June 7, 2018

AGU Policy Action Center facilitates advocacy for NOAA funding [World Oceans Month]

Posted by Laura Guertin

Anyone that spends time on Twitter goes through a range of emotions when they scroll through their Twitter feed. From powerful hashtags to animated GIFs, we enjoy a laugh, we become informed, and we grow concerned. This recent tweet is one of the concerning ones for me:


Here’s the situation… In May 2018, the House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) spending bill, which funds NASA, NOAA, and the NSF (full information available on the AGU Current Federal Funding Landscape page).

  • NASA received $21.5 billion or a 3.7% increase over FY2018 Omnibus levels
  • NSF received $8.2 billion or a 5% increase over FY2018 Omnibus levels
  • NOAA received $5.2 billion or a 11.5% decrease from FY2018 Omnibus levels

Below is a chart from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) showing the proposed budget changes within NOAA. More details are available on the AIP Federal Science Budget Tracker.

AGU members are familiar with NOAA and the importance, relevance, and value of its services. But now, NOAA needs more voices than those from the scientific community to advocate for funding. Here are easy steps to help our non-scientist colleagues, family and friends learn about NOAA and take action.

Introduce NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Many non-STEM people I speak to unfortunately have never heard of NOAA. I start with the “NASA is to space as NOAA is to the ocean and atmosphere.” I share some additional taking points in my GeoEd Trek post A New Year’s resolution: help the public learn about NOAA. And there is a video NOAA released earlier this year that is a great introduction to this federal agency:

Tell your NOAA story, and why NOAA matters to us all

I have blogged on this topic as well in my post What NOAA means to me, and how to “make it matter” to others. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere RDML Tim Gallaudet is well aware of how stories are key to communicating how NOAA directly benefits individuals and society as a whole – my conversation with Dr. Gallaudet and an interview with AIP are just a couple of examples of these stories.

Topics such as weather forecasting and and decision support services to emergency managers are not “hard sells” to individuals. But we as scientists need to know who are audiences are that we are trying to talk to about NOAA. For my friends of outdoor sports, I show them articles on the NOAA Climate.gov website that talk about the impact of warming on athletics, such as Warmer April high temps for the Boston Marathon and Low snow drives Iditarod north for third time. For my friends that love boating, whether on their own boats or on cruise ships, I share the importance of hydrographic surveying, tide/current data and nautical charts, all part of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. And NOAA has a collection of ocean facts where you can find something of interest for anyone and everyone!

Visit the AGU Policy Action Center, take 5 minutes to show support for NOAA

AGU’s Policy Action Center (http://actioncenter.agu.org/) makes it so easy for anyone to contact their elected officials and support funding for science.

On the main page of the Policy Action Center, click on Urge your Senators to Robustly Fund NASA, NOAA, & NSF. Enter your zip code of residence, and a form automatically populates with the names of your elected officials (in this case, the Senators that will be discussing this spending bill).

The form includes instructions and sample talking points that you can use to write your message to your Senators. There are talking points about NOAA which I used in my 300-word message, including my own NOAA stories for why NOAA matters to people in Pennsylvania.

I can’t emphasize how quick and easy this was to do. AGU has done the legwork in setting up the interface for taking action on important policy issues. If you have never visited or used this interface, please explore the link and connect with your Senators while we still have time to support NOAA during World & National Oceans Month.