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GSA Participates in Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill

Diffenbaugh & staff
Caitlin Buzzas, American Meteorological Society, GSA member Noah Diffenbaugh, Rep. Eshoo (D-CA), and Fran Moore, Stanford, discuss climate science.
Lerdau, White, Hurt, Gruber
Manuel Lerdau, UVA; Kasey White, GSA, Rep. Hurt (R-VA), and Paul Gruber, NGWA discuss climate impacts in Rep. Hurt's district
Climate Science Day Congressional Panel
Congressional staff Catherine Barrett, Kelly Pennington, Heidi King and Ana Unruh Cohen provide scientists helpful information on how to interact with congressional offices and the current policy environment surrounding climate change.

GSA member Noah Diffenbaugh and GSA Director for Geoscience Policy Kasey White joined nearly 50 scientists to participate in the third annual Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill on 27 February. The purpose of the 150 congressional visits was to provide a non-partisan opportunity for scientists of many disciplines to build relationships and provide members of Congress access to the best possible climate science information; the event did not include advocacy for any policy position or funding.

Kasey White, who co-chairs the Climate Science Working Group that organized the event, provided opening remarks at a briefing for participants held the day before the visits. The briefing featured a bipartisan panel of congressional staff, Susan Joy Hassol, director of Climate Communication, and policy professionals with tips to help build relationships between the scientists and policymakers. Hassol encouraged participants to communicate their science in a way that was relevant to the member of Congress and provided examples of successful communication. The congressional panelists spoke to the value of having trusted scientists that they can use as a resource and encouraged participants to maintain a relationship with congressional members and staff.

The following day, scientists met with members of Congress, their personal office staff, and congressional committee staff. Noah Diffenbaugh, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, has participated in all three Climate Science Days. He explained his continued participation, "This was a great opportunity to engage with law makers and their staffs. Each office expressed interest in science in support of their decisions. And having the opportunity to speak with Congresswoman Eshoo was a real highlight."

In addition to meeting with the California delegation, Diffenbaugh's team met with staff on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, illustrating the breadth of committees affected by climate changes issues. "The committee meetings were very interesting. Carbon pricing gets a lot of attention in the public discussion about climate policy, but some of the committees are dealing with decisions where building resilience could have real benefits to society," Diffenbaugh explained.

White visited along with an interdisciplinary team, including Paul Gruber from the National Ground Water Association and Manuel Lerdau, an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia. In meetings with the Virginia delegation, including both Senators and five members of Congress, the scientists stressed their willingness to serve as a resource as Congress addresses climate change and the impacts associated with it, including water resources and invasive species, and their impact on Virginia agriculture.

Climate Science Day was organized by the Climate Science Working Group, an interdisciplinary coalition of scientific organizations including GSA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Chemical Society; the American Geophysical Union; the American Meteorological Society; the American Society of Agronomy; the American Society of Plant Biologists; the American Statistical Association; the Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics; the Crop Science Society of America; the National Ecological Observatory Network; the National Ground Water Association; the Society for Conservation Biology; the Soil Science Society of America; and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.