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Recommendation 7: Congress, federal agencies, and the federal climate change research program should work with other relevant partners (including universities, state and local governments, the international research community, the business community, and other nongovernmental organizations) to expand and engage the human capital needed to carry out climate change research and response programs.


We have entered a new era of climate change research. Although there are some uncertainties in the details of future climate change, it is clear that climate change is occurring, is largely due to human activities, and poses significant risks for people and the ecosystems on which we depend. Moreover, climate change is not just an environmental problem; it is a sustainability challenge that affects and interacts with other environmental changes and efforts to provide food, energy, water, shelter, and other fundamental needs of people today and in the future. In response to the risks posed by climate change, actions are now being taken both to limit the magnitude of future climate change and to adapt to its unavoidable impacts. These responses to climate change should be informed by the best possible scientific knowledge. Research is needed to improve understanding of the climate system and related human and environmental systems, to maximize the effectiveness of actions taken to respond to climate change, and to avoid unintended consequences for human well-being and the Earth system that sustains us. Acquiring the needed scientific knowledge, and making it useful to decision makers, will require an expanded climate change research enterprise. The challenge is tremendous, and so, too, should be our response, both in magnitude and in breadth.

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