Issue Date: January 9, 2012
Changes Needed To U.S. Climate Program
The U.S. Global Change Research Program, the federal government’s overall science effort on climate change and related issues, needs several alterations, says a report from the National Research Council. NRC recommends that the program answer to a governing body that has the ability to compel reallocation of agencies’ funds to meet the program’s priorities. Otherwise, the program will remain a compilation of research projects based on the priorities of individual agencies participating in the government-wide effort, says the report, which was released last week. In another recommendation, NRC says the program needs to ensure that the government develops and maintains observation systems, meaning data-collecting satellites. “Valuable information is being lost every year such efforts are delayed,” the report says. Also, it recommends integrating social and ecological observations with data on the physical environment. Social science information is needed on the human activities—such as population growth, economic development, and technological innovation—that drive global change and affect society’s ability to respond to it, the report adds.
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