2. Organizational and resource obstacles to a sustained and flexible program of observations are removed. An integrated observing strategy must be established to effectively monitor climate, environmental chemistry, and ecosystems as well as concomitant socioeconomic factors.
3. Integrated multidisciplinary modeling and information systems on global, national, and regional levels are developed and sustained. These systems, which depend on strong disciplinary knowledge bases, should be designed in close cooperation with those whose decision making they are designed to support in both the public and private sectors.
4. Regionally focused environmental research and assessments are developed to complement global-scale research and transform its advances into usable information for decision making at all spatial scales. This will require building the necessary resource base, as well as new partnerships between the relevant sciences and the public and private sectors.
There are a number of institutional options that could ensure that these critical tasks are fulfilled. Several high-level approaches were considered by the committee, including the following:
1. Creating a new National Environmental Council at the level of the National Economic Council and the National Security Council.
2. Strengthening the existing interagency structure through the National Science and Technology Council.
3. Broadening the mandate of the Council on Environmental Quality to give it oversight of the relevant research.
Whatever approach is chosen, it must be able to cream a national framework that will encourage an intimate connection between research, operations, and the support of decision making. Specific responsibility and resources must be assigned to the integration of multiple-agency programs.
Only by recognizing the nature of the challenges that will be present during the next few years and by showing early and innovative leadership can the tremendous capacity of the research community, the operational mission agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector be brought together to serve society and the environment.