What are Critical Issues?

The GSA identifies as Critical Issues topics that are current and of particular interest to the geosciences community. These may include both issues that are likely to be impactful on the geosciences community and those for which the participation of geoscientists is important to an informed debate. Current Critical Issues are listed in the table to the right. Some posted Critical Issues have associated Position Statements and White Papers.

Why does the GSA identify Critical Issues?

The GSA identifies Critical Issues to bring them to the attention of its membership, and thereby encourage and stimulate broader, informed participation in the public discourse. The Society does not necessarily take a position on each posted Critical issue, so a Position Statement may or may not have been developed for any given issue. When a Position Statement has been developed for a Critical Issue, a direct link to that Statement is provided on the Critical Issues page on the website . In addition, links to other information resources that can be accessed on the Internet are listed for each posted Critical Issue.

What is the relationship between Critical Issues and the GSA's Vision/Mission/Goals and Objectives and Position Statements?

Critical Issues are identified to provide a vehicle to inform and encourage engagement of GSA members on topics of current importance to the geosciences community in support of the Society's Vision and Mission. It is a stated Goal of the GSA to "… actively foster dialogue with the public and decision-makers on relevant geoscience issues …" Therefore, the identification and posting of select Critical Issues is one tool that the Society uses to put its Vision, Mission, and Goals and Objectives into action. In some cases, the nature of the issue and the state of the public dialog is such that it is appropriate and useful for the Society to take a formal position on the topic. In such cases, Council will approve adoption and publication of a Position Statement.

How are Critical Issues identified and approved for posting?

Critical Issues may be identified by Council, by the Executive Director, by the Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC), by representatives of one of the Society's divisions, or by individual members. Topics suggested for posting as a Critical Issue are submitted to the GPPC, along with (i) supporting rationale for why the recommended topic is currently relevant to the geosciences community and (ii) a list of links to web resources suggested for posting on the Critical Issues page on the GSA website. If the GPPC agrees that the suggested topic is sufficiently current and relevant, and that its posting would be consistent with the GSA Vision/Mission/Goals and Objectives, it will recommend to Council the inclusion of the topic on the Critical Issues page on the GSA website. Upon approval by Council, the topic will be added to the Critical Issues page on the website. The GPPC reviews currently posted Critical Issues at least twice a year to determine if each posted topic remains current and relevant, and that the posted links to information resources are appropriately up to date, and takes action accordingly.