motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions on the basis of the risks to public health and welfare, the agency is facing huge analytic tasks, including the challenge of cost–benefit analyses of phenomena that are difficult to quantify. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) may be required to include climate impact statements in energy efficiency rulemakings, creating pressures to establish regulatory precedents using numbers generated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for unanticipated purposes, perhaps without the appropriate methodological deliberations. Municipalities are asking consultants to tell them what the climate impacts will be on their infrastructure, utilities, and other services, but without sufficient funds and research to produce the necessary information. Authors of the IPCC Working Group II chapter on North America identified major gaps in the literature, including climate impacts on energy use, transportation, and biomass productivity. Time constraints prevented inclusion of that discussion in the working group’s report, however. Congress and others are not aware that the money going to climate research may not be directed toward meeting the needs of local constituents.
Even the IPCC is limited in the guidance and leadership it provides. Some of the questions asked of IPCC report contributors are dated and make it difficult to include important scientific findings. The demands on Working Group II will increase in the next assessment report; meeting those demands will require additional organizational efforts. Chapter outlines and templates might help when writing the next report, even though some authors object to top-down formatting of content, but the bigger challenge is to structure the research community at large. International research organizations, including the U.N. Environmental Program, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and START (the Global Change System for Analysis, Research, and Training), have not produced sufficient administrative or funding resources in the past. Funding has emphasized projects, not networking or capacity development.
In writing the fourth IPCC assessment report, it became clear that there are policy tradeoffs between mitigation and adaptation. Feedbacks are becoming more visible, and many report authors now want to link the two in concept and organization. For example, the rapid development of biofuels has immediate effects on food security. The siting of nuclear power plants in coastal areas becomes problematic when sea levels rise. As air temperatures rise, people use more electricity for air conditioning. Population growth and migrations can overwhelm water supplies already burdened by more direct impacts of climate change on hydrologic cycles, as well as by agricultural and hydropower needs. Policy and research