Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill

6 February 2012
AGU Science Policy Alert 12-8

On 1 February 2012, AGU teamed with twelve other scientific societies to bring 29 scientists researching various aspects of climate change to Washington, DC, for the second annual Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill. The participants represented a wide range of expertise, from meteorology to crop physiology, paleoclimatology to statistics.  With Congress debating environmental regulations and energy policy amidst tight fiscal pressures, it is critical that lawmakers have access to the best climate science to help guide policy decisions.  The scientists met with legislators and their staff to discuss the importance of climate science for their districts and the nation and offer help in sorting through the vast amount of information that is publicly available regarding climate.

On 31 January 2012, the day before visiting Capitol Hill, the scientists attended an afternoon training session on climate science communication.  Highlights from the training included a talk by Edward Maibach, Director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, on his research on understanding how Americans view climate scientists and how they interpret climate information.  Additionally, the participants had access to a panel of bicameral congressional staff members, representing both sides of the aisle, on what to expect during a congressional meeting.  Congressional staff gave frank advice on how to best communicate climate science to a congressional audience and answered questions.

The following day, the scientists traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress, their personal office staff, and congressional committee staff.  Split into teams by state, the scientists participated in over 100 meetings.  A primary goal of Climate Science Day was to introduce freshmen Members to the importance of climate science and allow them to meet researchers actively advancing our understanding of climate.  Most importantly, the scientists offered their expertise as an ongoing resource to the legislators.  Members of Congress and their staff from both sides of the aisle were grateful that the scientists had taken time to come to Washington, DC, and expressed willingness to ask the scientists questions in the future.

The American Geophysical Union would like to especially thank all of its members who participated in this year’s event: Louisa Bradtmiller, Amy Braverman, Steven Cavallo, Jasmine Crumsey, Noah Diffenbaugh, John Fasullo, Peter Guttorp, Jack Hess, Matt Huber, Hongyan Luo, Leonard Smith, Vincent Tidwell, and Clark Weaver.