2013 Science Policy Conference in the News

23 July 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13–37

The 2013 AGU Science Policy Conference may have come and gone, but you can still read the news coverage generated by the conference on the Science Policy Conference In the News webpage. If you were unable to attend the conference, make sure to watch the video on-demand of the two plenary sessions, and join the Science Policy Conference mailing list to receive updates about the 2014 conference.

The 2013 conference featured an elaborate discussion about the value of science to the United States, featuring Dr. Cora Marrett, the Acting Director of the National Science Foundation, and Bart Gordon, the former Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology from 2007 to 2010. Gordon explained that funding of long-term, basic science research projects has diminished because basic research is not seen as inherently tied to national defense, as it was during the Cold War.

Due to this change in perception, scientists need to communicate their research and relevant findings more effectively, so the value of their science is understood. Climate change is one example.

During the second day of the conference, James Balog presented his project, the Extreme Ice Survey, as “using the language of art to communicate the message of climate science, with greater impact for the public.” Balog and Richard Harris, National Public Radio, went on to discuss their roles as climate science communicators, the present U.S. policy gridlock in addressing climate change, and the opportunities for loosening that gridlock.

The theme of the conference, Preparing for Our Future, was seen throughout many of the conference panel discussions during the two-day event. One link that arose is forecasting and planning for natural hazards. Janice Coen, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained that the costs of fire suppression have exceeded $2 billion per year since 2000, and that notorious wildfires have occurred at the intersection of climate anomalies and unusual weather events. Another link was heard from the director of Broward County’s Natural Resources and Management Division, Jennifer Jurado, who stated that Broward County, Florida has $12 billion of infrastructure that would be at risk from a three foot inundation of sea-level rise.

Beyond the panel discussions, the conference also included a Science and Policy Communications Workshop about how to hone a scientific message for different audiences, and a Capitol Hill reception to honor the 2013 AGU Presidential Citation for Science and Society recipients.

Photo Caption: James Balog introduces his strategy of communicating the principles of climate science using the language of art.