AGU’s Revised Position Statement: Ocean Research and Education Are Foundations for Economic Growth

Research and Education are essential to securing a sustainable and prosperous future, as global decision-makers prepare for the complex societal challenges ahead.

19 September 2018

WASHINGTON, DC– Scientific research in Earth and space sciences advances our understanding of our world and contributes to strong global economies, security, and public health and safety. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced a revision to its position statement, “Ocean Research and Education Are Foundations for Economic Growth.” The revision calls upon public and private entities to “forge cooperation and make bold investments that enable scientific discovery and solutions in ocean science to support the global economy.”

The statement recognizes that the ocean and its resources are vital to human livelihood. “In 2016 in the U.S., 52% of the population lived in coastal watershed regions generating nearly 57% of the nation’s GDP. Commercial fishing generates over $36B in income and more than one million jobs, while recreational fishing supports $14B in income and hundreds of thousands of additional jobs. In 2015, over 22% of U.S. domestic oil was produced from coastal and offshore waters.”

However, increasing human populations are increasing pressures upon the ocean’s ability to provide humanity with food, energy, and materials we increasingly rely upon. The statement asserts that “science provides the new knowledge we need to respond to rising sea levels and ocean temperatures, the decline of fisheries, expansion of low oxygen zones, and changes in the chemistry of the ocean caused by increased carbon dioxide such as ocean acidification. Greater knowledge and prediction skills are urgent when we consider the effort, time, and costs of protecting infrastructure along coasts, rebuilding fish populations in our seas, developing new water resources for manufacturing and agriculture, and restoring communities in the wake of hazards.”

“The ocean, the largest home for life on our planet and the living heart of earth’s climate system, is essential to the wellbeing of nations. Bold investments–as well as international, cross-disciplinary scientific research and education–are needed to unlock these benefits,” said Margaret Spring, Chair of the AGU Position Statement Committee and Vice President of Conservation & Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “These investments are essential to securing a sustainable and prosperous future, as global decision-makers prepare for the complex societal challenges ahead.”

The revised position statement was adopted by AGU’s Position Statement Committee on September 6, 2018, and originally adopted in 2005. It was revised by a panel of five AGU ocean scientist members including Jess Adkins, Smits Family Professor of Geochemistry and Global Environmental Science, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech; Charles Colgan, Director of Research, Center for the Blue Economy (CBE) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies; Kristina M. Gjerde, Senior High Seas Advisor, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme; Christopher J. Gobler, Endowed Chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, co-Director, New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, Stony Brook University; and Susan Roberts, Director, Ocean Studies Board, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

As an organization committed to promoting discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity, AGU develops and maintains position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to the understanding and application of the Earth and space sciences.

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Joshua Speiser,
Manager, Strategic Communications
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