human responses is continually developing and applying better analytical procedures to estimate the costs of global change and policy response options, considering their dependence on highly contestable judgments about nonmarket values and intergenerational equity. Much human response research is focused on the design of human institutions to reduce vulnerability and manage global resources more effectively.

Research over the past decade has made considerable progress, but there are still many unresolved questions. Key research imperatives for the next decade are the following:

  • Understanding the social determinants of environmentally significant consumption. Research should focus on the most environmentally significant consumption types, changes in consumption patterns as a function of economic growth and development, materials transformations, and the potential for related policy changes. Consumption is a key variable driving trends and patterns in the human impact on atmospheric composition, land use, and biogeochemical cycles.
  • Understanding the sources and processes of technological change. Research must address the causes of "autonomous" decreases in energy intensity, determinants of the adoption of environmental technologies, and effects of alternative policies on rates of innovation and the role of technology in causing or mitigating global changes.
  • Making climate change assessments and predictions regionally relevant . Research must develop indicators for vulnerability, project future vulnerability to climatic events, link climate change with social and economic changes in projections of overall regional impacts and their distribution, and improve communication and warning systems, especially in view of recent developments in forecasting.
  • Assessing social and environmental surprises. The historical record of social and environmental surprises must be explored to clarify the consequences of major surprises, identify human activities that alter their likelihood, and better understand how communication and hazard management systems can help in responding to surprises.
  • Understanding institutions for managing global change. Research should clarify the conditions favoring institutional success or failure in resource management; the links among international, national, and local institutions; and the potential of various policy instruments, including market-based instruments and property rights institutions, for altering the trajectories of anthropogenic global changes.
  • Understanding land use/land cover dynamics and human migration. This research should examine and compare case studies of land use and land cover change; develop a typology that links social and economic driving forces to land cover dynamics; and model land use changes at regional


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement