Friday, February 27, 2009

Human dimension needed in US climate research

Environment News Service: The U.S. government's Climate Change Science Program should expand its agenda to integrate research in the natural and social sciences that will enable the nation to tackle problems communities actually face, says a new report from the National Research Council. Climate change already is changing people's lives with extreme weather and climate events and disasters; sea level rise and melting ice; fresh water scarcity; agriculture and food security; ecosystems management; new and re-emerging diseases; and effects on the U.S. economy, the committee acknowledges.

But the Climate Change Science Program is hindered by its limited research into the social sciences and the separation of natural and social sciences research. Spending on research into the human dimensions of climate change has never exceeded three percent of the program's research budget, the committee learned. As a result, research, data collection, and modeling of how people interact with or affect their environments have lagged behind corresponding activities on the physical climate system.

At the same time, government scientists with the Climate Change Science Program should build on their successful research into the causes and processes of climate change, the report advises. "CCSP has created a robust infrastructure for observations and modeling, which has enabled scientists to document trends in critical climate parameters and identify the human impacts on climate change," said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and distinguished professor of atmospheric and climate sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. "Now we need to know how to respond to climate change, while working closely with policymakers on mitigation and adaptation strategies," he said…..

A large crowd, upon arriving at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU station on the Washington Metro, heads toward the escalator to exit the station. Shot by Ben Schumin, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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