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Updated 11 November 2004

Consequences Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1995









We who are privileged to live on this benign planet, said Roger Revelle, can at least try to understand it. Foreseeing the course and consequences of environmental change, however, is not a simple matter in an interwoven world -- with or without the sometimes unpredictable actions of the 5.6 billion of us who liver here and sometimes bend the path that Nature takes. A first step is to keep informed of what in our environment is changing, and by how much and why: and to winnow out as best we can any genuine concerns from the more transient alarms that seem all too often sounded.

Through efforts like the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the scientific community is today making significant progress toward Roger Revelle's goal. Armed with more reliable assessments of future conditions, decision makers in government and industry can take the appropriate steps to enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace; to ensure a strong U.S. position in international economic and environmental negotiations; and to mitigate the impacts of extreme environmental events. For these and for the rest of us, better information, more globally shared, may well prove the best and brightest hope for the new century that is soon to dawn.

CONSEQUENCES is designed to help bridge the gap between the scientists who are engaged in global change research and those outside the research community who share practical concerns related to the national and international consequences of environmental changes. It will be published quarterly and distributed free of charge through funding provided by NOAA, NASA and NSF.

Articles are commissioned from working scientists in this country or abroad who have professional expertise in the subject involved. Manuscripts are critically reviewed by independent experts who are chosen to represent an appropriate spectrum of opinion. The selection of subjects and authors is guided by a Scientific Editorial Board. Assessments are written with the informed public reader in mind, kept to a length that can be read and understood in no more than about half an hour, and preceded by a single-page summation.

In this first issue, we look at three facets of the natural environment -- climate, freshwater, and land use -- each in the light of what has changed in modern times and what is likely to change in the near future. By design we further limit our view, this time around, to the case of the United States of America.

As always, we welcome suggestions for improving CONSEQUENCES, or any comments that we can forward to our authors.

John A. Eddy

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