Sunday, July 06, 2008

Proposal: a federal Earth Systems Science Agency

A group of highly respected former federal science officials is calling for merger of the USGS and NOAA into an Earth Systems Science Agency. The proposal is in the new issue of Science:

The United States faces unprecedented environmental and economic challenges in the decades ahead. Foremost among them will be climate change, sea-level rise, altered weather patterns, declines in freshwater availability and quality, and loss of biodiversity. Addressing these challenges will require well-conceived, science-based, simultaneous responses on multiple scales, from global and national, to regional and local. The executive and legislative branches of the federal government and of the states will have to transcend bureaucratic boundaries and become much more innovative in developing and implementing policy responses

We strongly believe organizational changes must be made at the federal level to align our public institutional infrastructure to address these challenges. The most pressing organizational change that is required is the establishment of an independent Earth Systems Science Agency formed by merging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The lead author on the Science proposal is Mark Schaefer, a former acting director of the USGS and senior official in the Interior Dept. Mark and I served on the National Research Council’s Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) a few years ago, and with Steve Bohlen, then head of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, wrote a letter to the chair of BESR, urging a re-examination of the federal earth science agencies.

Among the recommendations we made in the July 4, 2005 letter were:

Overall, we see the need for better coordinated policy formulation and implementation for the national earth science enterprise. The geological, hydrological, and biological work of the USGS, coupled with the oceanic and atmospheric work of NOAA, offers a potentially integrated approach to earth science.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:35 AM

    This is great info to know.