For many years, scientists have observed a warming trend in the earth's climate and have projected additional changes in the coming decades, with potential implications for human society. To provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research program that will assist the nation and the world in understanding, assessing, predicting, and responding to such changes, the Congress, in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (act), required the administration to, among other things, prepare a national global change research plan, a summary of the achievements and expenditures in the area of federal climate change research, and a scientific assessment. The scientific assessment is to be prepared at least every 4 years and is to: (1) integrate, evaluate, and interpret research findings on climate change of the Global Change Research Program (implemented under the Global Change Research Plan) and scientific uncertainties associated with such findings; (2) analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, human health and welfare, and other specified areas; and (3) analyze current trends in global change and project major trends for the next 25 to 100 years. In 2002, the President announced the creation of the interagency Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) to coordinate and direct U.S. research efforts in the area of climate change. CCSP is now responsible for producing and submitting the climate change assessment and is led by the Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere at the Department of Commerce. In July 2003, CCSP's strategic plan was transmitted to the Congress. The strategic plan contained a schedule for preparing the next assessment by publishing 21 reports, each focusing on a specific topic. Congress asked us to evaluate the extent to which CCSP's planned assessment meets the requirements of the act regarding the timing and content of such an assessment.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Other||To ensure that the climate change assessments required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 present information in a manner that is most useful for the Congress and the public, the CCSP should develop plans to prepare the next assessment within the prescribed time frame, or if 4 years are insufficient to complete the assessment, recommend to the CCSP interagency Committee that CCSP request an extension from the Congress.|
|Other||To ensure that the climate change assessments required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 present information in a manner that is most useful for the Congress and the public, the CCSP should develop a specific plan to address all eight of the assessment areas.|
|Other||To ensure that the climate change assessments required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 present information in a manner that is most useful for the Congress and the public, the CCSP should recommend to the CCSP interagency Committee that a summary report be prepared to integrate the findings of the 21 or more individual reports.|