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Review and comment on draft position statement: government funding of science

AGU’s position statement on government funding of science was recently updated by an expert task force to reflect the community’s stance on this key issue, as part of the recurring four-year process. The task force relies on comments by members to finalize the draft statement, which is then approved by AGU’s Board and Council. The comment period runs 1-30 June 2021.

Please review the draft government funding statement and submit your comments using the form below.

Comment Form for AGU's Government Funding of Science Draft Statement


Statement Draft

Robust Government Investment in Earth and Space Science Research is Essential for a Resilient, Sustainable Society

Governments must significantly increase investment in Earth and space science research because a better understanding of how the Earth works and how it is connected to society is crucial to human, economic, and ecological health and security.

To foster a resilient, sustainable society, government must:

  • Fulfill its unique and essential role to support international, national, academic, private-sector, and citizen-led research endeavors and to foster synergies in the research enterprise.
  • Invest in discovery-driven and solution-inspired research; collecting, maintaining, and openly disseminating long-term, consistent datasets; and creating the infrastructure and resources needed to support these activities.
  • Broaden participation in and ensure equitable access to the benefits of the scientific process.

Global civilization is intertwined with our planet’s natural systems. Discovery-driven exploration of Earth and its neighbors serves both to inspire and to advance the fundamental knowledge underpinning solutions-based science. Earth and space science research, coupled with broad, equitable dissemination and application of scientific knowledge, is critical to developing effective solutions and risk reduction strategies for challenges such as:

  • managing the global climate and biodiversity crises,
  • protecting the health of the ocean,
  • providing access to affordable, clean, and secure food, energy, and water, and
  • preparing for hazards, including extreme weather, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and coronal mass ejections.

Scientific understanding of Earth and space is a public good that requires vigorous public investment. Government is uniquely able to support scientific endeavors – such as discovery-driven research and research to address long-term public challenges – where short-term return on investment is not the only criterion for success.  Government funding enables continuity and consistency in the long-term and innovative monitoring and data collection that drives scientific advances and supports evidence-based decision making.

Government investment in fundamental Earth and space science provides the basic knowledge infrastructure that enables the private sector to innovate and deliver critical goods and services to society. In addition, this knowledge serves as a foundation for educating the highly skilled workforce required to be competitive in the global economy.

Government funding must promote an increased commitment in Earth and space science research to racial and social diversity and inclusion to help meet the challenges of economic and racial justice. This commitment must ensure the full participation of underrepresented communities and the equitable distribution and dissemination of the benefits of scientific activity.

Current Statement

The U.S. Government Has A Critical Role In Supporting Basic Research In The Earth And Space Sciences

Public support for the Earth and Space Sciences has historically contributed significant returns for the welfare of all citizens. The Federal Government plays a critical role in supporting basic scientific research that makes these advances possible.

Throughout its history the United States has called upon Earth and space scientists to address challenges facing society. The nation has come to expect geophysical data and analyses to help improve national security and protect lives and property — whether the goal is mitigation of risk from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and floods; defense against attack through the air, by land, or by water; development of resources, or better understanding of environmental issues and climate. Earth and space science research have been crucial to both public and private enterprise.

Individuals, businesses and governments share responsibility for collecting and archiving geophysical knowledge. Because individuals and businesses typically focus on specific, short-term goals, the federal government bears responsibility for higher-risk and longer-term scientific investigations and monitoring programs. The implications are broad for many societal problems related to Earth and its environment. Solutions require geophysical information produced by mission-driven government agencies as well as expertise and knowledge garnered from federally sponsored academic research. Federally funded research contributes fundamental information that allows the nation to set policies, enact legislation, and make the necessary investments to accomplish societal objectives.

The American Geophysical Union supports government measures that strengthen geophysical research capabilities, both for immediate applications as well as longer-term public benefits. The Union is convinced, both by history and by contemporary concerns, that government-sponsored Earth and space science research contribute significantly to the welfare of all citizens.

Adopted by the American Geophysical Union May 1998; Revised and Reaffirmed May 2002, May 2006, February 2012; Reaffirmed September 2016.

Comment Form for AGU's Government Funding of Science Draft Statement