The Plan says that the decisions being made today about systems affected by global change are worth billions of dollars. This is both a drastic underestimate and an imprecise argument for establishing the importance of foundational research in adaptation and mitigation. The countless decisions that are being made – related to infrastructure, natural resource use, water management, agriculture, zoning, and development of our nation’s energy system – could easily account for trillions, rather than billions, of dollars in investment in the coming decades. These decisions have the potential to be made more effectively with better knowledge and foresight about future global change, about ways to reduce the inherent vulnerabilities of these systems, and about the ways in which adaptation or mitigation efforts could affect these systems. The Plan does not articulate these sorts of arguments clearly or with sufficient documentation.
Key Message: The Strategic Plan should offer a more coherent summary of past important accomplishments, including an assessment of successes that were possible only because of USGCRP actions, and a more explicit discussion about the potential value of future research.