Comments by reviewers helped the panel, and a notable reviewer was Roger R. Revelle. One of the many things Dr. Revelle pioneered was investigation of the impact of climate change. In the National Academy of Sciences 1983 report Changing Climate, he reported the impact of climate change on the Colorado River and subsequently initiated and participated in the study that produced the report Climate Change and U.S. Water Resources. During the winter of 1990–1991 his thorough review of the present manuscript produced many valuable suggestions. The Adaptation Panel thanks him. As the report was moving to publication, Dr. Revelle died, at age 82.
It is important to stress that the charge to the panel was to develop an assessment of impacts and adaptation to climate change that emphasized consequences and opportunities for the United States. This decision was taken in light of the IPCC effort and the many efforts now under way by individual nations elsewhere in the world to assess their own prospects in light of likely climate change. This report does not claim to speak on behalf of the points of view of all nations.
The report also focuses on the direct effects of greenhouse gases and climate change. It does not attempt to assess all the numerous environmental changes that will be taking place simultaneously, including loss of habitat, destruction of the ozone layer, and marine pollution, to name a few. The panel was not charged with assessing the entire question of ''environmentally sustainable development."
The panel immediately recognized that the selection of mitigation strategies for greenhouse gas emissions would also affect adaptation. For example, renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power that might diminish greenhouse gas emissions also increase sensitivity to climate. In a few places in this report, we allude to interactions between mitigation and adaptation strategies. Although the panel was aware of indirect effects of adaptation to climate change, such as the vitality of schools in a farming community or of wildlife in a neighborhood when irrigation is extended, we naturally concentrated on such direct effects of adaptations as the success of food production. As societies narrow the range of strategies they consider seriously, it will be important to consider these interactions more fully.
The charge to this panel was not primarily to develop a research agenda about the impacts of climate. For a full discussion of research directions, see the 1990 National Research Council report Research Strategies for the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
The tasks of the Adaptation Panel were, first, to examine what would happen if climate changed and humanity and nature did not and, second, to find ways to temper any harm and to enhance any benefits of a new climate.
Paul E. Waggoner, Chairman
Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, Adaptation Panel