linked to global issues. Geological, environmental, climatic, territorial, and socioeconomic challenges are not bounded by geopolitical boundaries, and the scientific questions in these areas are of both global and national concern. Consequently, the U.S. government frequently draws upon the scientific expertise of the USGS—and other federal science agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Foreign Agricultural Service—to address Earth science issues in other parts of the globe in support of U.S. national interests.
Global science concerns such as invasive species, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, emerging diseases, ecosystem changes, threats to biodiversity, and management of natural resources are areas in which the USGS provides scientific expertise to assist and inform other branches of the government. In the emerging era of science diplomacy, which uses science and scientific cooperation to promote international understanding and prosperity, the Survey has made specific contributions through its international activities (see Box 1.2; NRC, 2001).
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), and the DOS have cited specific international priorities for science that explicitly call for USGS expertise and information. OSTP indicates the importance of addressing the science and technology issues of a changing climate, constraints on energy resources, and environmental degradation from a global perspective.4 OSTP also suggests that national economic and defense security are improved through the strength of the nation’s research and adequate support for high-quality science, some of which can be realized by increasing research collaboration with other countries.5 The NSTC’s objectives include establishing national goals for U.S. science and technology investments and ensuring that these investments contribute to economic prosperity, public health, environmental quality, and national security.6 Several NSTC reports and documents (e.g., NSTC, 2010; 2008; 2007) have significant international components relating to these national goals, with crucial roles for USGS expertise.
The DOS, in its congressional budget request for FY 2012, includes $1.59 billion for 43 international organizations of which the United States is currently a member (DOS, 2011). The funds will enable the DOS and other federal agencies to “send delegations to represent the U.S. in governing bodies and otherwise take advantage of opportunities to promote U.S. goals and objectives at these organizations” (DOS, 2011: 543). The USGS is listed as a partner agency and provider of scientific expertise for 10 of those international organizations. In addition, the USGS is an important partner in the International Joint Commission, which was established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to provide advice and conduct studies of transboundary river systems (DOS, 2011).