U.S. Program Continues Climate Change Preparedness

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united states global change research program logo
united states global change research program logo

Image Source: USGCRP.

The Obama Administration recently released a U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Strategic Plan for 2012-2021, highlighting four goals: Advancing sciences, enhancing decision-making, conducting sustained assessments, and communicating and educating the public. The plan includes reports from the National Academies as well as public comments in order to meet stakeholder demands for future federal agency collaboration planning. The USGCRP strives to understand the science of global change and its societal impact by building partnerships between agencies, industries, institutions, and the government.

USGCRP was passed in 1990 by a Congressional mandate to ‰ÛÏassist the nation and world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change,‰Û under the Global Change Research Act. USGCRP is currently the world’s largest science investment in climate science and global change research. Aided by more than 100 federal scientists, USGCRP is a coordination of 13 agencies to aid the decision-making process on global change.

Image of an iceberg breaking apart. Credit: USGCRP

Image Source: USGCRP ‰ÛÏChanging Planet 2008‰Û.

The past 20 years of USGCRP has been marked by research that has uncovered problems stemming from global change through climate models correlating greenhouse gases and global warming. For example, the previous USGCRP produced the ongoing National Climate Assessment (NCA), which is given to the president, Congress, and the public every four years, detailing climate change. However, the 2012-2021 USGCRP plan seeks to incorporate scientific understanding (while still investing in research) with global change preparedness. By bringing together specific data via satellites to the incorporation of complexities of ecosystems and social-economic dynamics, the plan seeks to direct the U.S. toward a more sustainable future.

‰ÛÏHuman actions are altering the atmosphere, the land, and our oceans, placing new pressures on the Earth’s ecosystems and threatening the health and economic welfare of our Nation and the world,‰Û said Tom Armstrong, executive director of the USGCRP.

‰ÛÏHigh-quality and well-coordinated research is essential if we are to better understand and predict future changes, develop strategies to minimize our vulnerabilities, and adapt to changes that can’t be avoided.‰Û

The USGCRP is stressing one of four goals set by the strategic plan: ‰ÛÏCommunicating and Educating,‰Û which aims to allow the program to provide a reliable source of scientific information of global change to a diverse audience. This goal has four objectives: Strengthen communication and education research, reach diverse audiences, increase engagement, and cultivate the scientific workplace. USGCRP 2012-2021 also highlights a study by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies ‰ÛÏInforming an Effective Response to Climate Change,‰Û which demonstrates the scientific illiteracy of the public on global change. Therefore, the next 10 years will focus on gaining a better understanding of the scientific and technical needs of people in order to ‰ÛÏbuild climate literacy.‰Û

US Global change research national climate assessment logo

Image Source: GlobalChange.Gov.

USGCRP 2012-2021 aims to develop the scientific workforce and link all the sciences in order to make use of a variety of skillsets to address these global change issues. The plan also pushes for international cooperation in data and research on this topic. By strengthening engagement between scientific and the decision-making community (for example, the plan was presented by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to the Executive Branch), a broader understanding of global change and prepare response systems can be achieved, according to the USGCRP. The plan also strives to benefit a variety of sectors: Agriculture, municipal planning, and public works.