Millions of people across the United States make their voices heard by asking political candidates and elected officials about the issues that matter to them. As a scientist, you can be a part of the conversation and show politicians that Earth and space sciences are critical fields in need of their support.
Policy Action Center
The AGU Policy Action Center (http://actioncenter.agu.org/) provides the capabilities to engage your members of Congress through email, phone calls, and social media, as well as resources like legislator and candidate look-up functions. Additionally, the site has a comprehensive news feed covering a wide range of science policy issues, enabling you to stay up-to-date on current events.
From the home page, clicking on the “Share Your Story” feature provides a great opportunity for scientists to communicate their experiences to AGU and their peers on how their science affects and is affected by policy makers.
Sharing your story has the potential to effect change—AGU’s public affairs team uses these stories in their work with policy makers. Whether federal funding has allowed you to remain in your home state or a lack of support has created issues in research, it is important for policy makers and the public to be aware of how their decisions impact the scientific community. By sharing your story in the Policy Action Center, you can further influence how they view the importance of decisions regarding science policy.
The more scientists contact their candidates, elected officials, and the public, the more these individuals can see the value of Earth and space science, and the Policy Action Center makes it simple to do just that.
Top Science Policy Issues for Congress
AGU’s Top Science Policy Issues for Congress site (http://sciencepolicy.agu.org/us-elections) is an interactive website that enables you to get a rundown of the important science policy issues facing your state, whether they are drought and wildfire hazards in California, wetland loss in Florida, or fracking in Pennsylvania. Armed with facts provided on your state’s page, you can effectively communicate with candidates and elected officials, asking them how they plan to address issues important to your state and your science.
Why Your Voice Matters: Funding and Appropriations
The Earth and space sciences are continually under threat of being underfunded, misunderstood, or aggressively opposed by lawmakers and special interests. As a voting citizen and scientist, you can hold federal, state, and local candidates responsible for supporting funding for science.
Currently, Congress has passed a continuing resolution that provides funding for the U.S. government through 11 December 2014. This continuing resolution was passed because of the inability of the House of Representatives and Senate to agree on upcoming spending levels. Although Congress has adjourned for recess through Election Day, members are scheduled to return on 12 November 2014. They will then have 14 days in session to agree on spending levels before the continuing resolution expires.
It is crucial that Congress is aware of the critical need for research funding. If you want to help in this effort, you can write, email, or call your senators and/or congressperson to help ensure that the House and Senate pass appropriations for fiscal year 2015 that strengthen, not undermine, America’s leadership in the sciences.
Supporting Proscience Legislation
Despite some strong opposition, some bills do promote Earth and space science. For example, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology Education and Science (America COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4159) supports several critical science issues. It includes a 5-year budget growth plan for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and support for NSF’s basic research and infrastructure portfolio. It also encourages conference travel for scientists and highlights the importance of NASA’s commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
You Can Effect Change
Communicating your support for proscience legislation and research funding to candidates and political representatives can show that the scientific community has a united front on policy issues. Sharing your stories and your knowledge of your state’s science policy issues helps policy makers see the human side to the scientific issues on which they legislate.
AGU’s Policy Action Center and Top Science Policy Issues for Congress site provide simple tools to aid you with these tasks. Acting strongly as a scientific community, you can help build a better tomorrow by cultivating a political environment that better appreciates the value of Earth and space research.
—Carissa Bunge, Public Affairs Intern, AGU; email: email@example.com