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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report addresses the three main aspects of international activities in the geosciences--basic research, economic applications, and the potential role of geosciences in U.S. foreign policy. Because the three are closely intertwined, the current deficiencies and the possible remedies overlap. U.S. geoscience programs play an important role in international activities. The committee, with members drawn -- ' ~ and government, has considered the activities ot American geologists and other earth scientists in international programs in relation to U.S. interests abroad, comparing them with those in the international programs of other industrialized countries. The committee concludes that ¢1) international geoscience needs to be strengthened to support _ , · · from 1nauscry, academia, the national interests of the United States: (2) geoscience personnel and the knowledge they possess should be more effectively used in helping to_formulate foreign policy: and (3) U.S. economic and scientific interests can be strengthened by strong involvement of American geoscientists in U.S. international programs. Geologic processes are global in scope, and many geologic phenomena that are known but imperfectly displayed in the United States must be studied in other countries in order to be understood. The principles of metallogenesis, tectonism, and crustal evolution that are applied to geologic studies in the United States are derived from observations made throughout the world. I--' ~ -~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ . . Geologic concepts tested in the United braces are cased on SUCh worldwide studies of structural deformation, seismicity, volcanism, and other phenomena. The joint participation of U.S. geoscientists and their foreign colleagues in studies of geological phenomena is indispensable for the advancement and application of scientific concepts and techniques to economic and policy issues in the United States. Cooperative geoscience programs abroad can contribute information to the important formulation and implementation of American foreign policy in many fields, including international trade and investment access to mineral and energy raw materials, water resources development, isolation of hazardous wastes, development of seabed resources, international boundary disputes, and technical assistance programs. Such geoscience contributions must, however, be based on up-to-date knowledge of world geology, resources, programs, and data 1
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2 sources acquired by U.S. geoscientists through involvement in international programs, and interchange of ideas. Geoscience programs conducted in cooperation with other nations can significantly benefit the U.S. economy. Current information applicable to mineral resource exploration and development is required to identify potential sources of raw materials, especially those not available in the United States. Also, U.S. industry needs the most accurate information possible about foreign resources to compete successfully in the international marketplace. Commercial and financial organizations require geologically informed analysis of optimum or potential production levels that bear on the self-sufficiency of other countries so that wise decisions can be made on trade and investments. Industry should be aware of opportunities for contractual geophysical and exploration services, potential equipment sales, and knowledge of mineral resources and reserves. Understanding of institutions, programs, and policies in other countries is vital to our national well-being. The committee concluded that, with the exception of the petroleum industry, participation by American geoscientists in international programs has declined relative to that of many other nations over the past two decades. The federal government can use the geological sciences more effectively to support national security and resource policy interests. Thus, it is not surprising that existing U.S. programs of geoscience assistance and cooperation need strengthening, and the United States should establish a mechanism for coordinating the flow and transmission of geological and resource information from abroad to meet our scientific, economic, and political needs. Well-organized and well-supported programs in other countries, such as the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, show us that we should use the geosciences more intensively to advance our international interests. This report not only stresses the broad relevance of international geoscience involvement to the conduct of U.S. foreign relations and the promotion of U.S. economic interests abroad but also points out specific areas where geoscientists and geoscience information could be used more effectively. The report emphasizes the importance of global geoscience research, showing how and why an enhanced international research effort is necessary, not only to reinforce our position in the world geoscience community but also to contribute more effectively to the political, economic, and social well-being of citizens of the United States. Some specific needs and remedies are the following: 1. Foreign Policy. There is a need for a forum to increase the awareness among nongeologists of the importance of geoscience information in making decisions about foreign policy. Appropriate mechanisms are needed for identifying and monitoring such concerns as waste management, acid rain, hazard reduction, energy and mineral resources, and desertification in order to find what actions are required and practical. A vigorous program of cooperative basic
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3 research would help counteract any impression that the United States is interested only in developing resources and assuring their access from countries that are of strategic importance to us. 2. U.S. Economic Interests. To improve the competitive status abroad, we should (a) improve the flow and exchange of relevant geoscience information through the Science Attache and Regional Resource Officer programs; (b) reestablish (through the Agency for International Development or some other appropriate mechanism) cooperative geoscience programs with Third World and other significant countries. Such programs would involve studies in resources and hazards, other geologic investigations, training of personnel, and the publication of maps and reports. 3. Support for Basic Science. Because of the rapidly changing character of geoscience research, we should (a) increase our capacity for international consultation and exchange; (b) provide better support for current and future science and technology agreements; and (c) stimulate foreign field work by more U.S. geoscientists. As an essential element to remedy existing deficiencies and to develop a long-term mechanism for an increased geoscience contribution to U.S. foreign policy, economic growth, and basic research, the committee recommends the establishment of an American Office of Global Geosciences whose advisory group would include both governmental and nongovernmental representation. The committee envisions this office as a small nongovernmental organization that would be financed by government and industry, and possibly private foundations as well, would serve as a clearinghouse for international geoscience information and activities, and would help coordinate projects and activities involving industry, academia, and government. It would provide long-term continuity of dynamic leadership in enhancing the cooperative role of the United States in international geoscience activities and would actively promote the participation of U.S. geoscientists in overseas research and development. This office should be inaugurated and administered by an entity dedicated to solution of the global geoscience concerns raised in this report. Appropriate governing bodies include: (1) a consortium of federal agencies, such as Bureau of Mines (BLM), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Department of Energy (DOE); (2) a working group of solid-earth science professional societies such as American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), American Geological Union (AGU), and Geological Society of America (GSA); (3) the American Geological Institute (AGI); and (4) a board or panel of the National Research Council (NRC). Having considered the importance of international geoscience programs in formulating and implementing foreign policy issues, and in advancing U.S. political, economic, and scientific interests abroad, the committee further recommends that funding for international geoscience activity should be increased in the overall federal budget. As an immediate action, the committee urges that new funding be
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4 provided for international programs already in existence, for example, in the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Energy, Department of State, Bureau of Mines, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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