NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
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This work was sponsored, under contract no. OCE 9313563, by the National Science Foundation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Office of Naval Research, U.S. Department of the Navy; and the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change
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Copyright 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CHANGE
ORAN R. YOUNG (Chair),
Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College
ERIC J. BARRON,
Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University
Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
ESTELLA B. LEOPOLD,
Department of Biology, University of Washington
Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University
BONNIE J. MCCAY,
Department of Human Ecology, Rutgers University
RONALD R. RINDFUSS,
Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina
VERNON W. RUTTAN,
Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
STEVEN E. SANDERSON,
Tropical Conservation and Development, University of Florida
Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University
Department of Engineering-Economic Systems, Stanford University
HAROLD K. JACOBSON
(University of Michigan),
International Social Science Council Steering Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change
EDWARD A. FRIEMAN
(University of California, San Diego),
Board on Global Change
PAUL C. STERN, Study Director
MARY E. THOMAS, Senior Project Assistant
In the years since the creation of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, the international scientific community has come to accept that an understanding of global environmental change requires a focused and sustained consideration of its human dimensions—the effects of human activity on large physical and biological systems, the impacts of environmental change on people and societies, the responses of social systems to actual or anticipated environmental change, and the interactions among all these processes. At the request of the National Science Foundation, in 1989 the National Research Council established the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change to assess knowledge relevant to these issues and develop a research agenda for the field. The committee published its findings in a 1992 book entitled Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions.
Since the release of that report, the committee has functioned in an advisory capacity to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and to the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme of the International Social Science Council. The U.S. and international research programs have continued to mature, and the U.S. program in particular has begun to grow more rapidly in response to the government 's increasing interest in gathering policy-relevant scientific knowledge.
This report responds to the recent expansion of the USGCRP's scope to emphasize policy-relevant knowledge, much of which must come from research on human-environment interactions, the area of the committee's advisory responsibility. To provide intellectual guidance to this expansion of the program,
the committee identifies five science priorities—areas in which incremental, focused effort can be expected to yield particularly high returns of policy-relevant knowledge in the near term. It also defines a process through which a broad spectrum of members of the relevant communities of scientists, research sponsors, and consumers can develop these priorities into detailed science plans and implementation plans.
The research programs outlined here will contribute substantially to the U.S. government's stated goals of conducting “end-to-end (integrated) assessments of global change issues” and engaging in policy-relevant analyses of mitigation and adaptation strategies. They will complement the large, ongoing programs of research on earth system processes by building knowledge in other areas that must be integrated with knowledge of those processes to inform policy choices. As a result, these human dimensions programs will produce a solid base of knowledge on which to build future policy analyses.
This report has benefited greatly from the efforts of staff at the National Research Council, particularly Paul C. Stern, the study director, and Carey Gellman and Mary E. Thomas, who provided administrative support. In addition, we offer special thanks to Christine McShane, the commission's editor. We also wish to express our appreciation to two former committee members, B.L. Turner and Barbara Boyle Torrey, and to staff members at the U.S. Global Change Research Program and its member agencies, whose ideas have helped the committee think through the issue of research priorities: Thomas Baerwald, Robin Cantor, John Houghton, Sally Kane, Michael McCracken, Richard Moss, and Joel Scheraga.
Oran R. Young, Chair
Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change