conducted outside the official purview of the USGCRP. Thus another option, in principle, is that the government could simply declare these programs and their budgets to be part of the USGCRP. Assuming that the government agencies conducting this research agreed to the relabeling, it would at least create the perception that the USGCRP is more faithfully fulfilling its mandate, give the federal agencies that conduct this research increased visibility, and broaden the constituency for the Program. However, fully integrating these additional activities into USGCRP would require additional staff time and funding, which may be infeasible given current budgetary constraints. An informed analysis of this potential broadening strategy requires more time than this review allows; but we do suggest that the matter deserves further discussion as the Program develops.
Finally, as discussed later in this review, the Plan not only proposes expanding its scope from climate change science to “climate and related global changes”, but also proposes expanding its scope to increased integration of the social and ecological sciences, increased attention to decision support, and increased attention to matters of education and communication. We strongly support these other areas of expansion, and emphasize that they are closely intertwined with the questions about climate change versus global change. For instance, the CCSP’s earlier focus only on climate change, to the exclusion of other global changes, may have inherently constrained the social sciences and decision support components of the Program – because most real-world decisions made by government leaders, businesses, individual citizens, etc. are seldom, if ever, based on consideration of climate change in isolation.
Key Message: The proposed broadening of the Program’s scope from climate change only to climate change and “climate-related global changes” is an important step in the right direction. The Program’s legislative mandate is to address all of global change, whether or not related to climate. The Committee concurs that this broader scope is appropriate, but realizes that such an expansion may be constrained by budget realities and by the practical challenge of maintaining clear boundaries for an expanded program. We encourage sustained efforts to expand the scope of the Program over time, along with efforts to better define and prioritize what specific topics are included within the bounds of global change research. As the Program moves in this direction, a high priority is to assure that observing systems are designed to monitor a broad array of global changes, given that valuable information is being lost every year that such efforts are delayed.