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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Report Challenges Ambitious Plan for U.S. Climate Research
5 January 2012 5:32 pm
A report from the National Research Council (NRC) released today points out that a draft federal plan to coordinate research into how to respond to climate change is unlikely to succeed without added resources and new ways to manage the program.
The NRC committee—chaired by climate modeler Warren Washington of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—commends the 21-year-old U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) for proposing to broaden its scope beyond coordinating basic climate research. Its new draft strategic plan includes research that would support society's efforts to reduce the magnitude of greenhouse warming and other climate change—and to adapt to any unavoidable change. "Now that we have a pretty good handle on the climate science," says Washington, it is appropriate that USGCRP begin fulfilling Congress's intent in 1990 legislation that created a federal interagency group to coordinate research.
The rub comes in how to support and manage such ambitions. "The USGCRP and its  member agencies and programs are lacking in capacity to achieve the proposed broadening of the Program," says the report. "Member agencies and programs have insufficient expertise" to integrate the social and ecological sciences into the program or to develop the capacity to support decision makers.
The committee also raises a long-standing concern about USGCRP: It lacks the needed governance structure. Without strengthened governance, even a capable, broadened USGCRP would remain a hodgepodge of agencies' favorite research programs, according to the report. "We were hoping there would be a way to coordinate better, especially on the congressional side," says Washington. "Our greatest worry is the implementation in a somewhat hostile political environment. It's going to be awfully hard."
USGCRP principals are "very pleased with the NRC report," says Timothy Killeen, assistant director in the Directorate for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation and the USGCRP vice chair who led development of the strategic plan. "We do recognize there are some gaps in our capacity." Coordinators plan to bring in more expertise from USGCRP agencies and nonmember agencies, academia, and state agencies, says Thomas Armstrong, executive director of USGCRP. Interagency working groups are also being formed that include program managers and scientific experts "who know the science and can write the checks," says Armstrong. The final strategic plan is due out later this month.