Shutdown Exemption for the United States Antarctic Program
  • Petitioned U.S. House of Representatives

This petition was delivered to:

U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

Shutdown Exemption for the United States Antarctic Program

    1. Richard Jeong
    2. Petition by

      Richard Jeong

      McMurdo Station, Antarctica

  1.  
  2.   
October 2013

Victory

Thank you everyone for urging Congress to end the shutdown. To all the friends of science on the Ice including the contractors, the institutions who host the scientists, all those who support science funding, and the individuals behind the scientist, we thank you. USAP is resuming normal operations, and we got here by your willingness to speak out about the loss to science that this shutdown caused. This is one step in the direction of protecting Antarctic science. The future is not assured for this season or future season, some projects this season may have to be cut due to the money spent on going to caretaker status and the congressional budget fight may return to affect us in January. This petition will be followed by a movement to protect science on the Ice for the long term. Look forward to the next evolution of work on the Ice.

If the United States Antarctic Program is closed because of the government shutdown, it will jeopardize vital research that could affect climate change science for months or even years. But that's exactly what's going to happen if we don't take action quickly.

Unlike shutting down a court or a government office in a city, removing Antarctic participants from the ice means losing a long-term investment in infrastructure and a higher a higher cost to re-start the projects. I’m seeing the devastating consequences of this decision firsthand as I’ve been working as a contractor at McMurdo Station in Antarctica all winter. Congress must pass a shutdown exemption, similar to US Military Pay and US Defense Contractors, for the USAP program or end the shutdown.

The total cost of the USAP program is approximately $350 million dollars -- a value added amount of money which is small in terms of the $3.8 trillion dollar total budget. In the context of such a budget, it’s really a trivial amount for Congress to authorize a portion of it to allow international science to continue -- but the consequences of shutting down are devastating to advancing science and research.

The effects this shutdown will be the loss of continuity in projects that have been ongoing since the International Geophysical Year (IGY) some 50 years ago.  Scientific data such as the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) which has been ongoing for 30 years will have a large data gap in at a crucial time in our understanding of climate change. A similar problem would be the abrupt end to 11 years of continuous data on the solar cycle that is used, for example, by the UC Boulder Lidar project. Since solar cycles are 11 years long, missing this last critical bit of data could jeopardize the multi-year investment. Also threatened is our understanding of rapidly changing ecosystems that is being generated by the study of Penguins in the Palmer Peninsula.

Research conducted in Antarctica is costly and can only be conducted during very specific windows of time. Even a brief shutdown could ruin the integrity of studies and translate to millions of dollars of research funds wasted. It’s incredibly costly to re-start studies and could take months or even years to begin again because of the climate. Not to mention that research conducted by other nations will also be affected by the closure of USAP facilities.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 4,000 signatures
    2. Lights out on Science

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/10/12/us-turns-out-lights-on-science-research/
      "But the most immediate scientific crisis lies in Antarctica, where millions of dollars and in some cases years of research are being thrown out the window."

    3. Reached 3,000 signatures
    4. Unprecedented Antarctic Disaster

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-lilly/an-unprecedented-antarctic-disaster_b_4081217.html

      ""This is a much, much bigger science story than anybody realizes," Henry Kaiser says. As a scientific diver in the U.S. Antarctic program, Kaiser has spent ten seasons in Antarctica, and is well connected within the community of Antarctic researchers. He was also the producer and underwater cameraman for Werner Herzog's Antarctic documentary, Encounters at the End of the World. But over the past few days, he says, "I keep finding out more and more people who are affected and potential scientific losses I didn't know about."

    5. Masters of uncertainty

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/why-shutting-down-u-s-antarctic-research-will-have-global-repercussions/

      ...Antarctic scientists and support staff are masters of uncertainty given the harsh conditions inherent in their posting. But in a place where natural conditions are challenging enough, it’s disheartening that the greatest threat of all is coming from the very system meant to support the Antarctic science in the first place.

    6. Reached 2,500 signatures
    7. A Major Disruption

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      This shutdown is also hitting the contractors who support Antarctic science hard.

      Shutdown hits Antarctica

      Alaskan workers in Antarctica lose seasonal research jobs By Lacie Grosvold ANCHORAGE - On the other side of the world, some Alaskans are feeling the impact of the government shutdown. Earlier this week, the United States Antarctic Program announced research facilities near the South Pole will go into "caretaker status."

    8. Stories of the shutdown effects

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      Government shutdown bars researchers from Antarctica and freezes climate science

      Last Friday, Sebastian Vivancos embarked on the journey of a lifetime: He was headed to Antarctica. But on Tuesday, the National Science Foundation announced Tuesday that it was putting its three Antarctic research bases in caretaker mode, with only skeleton crews remaining to maintain the stations.

    9. Reached 2,000 signatures
    10. Good news of sorts

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11138156

      "New Zealand scientists will take over research operations in Antarctica as the United States withdraws its teams during the government shut-down..."

    11. Reached 1,000 signatures
    12. Talk to the press!

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      NPR is looking for people who aren't on furlough, but are affected by the government shutdown.
      "We're looking to speak with Americans who are feeling the ripple effects of the government shutdown. If you are *not* a furloughed government worker but your daily life has been affected in some way by the shutdown, we'd like to hear from you for a story on NPR.org. Please send your story along with your name and phone number to nprcrowdsource@npr.org and we may contact you for an interview."

      NPR - We're looking to speak with Americans who are... | Facebook

      We're looking to speak with Americans who are feeling the ripple effects of the government shutdown. If you are *not* a furloughed government worker but...

    13. Ghost Towns

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer
      Thanks to Government Shutdown, It's About to Get Really Lonely in Antarctica

      The National Science Foundation staffs three main research centers in Antarctica-the McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott, and Palmer stations-and all of them are about to become ghost towns, thanks to the government shutdown. Unfortunately, this doesn't just mean a few college kids will miss out on field trips. Forced evacuation from Antarctica means...

    14. Reached 750 signatures
    15. "Ruin Scientific Work in Antarctica"

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      The Shutdown Will Ruin Scientific Work in Antarctica

      Three American research stations in Antarctica will be put in "caretaker status" and all research suspended as a consequence of the continuing US government shutdown, the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) has announced. The timing couldn't be worse.

    16. Reached 500 signatures
    17. LTER at Palmer

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      US government shutdown could reach as far as Antarctica

      October marks spring in Antarctica, and the start of a new field research season. Scientists will be heading to McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott and Palmer research stations to study glaciers, ecology and climate. Or will they? The headlines of the magazine Scientific American say it all: "U.S.

    18. NBC's story.

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      Shutdown puts the entire US Antarctic research program on ice

      16 hours ago As scientists had feared, on Tuesday the National Science Foundation announced it is canceling the U.S. Antarctic research program for this year because of the ongoing government shutdown. Scientists and contractors already stationed at the three U.S.

    19. Reached 250 signatures
    20. Consider the science that is in jeopardy

      Richard Jeong
      Petition Organizer

      Read and refer to this article in the Journal Nature about what the effect will be on the Science. http://www.nature.com/news/us-antarctic-research-season-is-in-jeopardy-1.13889

    21. Reached 5 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Sheen Chiu CHICAGO, IL
      • about 1 year ago

      My teacher is going to Antarctica.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Kinga Canfield LOS ALAMOS, NM
      • about 1 year ago

      I am a scientists and I know the importance of continuing this research.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Richard Bohn PROVO, UT
      • about 1 year ago

      The research is important, and the cost of restarting the program is prohibitive, especially considering how asinine the reason for shutting it down would be.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Harriet Harding KENNEBUNKPORT, ME
      • about 1 year ago

      This is critical to keep the work consistent that's being done in the Antarctic. My cousin Genevieve works there and its very real!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Leah Plesofsky SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA
      • about 1 year ago

      My nephew works in McMurdo in Antarctica & they are doing important research. If they abandon it, it will be lost & take millions of dollars & time to rebuild

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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