AAAS, the world’s largest scientific society, is urging members and others who are concerned about American innovation to quickly share video and text messages detailing how automatic budget cuts could harm their research beginning 2 January unless U.S. lawmakers find a compromise.
An automatic “sequestration” of resources would pose an unprecedented risk to the American scientific enterprise, slashing the overall U.S. R&D investment by 8.4%—or approximately $58 billion—over five years. Deep, across-the-board cuts would devastate virtually every field of research, forcing lab closures and layoffs that would slow the progress of science for a generation or more, experts warned during a recent Capitol Hill briefing.
AAAS has worked to raise awareness among lawmakers and the public of the threat of sequestration to U.S. science, with efforts including an authoritative R&D budget analysis, Capitol Hill events, news media commentaries, and a Web site featuring sequestration resources. Those initiatives have emphasized the economic and societal risks associated with slowing scientific advances. AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, who also serves as executive publisher of Science, is appealing directly to members. “AAAS is asking for your help in urging federal policymakers to protect R&D funding from these potentially devastating cuts,” he wrote in a special letter posted to AAAS MemberCentral and routed via e-mail. “Please take a moment to make a submission highlighting the importance of federal funding to your work and what would be lost if our leaders do not reach a bipartisan resolution to the budget impasse.”
AAAS members are being prompted to log onto a special online site and upload 30-second videos and/or 1500-character text messages to explain why sustained federal support of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields is important to society.
“We are asking researchers to emphasize why the public should care about the work that they do, how federal funding has helped them to continue that work, and what would be lost if funding is cut to their field,” AAAS Marketing Director Ian King explained.
Joanne Carney, director of the AAAS Office of Government Relations, said the association will deliver all such messages to Capitol Hill and the White House. “Sequestration would set important research fields back by decades,” she said. “We want to ensure that the scientific community is heard on this critical issue.”
Learn more about the how sequestration could have a devastating impact on U.S. research and development work.
View resources on possible budget sequestration collected by the AAAS Office of Government Relations.