June 23, 2021
As it drafts its next decadal strategic plan, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) should shift its focus to providing insights that help society prepare for and avoid the worst potential consequences of climate change, while protecting the most vulnerable, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Traditional climate research that projects changes in the natural environment to estimate potential consequences is not meeting the needs of decision-makers as they respond to the climate crisis, the report says.
Global Change Research Needs and Opportunities for 2022-2031 recommends USGCRP accelerate research on the multidirectional relationships among human and natural systems to advance our understanding of how to manage urgent current and future climate risks. Our food availability, for example, depends on a complex interaction between natural systems, such as the carbon and water cycles, and aspects of human systems, such as population growth or farming practices.
Sustainability scientist Nancy Grimm is an advisor to the USGRP and was an author of the report. Sustainability scientist Hallie Eakin, who is a member of the NAS Board on Environmental Change and Society, served as a reviewer of the report. Read the press release on nationalacademies.org.