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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
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Front Cover: Adapted from a photograph of the earth taken by Apollo 16 astronauts.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Global environmental change : understanding the human dimensions / Paul C. Stern, Oran R. Young, and Daniel Druckman, editors ; Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Commission on the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Man—Influence on nature. 2. Human ecology—Research. 3. Climatic change. 4. Environmental protection—Research. 5. Environmental policy. I. Stern, Paul C., 1944- . II. Young, Oran R. III. Druckman, Daniel, 1939- . IV. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change.
Copyright © 1992 by the National Academy of Sciences
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COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CHANGE
ORAN R. YOUNG (Chair),
Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College
ROGER G. BARRY,
World Data Center A for Glaciology, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado
World Bank, Washington, D.C.
WILLIAM J. CRONON,
Department of History, Yale University
Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University
Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
HAROLD K. JACOBSON,
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
ROBERT McC. NETTING,
Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona
Department of Economics, Yale University
Center for Marine Conservation, Washington, D.C.
THOMAS C. SCHELLING,
Department of Economics, University of Maryland
BILLIE L. TURNER II,
Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
Walter A. Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
EDITH BROWN WEISS,
Georgetown University Law Center*
HAROLD A. MOONEY (Ex Officio), Chair,
Committee on Global Change
DANIEL DRUCKMAN, Study Director
PAUL C. STERN, Study Director
J. MICHELLE DANIELS, Program Associate
DONNA REIFSNIDER, Program Assistant
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Stuart Bondurant is acting president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
Because human activities interact with physical and biological systems both as driving forces and as critical links in feedback mechanisms, any effort to understand, much less to come to terms with, global environmental change that does not include a sustained commitment to improving our knowledge of the human dimensions cannot succeed. Awareness of this simple truth is now spreading throughout the scientific community. In its report prepared to accompany the fiscal 1992 federal budget request for global change research, to take a prominent example, the Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences flatly states that "[w]ithout an understanding of human interactions in global environmental change that is based both on empirical observations of human behavior and on a better understanding of the consequences of human actions, the models of physical and biological processes of change will be incomplete." As the committee goes on to observe, an especially critical need is the "identification of the ways that human, physical, and biological systems interact, often through complex feedback mechanisms."
What are the implications of this realization for research on the human dimensions of global environmental change? Can we expect to understand the proximate causes of anthropogenic change—releases of carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), transformation of forests into fields, and so forth—without digging deeper to analyze the underlying sources of the human behavior in ques-
tion? How should we allocate our attention between studies of the underlying sources of anthropogenic change and studies of human responses to global environmental change, which figure prominently in the relevant feedback mechanisms? How can we exploit existing social data in order to advance our understanding of the human dimensions of global change, and how can we set priorities to make the best use of any new resources that become available to collect and perfect data in this field of inquiry? What can we do to break down intellectual and institutional barriers between the social sciences and the natural sciences or, for that matter, among the individual social science disciplines in the interests of deepening our understanding of global environmental change?
In 1989, the National Research Council (NRC), with support from the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Research Council Fund, and the U.S. Geological Survey, established the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change as a means of responding to these questions. The committee's charge included four interrelated tasks. Specifically, the committee was asked to undertake: "an assessment of previous social science research on topics related to global change; an evaluation of extant data resources for social and behavioral research on global change; a consideration of how collaborative research on global change might influence the generation of knowledge in the social sciences as well as attract social and behavioral scientists to apply their knowledge to global issues; and the development of a research agenda that can be implemented over a period of several years."
The Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change has not labored alone in endeavoring to identify and to grasp the human component of the complex interactions among human, physical, and biological systems giving rise to global change. The Committee on Global Change (the organizing committee for U.S. participation in the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) has formed a Human Interactions Panel; the Social Science Research Council has set up a Committee for Research on Global Environmental Change; and the National Science Foundation has initiated a program of investigator-initiated grants on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. Nor is this activity confined to the United States. Most notably, the International Social Science Council has put in place a Standing Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change; this committee is now moving vigorously to make common cause with the International
Geosphere-Biosphere Programme in the interests of stimulating collaboration between natural scientists and social scientists working on global change issues.
What sets the work of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change apart from these other endeavors, it seems to me, is the sustained effort the committee has made to build a solid foundation under human dimensions research as a coherent intellectual enterprise and a legitimate field of study that can command the resources needed to advance understanding in important ways. This means, to begin with, laying out systematically the parameters, premises, and problems of this field of study rather than restricting attention to the identification of a loose collection of substantive topics deemed worthy of attention on the part of those interested in global change. It means, as well, addressing a series of issues involving human resources and organization matters that cannot be ignored if this field of study is to establish itself as a going concern within the scientific community. The report that follows contains numerous recommendations. In the end, it lays out a five-point plan for a national research program on the human dimensions of global environmental change. But the persuasiveness of this plan rests, in the final analysis, on the success of our effort to build a foundation for human dimensions of global environmental change as a coherent field of study.
Guiding this project has been a challenging and stimulating endeavor from the moment the process of selecting committee members began to the day the last suggestions of a battery of reviewers were considered. Because it is hard to think of anything that has no bearing on global environmental change, we assembled a highly diverse group of senior scientists to conduct the work of the committee. Through most of its deliberations, the committee has consisted of 15 members, 12 representing a wide range of social science disciplines (including history and law) and 2 drawn from the natural sciences (including the life sciences and physical sciences). The result, predictably enough, has been a series of spirited exchanges featuring elements of disciplinary firmness as well as mutual education. Our product reflects a sustained commitment on the part of all participants to the creation of a new field of study drawing on the intellectual capital of numerous disciplines but dominated by none.
In my experience, the effort required to bring this project to a successful conclusion has been extraordinary. It is no exaggeration, therefore, to say that we could not have produced this report
without a commitment going beyond the call of duty on the part of Dan Druckman, Paul Stern, and Michelle Daniels, the staff members of the NRC's Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education assigned to this project. Working under considerable time pressure, Michelle made all our meetings run like clockwork. Paul was indefatigable both as the principal author of large sections of the report and as the staff member responsible both for integrating suggestions of outside reviewers and for handling a number of the tedious tasks involved in transforming a draft into a finished report. Dan was responsible for preparing the proposal for the project and making arrangements for its implementation. He was also a dependable source of good judgment on matters of substance, editing, and personnel as well as an active participant in our sessions. To all three, I offer both my sincere thanks for their unfailing support and my commendation for a job well done. In addition, special gratitude is extended to Christine McShane, the commission's editor: her skillful editing of the entire manuscript contributed substantially to its readability. Thanks go also to Donna Reifsnider for her administrative support. Definition and guidance for the committee's task came primarily from Roberta Miller, director the National Science Foundation's Division of Economic and Social Science. She was an important source of encouragement for the committee's work at all stages of the project.
Oran R. Young
Chair, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change