March for Science: 6 Months Later

October 22, 2017 Joshua Speiser

In the six months following a great turnout of American Geophysical Union (AGU) members and supporters from Alaska to Greenland at the March for Science in April, AGU has been working to firmly address policies that would compromise the ability of Earth and space scientists around the world to do their pivotal work. To that end, we have been actively encouraging our members, especially those in the U.S., to get out of the lab and into the community; to meet with their legislators during the Congressional Recess; to contact their elected officials about supporting strong science funding, and to share their stories about the value of science.

shutterstock_68153113.jpgDuring this same period, AGU leadership has authored posts about the global repercussions of the U.S. President’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the executive order to overhaul the clean power plan, as well as the proposed massive cuts to science agency funding in the Administration’s FY18 budget proposal. We sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry urging him to reconsider making drastic workforce cuts at Department of Energy national laboratories unless directed to by Congress. Our Public Affairs staff worked with the House Earth and Space Science Caucus to present “Science Saves,” a discussion about the various ways federally funded science data and research serve to protect public health and safety, economy, and security; and held another congressional briefing about the critical applications of geoscience information in the development and maintenance of urban and rural infrastructure and its socioeconomic impacts.

On social media, we have participated in and launched a handful of campaigns to promote the value of science and to encourage scientists to share their own work with the public. We took part in the #ThankYouScience campaign that sought to celebrate the cutting-edge work of all scientists by sharing how scientific research adds to our knowledge base and improves our world; amplified #6wordscience, where scientists were encouraged to share their science on Twitter using just six words or less; and, in collaboration with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and a number of other institutions, launched the #Voice4Science campaign which seeks to build support for science in the form of  op-eds by authoritative non-scientists making the case for the role science plays in public safety, national security, innovation, and private industry.

More recently, we have turned our focus to the numerous global natural disasters taking place by examining the interplay of these events with the escalating threat posed by climate change, and the need to have robust and fully funded federal scientific agencies in place to predict, monitor, and respond to these extreme weather incidents both in the U.S. and abroad. For our upcoming annual Fall Meeting, we have added late breaking sessions about recent hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and Caribbean nations, the earthquakes in Mexico, recent severe flooding in South Asia, and the North Korean declared underground nuclear test.  AGU’s Natural Hazards Focus Group President authored a post in our leadership blog about the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, and the Increase in Extreme Weather Events. We also helped convene “Focus on Flooding,” a briefing by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and its partners to communicate how science supports flood forecasts and public safety.

Through all this, AGU has continued its efforts to address and end harassment, discrimination, and bullying in the sciences. AGU’s Board of Directors adopted an updated ethics policy that takes a much stronger stance against harassment by including it in the definition of research misconduct and expanding its application to AGU members, staff, volunteers, and non-members participating in AGU-sponsored programs and activities including AGU Honors and Awards, and governance. We plan to have further discussion of the revised Ethics Policy at our Fall Meeting with a Town Hall and other sessions on diversity and work climate issues, and invite our members to actively take part in this ongoing discussion.

Image Credit: Kathie Nichols/Shutterstock

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