A cloudy sky rolls in behind the US Capitol building in Washington DC.

Position Statement on Government Funding of Science

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.

Adopted by the American Geophysical Union, December 2021.