues of our time, affecting not only the state of the natural world but our ability to live in the world safely. Climate change will cause increasing health, economic, security, and ecological risks, from heat-related deaths and illnesses, hazards such as flooding, water scarcity, wildfire, and extreme weather and impacts to coastal infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and global migration.
AGU’s climate change statement makes it clear that reducing these harms will take substantial emissions reductions, which in turn will require significant changes to our energy sources and uses, as well as our food production and the active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Society must also be prepared to adapt to unavoidable climate change, but if these transitions are done strategically, efficiently, and equitably, the adaptations could lead to increased prosperity and well-being for society. The statement calls on communities, businesses, and governments to get involved and for the scientific community—both individuals and institutions—to engage with the public on solutions.