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For almost a decade the USGCRP has invested in research on the human dimensions of global change because it is essential to the programís ability to realize its central goals of understanding the planet and the implications of social and environmental change. This research has helped explain how humans drive important interventions in the Earth system, are affected by the interactions between natural and social processes, and are part of the solution. The USGCRP looks to the Human Dimensions Program to study response options in the face of change ó what can we anticipate, how should we handle uncertainty, how might we better prepare?     The challenge of the next decade is to more meaningfully embed Human Dimensions research questions within the other elements of the USGCRP. Humans are a part of the climate system, the drivers of land cover change, increasingly significant contributors to the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and utterly dependent upon the global water cycle. But a separate focus on Human Dimensions is also required, both to capture the socially driven aspects of environmental change and to shape our understanding of the context within which we experience the impacts of natural system fluctuations.
    Key research challenges include:
  1. Determining the human sensitivities to the consequences of global environmental change for key life support systems (such as water, health, energy, natural ecosystems, and agriculture), including the economic and social dynamics of these systems.
  2. Determining a scientific foundation for analyzing the potential human responses to global change, their effectiveness and cost, and the range of response options.
  3. Understanding the underlying social processes or driving forces behind the human relationship to the global environment, such as human attitudes and behavior, population dynamics, institutions, and economic and technological transformations.
  4. Understanding the major human causes of change in the global environment, and how they vary over time, across space, and between economic sectors and social groups.

  5. Figure 5. Land Cover Change in the Tensas River Basin
    (See Appendix E for additional information)


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