Reports and Articles on Climate Change
This page contains summaries of or links to a variety of reports and articles relevant to climate change and its relationship to policy:
Earlier this year, in preparation for a summit in Europe to discuss the Kyoto Protocol, the Bush administration's Cabinet-level working group to review the status of U.S. climate change efforts sought additional input from the National Academy of Science. The result was a report that came out in early June entitled "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions," intended to send President Bush to Europe fully informed on the status of climate change research in the U.S. and the world, as well as how the research should influence policy. Although the report did state that uncertainties remain regarding natural climate variation and current climate models, its primary emphasis was that "greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities." However, while in Europe discussing the Kyoto Protocol, Bush seemed to place more emphasis on the uncertainties the report confirmed. Although Bush has stated he is open to policy that will deal with climate change, he has not come out in support of the Protocol.
This report is a transition document for the new administration to use in analysis of what can be done at the federal level to address global change issues. It is a synthesis of several other NRC reports on global change. The extensive bibliography of the report is a great resource that includes not only primary sources but also other NRC report titles discussing a range of natural science topics -- some specifically studying the role of the geosciences in environmental questions. The brief report puts forth ideas to strengthen the link between legislators and scientists for the purpose of solving local and global problems occurring as the human population continues to grow and natural resources dwindle. It also identifies actions that should be taken at the national leadership level and at the agency level to promote research on regional and global change. The emphasis of the report's recommendations is the integration of all the natural sciences as well as aspects of social science across federal agency boundaries. It stresses the interconnection between the health of the environment with the health of society and the economy.
The report charges the federal government with providing long-term reliable and consistent scientific information on regional and global change. It recommends that the federal government establish a body -- incorporating many federal agencies -- to coordinate global and regional environmental research independent of appropriation whims. Three administrative options for the group were identified -- creating a new National Environmental Council, strengthening the existing interagency structure through the National Science and Technology Council, or giving the Council on Environmental Quality oversight of relevant research. Whatever it's structure, the interagency group would fulfill the federal government's responsibilities in global and regional change research. These responsibilities include: ensuring that resources are directed into under-funded research areas that are not contained in one agency, ensuring that an integrated and comprehensive monitoring program is established, developing and maintaining multidisciplinary modeling and information systems, and ensuring that scientific research on local, regional, and global scales provide pertinent information for use in decision making.
The second part of the report introduces actions that should be taken at the agency level to ensure that research continues on important environmental change topics. The report affirms that there already is expertise and capacity for generating information on global change, but the difficulty lies in "putting knowledge into action." The report makes recommendations for creating a focused fundamental research agenda in global, sustainable, and in environmental and ecosystem research. The unifying themes of the recommendations are "better understanding the interactions of earth systems with the social system, how those interactions contribute to changes in the environment, and how to develop new strategies for mitigating and adapting to the changes." The report indicates that in order to follow the recommendations there will have to be better links between the natural sciences, social sciences, and engineering. Implementing an effective research agenda will require federal agencies individually or in collaboration to follow eight recommended action items:
This report addresses the fact that global-mean temperature at the earth's surface is estimated to have risen by 0.25 to 0.4 °C during the past 20 years. On the other hand, satellite measurements of radiances indicate that the temperature of the lower to mid-troposphere (the atmospheric layer extending from the earth's surface up to about 8 km) has exhibited a smaller rise of approximately 0.0 to 0.2 °C during this period. The report attempts to answer the question of whether these apparently conflicting surface and upper air temperature trends lie within the range of uncertainty inherent in the measurements and, if they are judged to lie outside that range, to identify the most probable reason(s) for the differences.
The Briefing Book includes objective and nonpartisan information and reports on a wide range of Climate Change Issues, including: greenhouse effect and global climate change, greenhouse gas sources and trends, energy issues, economic issues, legal issues, technology, chronology, the U.N. Framework Convention, and the 1997 U.N. Kyoto Protocol.
Needs a New Approach (5/01)
AGI Statement on Global Climate Change (2/00)
Scientific Consensus and Political Controversy (2/98)
The Great Global El Nino Ozone Warming Debate (1/98)
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Spring 2001 AAPG/AGI Geoscience Policy Intern Mary Patterson and Summer 2001 AAPG/AGI Geoscience Policy Intern Caetie Ofiesh
Posted ; Last Updated July 3, 2001
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